What did people trade in the past? icon

What did people trade in the past?



НазваниеWhat did people trade in the past?
Дата конвертации27.09.2012
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Ancient Civilizations

Ancient Egypt and Ancient China

The project created by the 9th grade students: Bakyt Erkyn, Vladimirov Ilia, Dudko Liza, Lysikova Ksenia, Resanov Sergey, Savkina Irina, Samarkina Ksenia, Shalimova Kristina London, 2010






What did people trade in the past?


From earliest times, people have traded to obtain materials they need or items of special value. What sorts of goods were traded and how were they transported? Was trade carried out locally or over long distances? What else, other than goods, could be traded between people?





^ Trading Partners


Egypt had many important resources within its borders, including precious stones, metals and stone for buildings and sculptures. The fertile Nile valley also provided the Egyptians with good land to farm to produce crops for feeding the population.


However, despite having many resources that were important to everyday life, the Egyptians still needed to trade with foreign countries to acquire things that they were without.


They traded with Nubia and Punt (countries to the south of Egypt), also with countries in the east (modern Syria and Lebanon) and with some Mediterranean islands, such as Minoan Crete and Cyprus.


^ Silk - China's Great Export


Silk became China's most important export. The West's demand for the material led to the Silk Road, the trade routes that linked East with West, becoming one of the most important trade routes in the world. It was a highly valued material within China, and when exported, the rest of the world prized it greatly. In Rome, demand for the material was such that the Roman writer Pliny complained women's desire for the material was ruining the Roman Empire. The fashion for silk led to such a drain of gold, many felt an economic disaster was unavoidable. At certain times, silk was literally worth its weight in gold.




Although silk was exported around the world, the secret of how silk was made (sericulture) stayed within China's borders for many centuries, only arriving outside the country in the 8th century A.D. The production of silk was one of China's most zealously guarded secrets.


The Silk Road was the trade route, or in actual fact routes, that linked China with the Mediterranean. It is called the Silk Road, due to the amount of silk that was exported from China to the West along the route.

Its beginnings date from 139 B.C. when Emperor Wu sent Zhang Qian to central Asia to buy horses. While travelling, Zhang Qian was captured. When he eventually returned to China he brought valuable information about the countries to the west. By the end of the century, merchants were travelling frequently along this route.


The Silk Road, in fact, refers to several routes, both land and sea, linking China with the West. The main route ran from Chang'an (Xi'an) in China to the eastern Mediterranean. The bulk of the trade was in silk, which was exported from China. However it was not the only product carried along these routes.


^ Why do people write things down?


In civilizations around the world people have developed many different kinds of writing and recording systems. Why did people need writing: to record information? To send messages? To retell stories? Do all civilizations preserve the same types of information? What forms of recording do they use and on what kind of materials?


^ Scribes and Writing


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'Egyptian language'
in hieroglyphs





















Writing was very important in ancient Egypt and was used to record all types of information. However, very few people in ancient Egypt could actually read and write. Only certain people from a particular group were even allowed to train to become scribes.

Through learning about how scribes learned and what they did, we are able to understand more about the importance of writing in ancient Egypt.


^ The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is a fragment of an Ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele, the engraved text of which provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The inscription records a decree that was issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three texts: the upper one is in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle one in Egyptian demotic script, and the lower text in ancient Greek.

Prior to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and its eventual decipherment, there had been no understanding of the ancient Egyptian language and script since shortly before the fall of the Roman Empire. The usage of the hieroglyphic script had become increasingly specialised even in the later Pharaonic period; by the 4th century AD, few Egyptians were capable of reading hieroglyphs. Monumental use of hieroglyphs ceased after the closing of all non-Christian temples in the year 391 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I; the last known inscription, found at Philae and known as The Graffito of Esmet-Akhom, is dated to 24 August 396 AD.


^ Early Writing in China


Historians have found out a lot about the early Chinese dynasties from the written documents they have left behind. From the Shang dynasty most of this writing has survived on bones or bronze implements. Historians have found that the type of media used (whether bone, bronze or bamboo) had an effect on what the writing was documenting and how it was used.


^ The invention of printing in China


The need to reproduce important information many times over is nothing new. In the Middle East, people were using seals to stamp impressions of names or pictures on to various surfaces since ancient times. In India, Buddhists used ink rubbings to reproduce texts and pictures carved into stone in temples.


These techniques were imported to China and gained great influence. However, these methods alone could not satisfy demand. In around the 6th century AD woodblock printing appears. This technique relied on the text (in reverse) being carved into a wood block. The wood block was painted with ink and pressed against a piece of a paper.


Literacy increased in China as a result of the invention of printing. The classic Confucian texts could now be circulated amongst a much greater number of people. Buddhist sacred texts could be distributed in massive numbers. The first known complete printed and dated book is a Buddhist text called the Diamond Sutra. However, serious and important works were not the only things to be printed. Calendars and almanacs were very popular as well as practical guides such as revision tips for exams.


The first complete dated and printed book is the ‘^ Diamond Sutra’. It was printed in the year AD 868 and was found in Dunhuang, among a great cache of documents found in a sealed cave. It contains the complete text of a Buddhist Sutra translated into Chinese. The book is in scroll form, and is 17 ½ feet long. Today it is kept in the British Library in London.


Early books all came in scroll form. However by the end of the Tang dynasty flat books with folded pages were beginning to replace the scroll. These flat books were much easier to store.


^ What types of monumental building did people build in the past?


Large, impressive buildings are often the most famous symbols of particular civilizations. What function did these buildings have? Were they built for religious or royal purposes, or were there other reasons for their construction, for example as places for entertainment? What did they look like? Use the map to find some answers to these questions.


^ The Great Pyramid




The ancient Egyptians are well known for the large stone structures they built called 'pyramids'. Pyramids were built as tombs for the rulers of Egypt during a period of time that spanned hundreds of years, beginning in about 2600 B.C.

Pyramids are some of the most well-known structures which survive from the ancient world. Through looking at these impressive structures we are able to learn about the beliefs and motivations of the people who built them.


^ The Great Wall of China




The Great Wall of China is one of the largest construction projects ever carried out. It is often incorrectly thought to be the only man-made object visible from the moon. Nevertheless, at around 4,500 miles in length, it is certainly a monumental structure.

The first Great Wall was built under the Qin dynasty (221 B.C. – 207 B.C.) The emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, ordered that the existing defensive walls of the old warring states should be joined together. In the centuries after that, the Wall was rebuilt and added to many times.

It provided an excellent defence against the nomads who lived to the north of China. For the early Chinese, the Wall also marked the limits of the civilized world. Qin Shi Huangdi believed China was the most civilized nation in the world. The Wall separated China from the nomadic peoples of the North and West.


^ Is it possible to understand the religious beliefs of ancient civilizations?


What can we learn about past religions from evidence such as temple buildings, tombs, pictures of gods and goddesses and religious writings? Is all this enough to let us understand what people actually believed?


^ Unravelling the Mummy


One of the most important rituals connected with religion and burial in ancient Egypt was the careful preparation of bodies before burial known as mummification. Mummification was a special ritual which was performed in order to ensure that the body of the deceased would be properly prepared for the afterlife.

In addition to the preparation of the body, special amulets were placed on the body to protect it and the body was wrapped with strips of linen. The wrapped body was then placed in a coffin which was decorated with symbols and images to help the deceased in the afterlife.

Through learning about the amulets and decoration it is possible to begin to understand some of the importance of this ritual to the ancient Egyptians.


^ The Creation of the World (Mesopotamia)


The people of Mesopotamia had many myths explaining various aspects of their world. Among the many myths about the creation of the heavens, the earth and animals was a myth about the creation of human beings.

This myth teaches us something about how the people of Mesopotamia felt about their gods and the relationship of human beings and gods.


^ Ancient Chinese Tomb


The Ancient Chinese believed that life carried on after death. They thought they would continue to do the things they had done in this life in the afterlife. Tombs were arranged with the objects that people would need in the afterlife - weapons, ritual vessels and personal ornaments.

The ancient Chinese believed there was a very important link between the living and the dead. Your dead ancestors lived in the spirit world with the gods. They had the ability to influence the gods to bring good or bad luck to their family on earth. . It was therefore essential to gain their approval.


^ The Three Ways


China was unusual in that instead of having one dominant belief system, it was influenced by three different religions. These three beliefs were Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism.

Followers of Confucianism believed in the teachings of Confucius. Confucius was born in 551 B.C. He believed that disorder could only be averted by upholding traditional hierarchies and rituals.

Daoism is the belief that one must follow the 'Way' (or Dao) - the force or energy that is the source of all that happens. Daoists believe that people should lead simple lives and not disrupt the balance of the natural world.

Buddhism was the last of the religions to gain influence in China. In order to fit in with the other two established belief systems - Buddhism in China became subtly different to Buddhism in India. For example, the Buddhist teaching of severing all family ties was abandoned as it clashed with the existing Confucian belief.




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