How did increased trade in the Indian Ocean basin between 1000 and 1500 C.E. promote cross-cultural communications in the regions?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The advent of safer ocean travel with new navigation and sailing technology allowed many civilizations to grow their economic and cultural states; formerly landlocked nations could send expeditions for exploration and trade to areas blocked by mountains and warring tribes. The Indian Ocean Basin became one of the most important trade routes for ocean trade, as it is typically a much more calm area than the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, and there are many islands and peninsulas on which trading posts or colonies could be established.

Between 1000-1500 C.E., Egypt and India developed a strong trade relationship based on the Monsoon seasons; the strong winds allowed ships to sail faster with plenty of time for diplomatic and trade negotiations. China entered the ocean trade business as their economy grew, and supplemented the Silk Road trade with new routes through the Indian Ocean Basin. Another major development was access to and colonization of Africa, where discovery of Gold and Diamonds assisted the developing Slave Trade and helped the burgeoning Middle East in becoming the most powerful and wealthy trade civilizations in the world.

Since each civilization had its own ecosystem, agriculture, and unique materials, trade between nations allowed the spread of knowledge and culture. The Middle Eastern nations traded mostly to the West, while Europe only started their trade in earnest when overland routes connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean opened up. Trade between the nations allowed formerly closed society and knowledge of culture to spread, correcting much of the misinformation disseminated by enemy states and incorrect accounts from previous exploration.

By the end of the 1400s, Europe had rounded the Cape of Good Hope and started to dominate trade in the Indian Ocean with superior ships and firepower. At the same time, Europe was also colonizing the Americas, and so the trade significance of the Indian Ocean began to wane.