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UNIT 8: Early Economies

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Commercial Revolution in China

This segment looks at eleventh-century China, where the introduction of highly productive strains of rice, along with an expansion of arable lands, gave rise to a population boom and an increase in agricultural surpluses. These surpluses encouraged the growth of new markets for agricultural products. The distribution of these products was aided by the efficient organization of the Song state, which maintained a good system of roads and provided centralized locations from which surpluses could be easily sold.

The Song state further encouraged trade — especially long-distance trade — when it began to print paper bills of exchange in the eleventh century as a way of eliminating the need to carry heavy coins from place to place. The resulting expansion of trade encouraged the growth of towns and cities in China, which provided people with an increasing array of alternatives to agricultural life. In contrast to the slow development of commercial economies in England and Japan between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, China experienced such a rapid economic change by 1200 CE that historians call it a commercial revolution.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Qiu Ying, SPRING FESTIVAL UP THE RIVER. DETAIL OF A BRIDGE (1500). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk/Kathleen Cohen.

Anonymous Chinese, CHINESE ARISTOCRATS WEAVING SILK (n.d.). Courtesy of Chinastock Photos.


Hui Wang, THE KANGXI EMPEROR'S SOUTHERN INSPECTION TOUR. BANTANG TEMPLE AND HANSHAM TEMPLE (ca 1691-1698). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk/Kathleen Cohen.

Hui Wang, THE KANGXI EMPEROR'S SOUTHERN INSPECTION TOUR. GOING TO MOUNT TAI (ca. 1691-1698). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk/Kathleen Cohen.



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