This article is part of the AP World History Review series. You can also view articles on:
• APWH Period 1 Review
• APWH Period 2 Review
• APWH Period 3 Review (This article)
• APWH Period 4 Review
• APWH Period 5 Review
Introduction - a Review of Period 3's Timeline (c. 600 - 1450 CE)
Period 3 covers the segment of world history between the years 600 AD to 1450 AD, sometimes referred to as the Medieval Era or Middle Ages. In the 7th century, Islam is rising in the Arab world and China sees a prolific period under the Tang dynasty. New governmental structures emerge during this period: feudalism in Europe, Caliphates in the Islamic states, and bureaucratic regimes in the Far East. These cultural and political differences provide consequences both good and bad. Under a more unified Islam, significant developments in the arts, math, and science occur in the Muslim world. Simultaneously, religious strife within Christianity results in the schism of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Conflict between Western Christianity and the Islamic world leads to the Crusades, in which millions of men fight bloody religious wars in a desperate attempt to control Palestine and to win some glory at the same time.
Christian Crusaders sacked Jerusalem in 1099. The amount of thievery that took place during the looking would make Al Capone look like a shoplifter!
Violence is not just kindled by wars of religion, but also from good old fashioned conquest; for example, the Mongol horde sees its golden era of expansion under the rule of Genghis Khan and his descendants, conquering all the way from Korea to modern-day Romania by the 13th century. Furthermore, the black plague decimates the European population. Byzantium -- once the greatest power in Europe -- is reduced to a shell of its former self shortly before Ottoman annexation. Meanwhile in the Americas, the Mayans endure an interval of degradation, while the Aztec and Incan Empires come to their climactic power in the 14th and 15th centuries.
The Mongolian Empire at its largest extent. Note how much it dwarfs other familiar super-states, such as the Roman Empire or the Tang dynasty. Russia, the largest country in the world today, has a far smaller territorial reach. This must make Vladimir Putin jealous!
Note: The questions discussed below can be accessed in an online assignment format at http://hw.zone/2gfpIN9. You can use this link to answer the below questions for practice or assign them to your students if you are a teacher
Stimulus Based: Questions 1-3
Use the following stimulus for questions 1-3:
Marco Polo - 1254-1324-Ibn Battuta 1325-1354
Travel Studies, Inc.
“We rode from here to Damietta through a number of towns, in each of which we visited the principal men of religion. Damietta lies on the bank of the Nile, and the people in the houses next to the river draw water from it in buckets. Many of the houses have steps leading down to the river. Their sheep and goats are allowed to pasture at liberty day and night; for this reason the saying goes of Damietta "Its walls are sweetmeats and its dogs are sheep." Anyone who enters the city may not afterwards leave it except by the governor's seal. Persons of repute have a seal stamped on a piece of paper so that they may show it to the gatekeepers; other persons have the seal stamped on their forearms. In this city... The fish called buri is exported thence to Syria, Anatolia, and Cairo. The present town is of recent construction; the old city was that destroyed by the Franks in the time of al Malik as as-Salih.”
Ibn Battuta - Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354
Learning Objective: CUL-6
1. Of the following quotes, which one would a historian most likely identify as a limitation of intercultural knowledge and understanding?
- “Anyone who enters the city may not afterwards leave it except by the governor's seal. Persons of repute have a seal stamped on a piece of paper so that they may show it to the gatekeepers; other persons have the seal stamped on their forearms.”
- “The fish called buri is exported thence to Syria, Anatolia, and Cairo.”
- “The present town is of recent construction; the old city was that destroyed by the Franks in the time of al Malik as as-Salih.”
- “Their sheep and goats are allowed to pasture at liberty day and night; for this reason the saying goes of Damietta "Its walls are sweetmeats and its dogs are sheep."
Why It's the Best Answer
This question requires critical thinking to identify the correct answer rather than specific subject knowledge. We are tasked with finding the quote that could most easily reflect a misinterpretation of Damiettan culture and language by the author, Ibn Battuta, who you may remember is Moroccan. This is a great question to practice our skills with the process of elimination and critical thinking.
We can quickly remove the following choices: “The fish called buri is exported thence to Syria, Anatolia, and Cairo,” and “The present town is of recent construction; the old city was that destroyed by the Franks in the time of al Malik as as-Salih.” These are simply facts that the author is recounting, one regarding trade and the other the military history of the town. There doesn’t seem to be much room for misinterpretation in either of these choices, since these are straightforward comments that can be easily confirmed by a traveler like Ibn Battuta. Although this isn’t necessary to know for the purposes of answering this question, there was indeed ample intercity commerce in Egypt during this period, and during the Crusades Damietta came under attack several times by French forces.
The first option is a bit trickier. “Anyone who enters the city may not afterwards leave it except by the governor's seal. Persons of repute have a seal stamped on a piece of paper so that they may show it to the gatekeepers; other persons have the seal stamped on their forearms.” One could argue that Battuta may not fully understand the border control mechanics of Damietta, and that there was a more nuanced system than the one he describes. But in the absence of any new information, we should assume that the stamping technique he witnessed and reports is accurate to what was put in practice.
Finally, we come to the last choice: “Their sheep and goats are allowed to pasture at liberty day and night; for this reason the saying goes of Damietta "Its walls are sweetmeats and its dogs are sheep." A major clue here is that the author provides a quote that is supposedly commonly said in the city. Remember that this question is asking for the limitations of intercultural knowledge and understanding that could affect the accuracy of historical record. When interpretations of different languages and traditions are in play, it is often difficult to determine the true reason behind sayings, customs, and conventions. Additionally, it seems that the author is making a logical leap connecting the pasture habits of domestic animals to the “sweetmeats” and “dogs are sheep” expression, which may or may not be correct. With this clear uncertainty in cultural and lingual translation, we can be confident that this is the right answer.
2. Which statement best assesses the demographic effects of the spread of new food and agricultural techniques along the routes of Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo in the 14th century CE?
- As a result of increased agricultural techniques and food diffusion populations saw a net increase.
- Agricultural diffusion was prevalent only in Islamic controlled areas and had little impact on other regions of the world.
- Increased learning and food diffusion were offset by disease and war to result in no net change in population.
- The diffusion of agricultural techniques and new foods created a net decrease in worldwide population levels.
With the increase in food supply, populations increase. New agriculture technology and techniques allowed for more food to be grown and cultivated.
Why It's the Best Answer
The first answer is correct because the exchange of new foods and agricultural techniques increased the efficiency of farming and animal domestication along Battuta and Marco Polo’s trade routes. For example, better yielding forms of rice were brought to East Asia, and fruits such as Bananas and Citrus were imported to new lands. Not only was there more food from higher crop production, but greater variety also had health benefits that aided population growth.
There was indeed a population increase in Europe, Arabia, and Asia affected by agricultural diffusion. Knowing this fact can automatically lead one to eliminate options three and four which are just false. Population did not decrease or stay the same, it grew during this period. Although disease like the Black Plague and wars such as the Mongol Conquests had often devastating consequences, global population was still higher at the end of the period than at the beginning, largely due to improved agricultural techniques and availability.
Although the Islamic world greatly benefited from agricultural diffusion, it was not the only region to share in the rewards. The peoples of Europe, China, and the India received economic and agricultural benefits from their role in expanded intercontinental trade spurred by the routes of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta.
3. Which statement best evaluates the expansion, contraction, or change over time in trading networks demonstrated in the sources above?
- Additional trading routes were primarily added in Northern Europe during the 14th century CE.
- As a result of war, disease, and religious intolerance trade routes were contracting by the 14th century CE.
- By the 14th century CE multiple trade routes connected Europe, Asia, and Africa demonstrating a continuous expansion.
- There is little change in the size or scope of trading networks in the 14th century CE.
By the 14th century CE multiple trade routes connected Europe, Asia, and Africa demonstrating a continuous expansion, as reaffirmed by the passage and chart.
Why It's the Best Answer
Although Northern Europe did see the addition of trade routes to the East during the 14th century, predominantly over the Baltic Sea, it was not the only area to have increased inter-regional commerce in the Medieval Era. Trade networks expanded throughout the Levant as mentioned in the passage, and the Indian subcontinent received substantial commerce through overland routes and ocean travel from Arabia. Additionally, trans-Saharan trade was flourishing at this time, leading to the increased power of the Mali Empire, and later, the Songhai Empire.
The 14th century was a tumultuous time for sure: the Crusades, Mongol invasions, European conflicts, and disease killed millions in the Christian and Islamic worlds. Despite this, there is no evidence of a contraction or decrease in the number of trade routes. On the contrary, networks generally expanded during this period. This invalidates both the second and fourth answers as they provide an incorrect assessment of commercial patterns in the 14th century.
4. All of the following statements are true of the Tang dynasty EXCEPT:
- The capital city was the largest in the world.
- The empire expanded its territory to Tibet and Korea.
- The government discouraged trade and foreign influence.
- Buddhists were persecuted toward the end of the empire.
The Tang dynasty supported long-distance trade, and the Silk Road trade flourished during its reign. Foreigners were welcome, particularly in the enormous capital city of Changan, which was known for its quarters of foreign merchants.
Why It's the Best Answer
Changan, or Xian as it is known today, was the capital of 10 different Chinese dynasties, including Tang. It is located on the Guanzhong Plain in north central China. Estimates show that it was the largest city in the world for the majority of the Tang dynasty’s reign from 618 AD to 907 AD, just surpassing Baghdad at approximately 1 million inhabitants. Since this statement is true, we can eliminate it from our choices. Fun fact: Changan province is home to the Terracotta Army, commissioned by Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin Dynasty in around 200 BC!
The Tang dynasty did make territorial acquisitions in Korea and Tibet over its 300 year reign. The Korean territory contemporary to the Tang dynasty extended past the peninsula into Manchuria, and was comprised of several states known as the Three Kingdoms. From 645 AD to 668 AD the Goguryeo-Tang war was fought between Goguryeo -- the largest of the Korean Kingdoms -- and the Chinese Emperor. This conflict resulted in the occupation of the majority of the peninsula by Tang forces for nearly a decade before expulsion by Silla, a resurgent Korean state. The Tang dynasty also perennially engaged in conflicts with the Tibetan Empire from the 7th to 9th centuries. Tibet won many significant victories over the Tangs during the late 600’s and 700’s, including a temporary capture of Changan for 15 days in 763. It wasn’t until the 800’s when internal strife in Tibet gave the Tang dynasty the advantage necessary to annex substantial Tibetan land. This territory was referred to as the Guiyi Circuit, which is mostly still under Chinese control in the modern day.
Traveling the Silk Road was a long and treacherous journey through often hostile terrain. Too bad all-wheel drive -- or cars, for that matter -- hadn’t been invented yet.
The Tangs reopened the Silk Road after the conquest of the Western Regions, which was territory west of the Yumen pass that contained the primary land entrance into China. This period saw increased sea and land traffic. Previously, Chinese shipping only extended to India, but during the Tang dynasty traders began to conduct shipments as far as Arabia, Ethiopia, and Egypt. Significant cultural and goods exchanges occurred during the Tang dynasty. Popular imports included gold, dyes, ivory, glass, and even musical instruments. The Chinese exported materials like ceramics, spices, silk, and metals. New clothing styles came to China during this time as well as the transition from sitting on mats to using stools. Fancy! The Tang dynasty accepted emissaries from foreign states, including the Eastern Roman Empire. Clearly, trade and foreign influence were not discouraged during the Tang dynasty. In fact, they were supported by the government. We can safely mark this response as the incorrect answer.
Finally, the Buddhists of China were indeed persecuted in the 9th century by Emperor Wuzong after several hundred years of growing influence in the region. This statement is true, so it cannot be the answer
Period 3 covers a large part of human history often characterized by religious conflict, disease, and a lack of technological achievement by the West. However, this era was not without positive change. As mentioned earlier, this period witnessed a Golden Age of Islamic achievement in such fields as architecture, art, language, mathematics, chemistry, and printing. The Tang and Song dynasties were home to significant advancements in technology and administration; gunpowder and industrial infrastructure occurred in China before they came to Europe. This period also set the stage for global trade with the expansion of commerce throughout the known world: from Rome to Cairo to Constantinople to Calicut to Changan, goods traveled to new places and people like never before. Perhaps most important of all was the beginning of the Italian renaissance in the end of the period, which sets the stage for profound social, cultural, and political change in the eras to come.