In the time period between 300 B. C. E. and 1100 C. E. trade flourished across the arid Sahara desert. The system was so successful that trading centers established during that time remain major Saharan cities today. This Trans-Saharan trade system underwent changes that included design developments in the camel saddle and increased trade with India, while at the same time the inhabitants of the area remained a polytheistic people ruled by regional kingdoms. Latin texts indicate that the camel was introduced to Africa from Arabia around 46 B.
The original camel saddle was designed for carrying cargo. Around 200 C. E., the trade saddle was greatly modified placing the rider in front of the hump in a lower position that provided the ability to maneuver the animal and wield a sword or spear effectively at the same time. This gave the northern Arabs an enormous advantage that allowed them to take control of caravan trade. Highly valued products such as spices from India and pottery obtained from China became available for Trans-Saharan trade through maritime deliveries across the Indian Ocean to coastal ports.
Gold, salt, slaves, and other goods flowed northward, dramatically increasing the volume of the vast trade system.
This tied Saharan Africa to the thriving Indian empire and allowed for more extensive international trade. It was a mutually beneficial relationship for the two powers. Although the Trans-Saharan trade caused the change discussed above, other aspects of sub-Saharan culture became so stable over the centuries that the area was isolated from the rest of the world that exposure to other peoples did not alter them. For example, the inhabitants of the Sahara continuously maintained their polytheistic religions as well as their regional kingdoms.
The Saharan people remained a place of scattered kingdoms that each had their own polytheistic religion. This is because all the kingdoms were isolated from each other and from the other empires by vast desert or vast oceans. The only link between these kingdoms were the trading cities which were actually a barrier to cultural diffusion. This is because if a merchant wanted the goods of a different kingdom, he only needed to go to the trading center and didn’t have to trek into the desert all the way to the other kingdom center.
This inhibited the merchant from experiencing the culture or religion of the kingdoms. In conclusion, the Trans-Saharan Trade system led to advancements in the design and function of camel saddles and transformed combat; this long distance trade also caused the growth of the prospering Indian Maritime trading system. Although these changes were profound, the Saharan residents remained a polytheistic people governed by small regional kingdoms because the long distance trade did not reach into every corner of the Saharan land, but only into the large trading centers.
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Continuity and Chang Over Time : Trans Saharan Trade. (2016, Jul 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/continuity-and-chang-over-time-essay-trans-saharan-trade/