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26 November 2005

The Growth of Global Trade 3500 BC - AD 1500

Plotted at 500-year intervals, the successive snapshots used [...] show the proliferation of trade routes which supplied a growing urban network. Beginning with the earliest cities of Mesopotamia, in the fourth millennium BC, a cumulative process of expansion continued down to the present day. Growth was not even, either in space or time; the Persian Gulf network collapsed around 1700 BC, and there was general contraction at the end of the Bronze Age, in the late second millennium BC—followed by very rapid expansion in the early first millennium BC, at the beginning of the Iron Age. Interaction with China, already evident in AD 1, shifted the centre of gravity to the Indian Ocean; until discovery of the New World brought a new importance to the Atlantic coastlands.

Global trade routes

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