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UNIT 11: Early Empires

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READINGS

Reading 1

Candice Goucher, Charles LeGuin, and Linda Walton, "Trade, Transport, Temples, and Tribute: The Economics of Power," in In the Balance: Themes in Global History (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998), 231–45.

Abstract: This essay explores the material conditions that gave rise to increasingly centralized, hierarchical social organizations between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. In particular, it focuses on two empires in very different parts of the world: the Mali Empire in West Africa, and the Mongol Empire in Eurasia. Of central importance are the ways in which military conquest, trade, and technology aided the development of these empires.

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Reading 2

Liu Xinru, "Migration and Settlement of the Yuezhi-Kushan: Interaction and Interdependence of Nomadic and Sedentary Societies," Journal of World History 12, no. 2 (Fall 2001): 261–92.

Abstract: Interactions and interdependence between nomadic and agricultural peoples are important topics of world history. This article seeks to track the migration and transformation of the Yuezhi-Kushan from a nomadic people residing on the borders of agricultural China to the ruling elite of an empire embracing much of central Asia and south Asia. Interactions between nomadic and sedentary peoples had impacts on both Yuezhi-Kushan society and the agricultural societies that traded with the nomads (such as China) or those that were ruled by nomads (such as India).

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Reading 3

Nicola Di Cosmo, "State Formation and Periodization in Inner Asian History," Journal of World History 10, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 1–40.

Abstract: The history of empires created by inner Asian peoples bears direct relevance to the conceptualization of world history down to the early modern period, as their impact on surrounding civilizations resulted in long-lasting demographic, economic, and political changes. This essay explores the basic mechanisms of state formation in inner Asia and presents an argument for the periodization of inner Asian history based on the incremental ability of inner Asian empires to extract from outside sources the wealth necessary for the maintenance of political and military state apparatus. On this basis, the essay proposes a four-phase periodization, including ages of tribute empires (209 B.C.–A.D.551), trade-tribute empires (551–907), dual administration empires (907–1259), and direct-taxation empires (1260–1796).

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