Friday, 27 April 2018

Trade Route Maps

There's a pervasive idea the medieval Europe was a self-contained entity that knew nothing about - and had no trade with - distant lands. Two people have set up maps that show how interconnected the ancient and medieval worlds really are.

The first is a map by Sasha Trubetskoy of the Roman roads, done up as if they were modern subway routes. While Rome built roads so as to transport troops quickly, they also facilitated trade. Her map doesn't show water routes, which would have also been extensive, but it's fascinating looking at how far the empire's reach was. She's got some notes at the bottom where she lists the limitations of her map (she sometimes changed or created names, conflated two roads into one, that sort of stuff).

The second is by Martin Mnsson, which shows his third updated Medieval trade networks during the 11th and 12th Centuries. And they are EXTENSIVE. Consider where spices came from and how they were used in cooking. Consider the luxury goods the nobility desired. There's a fantastic book called The Alchemy of Paint by Spike Bucklow that goes into a lot of the exclusive materials used in art and where they were mined (and many came from outside Europe). Mnsson has a link where you can download a high definition version of his map.

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