When did globalization begin? Most observers have settled on 1492, the year Columbus discovered America. But as celebrated Yale professor Valerie Hansen shows, it was the year 1000, when for the first time new trade routes linked the entire globe, so an object could in theory circumnavigate the world. This was the 'big bang' of globalization, which ushered in a new era of exploration and trade, and which paved the way for Europeans to dominate after Columbus reached America.
Drawing on a wide range of new historical sources and cutting-edge archaeology, Hansen shows, for example, that the Maya began to trade with the native peoples of modern New Mexico from traces of theobromine - the chemical signature of chocolate - and that frozen textiles found in Greenland contain hairs from animals that could only have come from North America.
Introducing players from Europe, the Islamic world, Asia, the Indian Ocean maritime world, the Pacific and the Mayan world who were connecting the major landmasses for the first time, this compelling revisionist argument shows how these encounters set the stage for the globalization that would dominate the world for centuries to come.
The year 1000 CE marked the first chapter in the story of globalization, according to this vivid and edifying account by Yale University history professor Hansen (coauthor, Voyages in World History). Contending that trade networks established during this period set the stage for Europe's age of exploration five centuries later, Hansen highlights Viking voyages to North America, goods and information that traveled 2,000 miles between the Mayan city of Chich n Itz and Chaco Canyon in present-day New Mexico, and the slave and fur trades that linked the Byzantine Empire to Scandinavia. Hansen also documents the spread of Islam to Africa and central Asia, China's thirst for Middle Eastern aromatics, and the arrival of Malaysian sailors in Madagascar. Noting that travelers who met each other in 1000 CE "were much closer technologically" than 16th-century Europeans were to the indigenous peoples of the New World, Hansen suggests that the period offers a key lesson for today: "Those who remained open to the unfamiliar did much better than those who rejected anything new." She displays a remarkable lightness of touch while stuffing the book full of fascinating details, and easily toggles between the big picture and local affairs. This astonishingly comprehensive account casts world history in a brilliant new light.