Sample History Research Paper on The Genesis and Globalization of Trade

The Genesis and Globalization of Trade

Globalization became a catchphrase after the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless, globalization is a phenomenon that has existed for a long time due its recurrent past events.[1] Historians like Adam Smith associate globalization with the historic events of the year 1492 and 1498. Other historians argue that globalization originate from earlier years. Nonetheless, no explanation has provided full information about the expansion of trade and the genesis of globalization since the existence of humankind. The historic perspective of globalization of trade is subject to unending debate. Many scholars have been able to situate origins of modern globalization of trade but it has a long historic origin, which they have not been able to exploit. The globalization concept is the driving force for the new world.[2] Despite all the arguments, it is apparent that globalization of trade was enhanced by the growth of trade routes that linked different parts of the world. This paper analyzes the genesis and globalization of trading and trade routes.

Andre Gunder Frank, a renowned economist, is among the ardent proponents of the view that globalization has a deep history. According to Frank, the concept of globalization of trade was presented during the onset of trade links between Sumer and the Indus Valley civilization that occurred in the third millennium B.C. [3]Nevertheless, this presupposition has received numerous criticism as an over exaggeration of the globalization concept. The roots of modern globalization are clear even in early pre-historic period. For instance, the territorial migration of the ancestors in the five continents represents a significant element associated with globalization. Moreover, the early development of agriculture was a major step in enhancing globalization of trading that transformed large populations across the globe to adopt a settles lifestyle. One of the barriers to ancient globalization was lack of transport infrastructures since there were long distances that led to interactions between people of different culture and nations.[4] The development of globalization of trade was at its peak in the 19th century, triggered by the development of transport and infrastructure that allowed mobility of capita and labor. This process made the world a global village.

Ancient Globalization of Trade

This is the earliest form of globalization of trade that took place in the Hellenistic Age. During this period, there were developed commercial urban metropolis, which focused more on the Greek cultures spreading from India to Spain. Cities incorporated in this trade included Alexandria, Athens and Antioch, which were the main centers. The extensive trade gave rise to the notion of cosmopolitan culture, which refers to a world city. Another form of early globalization of trade is also derived from the trade links between the Roma Empire, Han Dynasty and the Parthian Empire. Increased trade ties between these empires triggered the growth of the Silk Road, commonly known as the Silk Route that originated from Western China through Parthian empire to Rome.

Another significant period of ancient globalization of trade was the Islamic Golden Age. This form of trade was prompted when the Jewish and Muslim traders and explorers created a continuous economy in the whole world, which resulted in globalization of agricultural products, trade, technology and education. During this period, global crucial farm crops, such as sugarcane and cotton were grown in this region and the requisite of learning Arabic language and completing the Hajj established a cosmopolitan culture in the Arab world.

Furthermore, the creation of the Mongol Empire in the Middle East also contributed vitally in enhancing transport along the Silk route. It also facilitated the destruction of commercial centers that were growing up in China and the Middle East. The empire allowed explorers and evangelists, for instance, Marco Polo to travel effectively from both ends. During the thirtieth century, the establishment of Pox Mongolica also triggered expansion of trade through formation of a transnational postal service. It also facilitated other hazardous effects like spreading of epidemic ailments, such as bubonic plague in the newly formed Central Asia Region.[5] These are some of the earliest forms of global interactions, which form the origin of trade globalization, commonly referred to as ancient globalization, which existed up to the sixteenth century.


Proto-globalizationis commonly known as the second stage of globalization of trade. This period is characterized by the growth of European empires in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The earliest empire to be created was the Portuguese, followed by Spanish, Dutch and British empires respectively. In the seventeenth century, the concept of globalization of trade was privatized when the organizations like British East India Company, which had been instituted in 1602, were created. This era was also characterized by the Age of Discovery, which saw a major transformation in internationalization because of extensive interaction between Eurasia and Africa in terms of culture, material and biological altercation with the new world.[6] This commenced in the fifteenth century during the exchange of exploratory journeys between the Portuguese empires and the Americans. Towards the end of the same period, the Portuguese began to create business plants in Asia, Brazil and Africa that manufactured homegrown commodities like timber and gold. Despite the fact that this step established an international business center, it was under a royal monopoly. Globalization of trade continued, particularly through the colonization of Americans by Europeans, which triggered the Columbian Exchange.[7] The Columbian Exchange involved a massive prevalent interchange of plants, animals, food, slaves and culture between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Historically, the period marked the most important international events of agriculture, ecology and culture from different people globally. The products, especially food exchange, played a significant role in enhancing population growth globally.

Contemporary Globalization

Present globalization of trade was widely apparent in the nineteenth century, and it was taking the modern shape. This was triggered by industrialization, which stimulated the production of cheap household products applying economies of scale. The rapid increase of population also increased the demand of the products. After the end of the First and Second Word Wars, China was opened up to the international trade. Generally, China and India provided a huge market for European exports. Furthermore, other areas like Sub Saharan African and PACIFIC Islands became part of the global trade system. The scramble and petitioning of Africa by European powers also contributed to a high supply of raw materials to European production plants, thus increasing production and investments among the nations, their colonies and the United States.

Globalization of Trading and Major Trade Routes

Trade routes are logistical systems acknowledged as series of pathways and stoppages for commercial conveyance of cargo. Trade routes allow goods and products to be transported to far distances across nations and continents. In the history and development of globalization of trade, several global routes facilitated transport of goods and products, which enhanced trade. The routes included the following:

The Bronze Age Route

The Bronze Age took place between 3300-2100 BCE, and it was characterized by the connection of Sumer cities to the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt, which triggered a global trade. The itinerary linked the Eastern section of Asia to Aegean and other destinations globally. From the error of Akkadian empire, which was 2300 BC, Mesopotamia rulers ensure that all routes that connected Anatolia, Central Asia and Mediterranean Sea were under their control and influence, alongside river Euphrates and Tigris, which were characterized by good environmental conditions.[8] These routes were significant to the region since they brought in copper, bronze and other luxury products like silver.[9] The products were exchanged with other trade goods like manufactured products, wool and bitumen. The bronze trade route existed since Neolithic times. Nonetheless, the route was developed further during the onset of the obsidian trade and the Bronze Age trade that linked different networks into a global coordination of commerce.

The Silk Route

The Silk route was one of the eminent paths that joined the Western and Easters worlds.[10] The route lasted for many years, outliving numerous wars, empire and plagues. The closure of this route is known for stimulating the Portuguese to search for an ocean route to Asia, leading to a historic period opening. The Silk route mainly linked China to India, and the Middle East (Central Asia) to Europe. The areas around the route were sparsely populated and dangerous. Kingdoms around the route were also characterized by rising and falling. The regions around the Silk route were also known for banditry, wars and nomads, which made it treacherous yet money spinning. The route provided an avenue for exchange of goods, such as Chinese silk to the Roman Empire, slicken clothing to Roman elite and means of spreading religion and technology from eastern to western nations.[11] Gunpowder from China through Arab nations was also transported through the route to Europe.

British Indian Spice Trade Route

The spice is the southern passage route that connected Asia, Africa and Europe, mainly by sea.[12][13] In the year1640, the English East India organization gave out Bombay Island as part of dowry in the marriage between Catherine of Braganza and Prince Charles II of England. Afterwards, the Island together with other settlements turned out to be the beginning of the organization’s domination in India. This opened a trading route in which the organization exported silk and cotton to Europe and other clothing products like indigo. Through the established route, the organization also imported Indian spices from Europe that brightened their food. With time, the European manufactured goods were flooded in the Indian market. The organization also transformed into a local government, which collected levies and fought battles that ultimately put India under the imperialism of Britain.

Trans-Saharan Trade Route

This route originated from the Northern African Saharan desert through the Mediterranean along the powerful Niger Basin and West African Coast.[14] However, the route was also dangerous to cross. The incentive to use the route was extensive during the middle ages with the need to transport and exchange gold from Ghanaian and Malian empires in West Africa in exchange of salt that was found in the Mediterranean coast.[15] Due to the nature of the route, the commodities were transported along the route alongside slaves and other products like cowry shells and kola nuts in mass caravans of camels, slaves, soldiers and traders. Because of these trade routes, many cities grew, for instance, Timbuktu, Djenne and Gao.[16] The Trans-Saharan route nonetheless declined due to the impact of the newly created Portuguese sea route along the African coast, which was more efficient and cheaper to use.

Saudi Arabian-U.S. Crude Oil Trade

This route relationship became important when the U.S. discovered that the Arabian Peninsula had significant reserves of oil during the Second World War. This was important to the U.S. because it could help in supplying oil to its planes and tanks used in the wars. After the war, the U.S. extended the relationship with Saudi Arabia, thereby triggering an oil concern. Originally, the U.S. and U.K. had developed greater hegemonic power ties, but with the Saudi link, the nation started importing oil from the Saudi.[17] This made Saudi to become the global swing supplier of oil, and it could alternate prices at any time. Therefore, since Saudi wanted to become the main supplier of oil, it reduced prices thus hurting the USSR. However, the relationship between Saudi and the U.S. was criticized since the U.S. only focused on oil and other issues like human rights. However, this link ended when the U.S. discovered their own oil supplies and Saudi oil exports headed for China.[18]

Incense Route

The incense route was an early trading route that connected early Mediterranean civilizations with incense, spices and precious stones that were commonly called Southern Arabia. The products that were traded on this route included frankincense, which was a milky sap that was derived from Boswellia and applied in perfumes.[19] The scents that were contained in the perfumes were costly in Ancient Egypt since they were used to reduce the smell of early sewages. To protect this trade route and the precious product, the Egyptians constructed cities and forts along the Arabian Peninsula. The means of transport used in this route were camels, caravans in the land and sea along the red sea.[20]

Amber Route

The amber route was the European trade route that was linked with the transportation of amber.[21] Amber was a highly demanded product around the Mediterranean and was efficient to be transported in long distance because it was light. Amber was mainly used for ornamental purposes. The Ochre product that was exchanged in the amber route was the glass bead.[22] The amber path was the only route accessible for transportation of products in long distances before the creation of the Roman Empire centers like Pannonia. During the first century, numerous centers along the amber route began developing steadily, which was later obscured by the Danube river trade route.

Grand Trunk Route

The grand trunk route linked Chittagong and Peshawar in Bangladesh and Pakistan respectively. This itinerary was operational for close to more than two and a half ages. The grand trunk path was among the significant routes in the world history of trade globalization, proving transport and other facilities like fortresses, wells and post offices. [23]Furthermore, a section of the trunk route also overlapped with the famous silk itinerary in Pakistan. The trade route was commonly associated with emperors Chandragupta and Suri because of the role they played in ensuring safety and maintaining the good condition of the road. Emperor Suri went further and expanded the route linking it to other significant routes. This action provided numerous inns to the empire, which offered basic incentives like food and lodging to the travelers. The British colonization and presence along the route played a significant role in developing it, particularly for the British Raj in India.

Lapiz Lazulli Route

The lapis Lazulli route originated from the Chagai mountains that is commonly referred to as Pakistan to Egypt through Hierakonpolis in the 4th millennium B.C.E.[24] This is one of the oldest routes in the history of trade globalization. The route name resulted from the commodity it transported, Lapis Lazulli. This product was a highly priced precious mineral with bright blue color that was significant in religious items in the Ancient Egypt.[25]

Middle Passage Route/Slave Trade Route

This route is among the commonly acknowledged routes in the history of human beings. It is considered a triangular trade route.[26] The middle passage route was mainly for transporting human commodities. It was a slave trade corridor, which supplied slaves from Western and Northern Africa to work in the American, European and Caribbean white plantations.[27] They were exchanged for other commodities like gold and guns.[28] The slave trade in this period was highly profitable and ships rotated in a triangular form from Europe, Africa and America transporting slaves.[29] Slave trade lasted from the early fiftieth century to nineteenth century, though some slaves have been transported to Brazil as late as 1860s. [30] This is the reason most black origin individuals in Europe and America have West African origins as result of the Middle Passage trade route. Nevertheless, despite the fact that most of these trade routes were used for slave trade, other commodities were also exchanged on this route, for instance, items from the Western Hemisphere like chocolate, corn, tobacco, and sugar, which were transported to Europe.

Fur Trade Route

The fur trade route is traced back to the seventeenth century. It was triggered by the European exploration and settlement in Northern America.[31] This form of trade was mainly conducted along riverine routes, particularly along Hudson, Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Due the Europe’s high demand for fur to make men’s huts, the trade heightened among the natives and Europeans. The fur could be carried in bulk since they were light.[32] Due to increased demand that could barely be handled by the local people, large organizations like Hudson Bay were formed as distribution centers for fur from America to Europe. This continued until the nineteenth century when fur was almost depleted and its supply decreased.

Modern Trade Routes

The modern trade routes have been established through advancement of the transportation system that links the entire world through land, air and sea. Today, globalization of trade has been made easier through different forms of transport transferring the whole world, for instance, development of vehicles, trains, aeroplanes and ship that transport goods and commodities.

Trade routes formed a significant part of early civilizations and globalization of trade. Several trade routes were created, broken, fought over and politicized in exchange of better benefits. Nevertheless, these trade routes would evolve depending on the value and preciousness of the product it distributed to different places. The commodities that were mainly exchanged and influenced these routes include gold, bronze, ivory and cowries among others, given their durability and perishability factors. Due to continuous exchange along the routes, any material that could be interchanged would be traded along the routes among different people from different continents. Moreover, other parties like scholars, soldiers and explores were also common along the trade routes and would be part of the exchange trade routes to meet their human needs. Apart from trade, other elements like ideas and culture were also exchanged along the trade routes among different people. These led to the development of languages like Swahili, which incorporated African and Arabic words. The trading language unified different people along the trade routes. Globalization as a result of the trade routes has also improved the lives many people, especially in Africa.[33]

In as much as trade routes played a significant role in the globalization of trade, they also resulted in negative outcomes, especially in the societal change. Several conflicts arose as a result of trade routes that were attached to their economic consequences.[34] Several empires arose and fell due to the routes, which resulted in different social economic impacts. For Instance, European discovery of Asian route highly affected West African Tran Saharan trade route. Slave trade also affected several families in Africa. The trade also triggered the spread of killer diseases like the black plague in Europe and small pox in America.


The origin of globalization of trade is an old concept that gained recognition during the industrial revolution and the era of technological advancement. Numerous early forms of trade among different people across the globe began a long time ago. One of the main hindrances of this form of trade was lack of a connecting route or transport system between different people. Nevertheless, trade routes played significant roles in exchange of goods and commodities in human history and development of globalization of trade. The exchange of commodities and culture is the backbone of the modern technological and economic globalization of trade that is playing a significant role in the world. The magnitude of trade that was conducted in these trade routes in early days reveals the urge that human beings had. They were creative and longed for globalization. Trade routes are a strong evidence that played a significant role in the globalization of trade.


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[1]. Justin Jennings, Globalizations and the ancient world (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

[2]. Joseph Stiglitz, Making globalization work (WW Norton & Company, 2007).

[3]. Andre Frank, ReOrient: Global economy in the Asian age ( Univ of California Press, 1998).

[4]. Manfred S. T. E. G. E. R, “Globalization: A very short introduction.” (2003).

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[8]. Thomas F Tartaron, Maritime networks in the Mycenaean world (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

[9]. Slattery Tom, The Tragic End of the Bronze Age: A Virus Makes History (iUniverse, 2000).

[10]. Vadime Elisseeff, The silk roads: Highways of culture and commerce (Berghahn Books, 1998).

[11]. Natalie Goldstein, Globalization and free trade (Infobase Publishing, 2010).

[12]. John Keay, Spice route (London: John Murray. 2006).

[13]. Richard Bulliet, Pamela Crossley, Daniel Headrick, Steven Hirsch, and Lyman Johnson. The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History (Nelson Education, 2014).

[14]. Ralph Austen, Trans-Saharan Africa in world history (Oxford University Press, 2010).

[15]. Ian Blanchard, Mining, metallurgy and minting in the Middle Ages. Vol. 3. (Franz Steiner Verlag, 2005).

[16]. Dierk Lange, Ancient Kingdoms of West Africa: African-centred and Canaanite-Israelite Perspectives; a Collection of Published and Unpublished Studies in English and French (JH Röll Verlag, 2004).

[17]. Christopher M Blanchard, Saudi Arabia: Background and US Relations (DIANE Publishing, 2010).

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[19]. Lodi Nauta et al., “NEW ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY’S HOLDINGS Week ending October 25, 2010.”

[20]. Barry K Gillsand William R. Thompson, Globalization and global history (Psychology Press, 2006).

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[22]. Audrone Bliujiene, Northern Gold: Amber in Lithuania (c. 100 to C. 1200) (East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450-1450) (Brill Academic Publishers, 2011).

[23]. Ron, Brown, In Search of the Grand Trunk: Ghost Rail Lines in Ontario (Dundurn, 2011).

[24]. Maria Eugenia Aubet, Commerce and colonization in the ancient Near East (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

[25]. Peter Moorey, Ancient Mesopotamian materials and industries: the archaeological evidence (Eisenbrauns, 1999).

[26]. Sukanya Banerjee, Aims McGuinness, and Steven C. McKay, 2012. New routes for diaspora studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press).

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[29]. Pearl Sharp and Virginia Schomp, The Slave Trade and the Middle Passage (Marshall Cavendish, 2007).

[30]. Toyin Falola, Encyclopedia of the middle passage (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007).

[31]. Barbara Huck, Exploring the fur trade routes of North America: discover the highways that opened a continent (Heartland Publications, 2002).

[32]. David Wishart, The Fur Trade of the American West: 1807-1840; a Geographical Synthesis ( U of Nebraska Press, 1992).

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[34]. Paul Robertson, “Globalization in World History–By Peter N. Stearns.”Australian Economic History Review 52, no. 1 (2012): 97-98.