Networks of trade and exchange have been an important feature of world history. This was true both in Afroeurasia and the Americas. People not only acquired goods they needed and wanted from outside their immediate region, but they also received technological, religious, and other ideas from the people with whom they had contact. In this unit, students will learn that by Big Era Five (300-1500 CE) indigenous peoples of the Americas had developed extensive networks of trade and exchange. They will also learn that they accomplished this even though they had no pack animals (except for llamas in the Andes), no wheels, and no carts.
We tend to think of our contemporary world as unique with regard to the web of connections we share with others around the globe. It is important for us to remember that connections between different human societies have always been a feature of world history. What is different today is only the complexity and speed of our interconnections.