Handout 1 Trading Through the Ages Scenarios Time Period 1—This community was the capital of a colonial settlement. Its residents consumed food they grew nearby and used locally cut wood for fuel. Most of the tools, clothing, and other necessities were provided by community craftsmen. More expensive products and luxury items were procured from the home country over the ocean, as the transportation and banking systems favored close trade relations with the colonists’ original land. The community participated in a plantation economy, purchasing slaves from overseas and providing tobacco and processed rum in exchange.
Time Period 2—The members of this community practiced agriculture in the deserts and river valleys of their homeland. They grew corn and beans to support their small communities. An extensive network of villages and roads in a peaceful environment increased trade opportunities. They used quetzal feathers from lands over 1,500 miles to the south in their religious ceremonies, and traded for minerals and other items from across the continental landscape.
Time Period 3—The growth over the last century opened up new opportunities for trade, by creating new markets for new materials from new sources. This city was at the center of this growth. The need for coal and iron to build trains, rails, and ships attracted investment from this city’s banking industry. Cattle and corn from the center of the continent passed through great port cities to feed the city and its neighbors. The city used phosphate mined on distant island countries to support its weapons factories. Tea and coffee were popular beverages, although grown in the far reaches of the globe. Cotton from hundreds of miles away made residents more comfortable, just as furs from the north made them more stylish. Advances in communication, such as the telegraph, made it easier to meet schedules and make deals from across the country and across the ocean.
Time Period 4—This was the leading city in a desert land, and was arguably one of the most important cities along a trade route which stretched from one continent to another. This powerful merchant community participated in a complex trading network, as merchants from East and West would meet in its markets and trade for items unavailable in their own countries. Silk and paper, the secret of whose production was kept for centuries by Eastern traders, was traded for exquisite rugs and carpets produced near the market city. In turn, these products were traded for gold (and other precious metals), raw materials, and fine items made or mined in the West. Although this city was supplied with its basic necessities from nearby river valleys, it rose to become one of the greatest commercial centers the world has seen.
Time Period 5—The explosive expansion of the world economy over the preceding three centuries dramatically affected this community. Most of this community’s residents were only slightly aware of the level of internationalism of the trade that brought them so much. The plastic materials in computers, cars, clothing and entertainment devices were formulated from petroleum purchased from dozens of sources. The community consumes coffee, soda, fruit, meat, and vegetables as likely to come from the other side of the world as from their own country, but least likely to come from their own neighborhood. The strong flow of raw materials from resource-rich countries to their community was matched by the flow outwards of new products, intangibles like information and communication and services, that comprised an ever-increasing portion of the world economy. The necessities and luxuries that made up the daily life of the residents were rarely made in the community, and items made or services provided by the community were just as likely to be in demand in other countries.
Time Period 6—In this small, isolated village a community maintained a stable yet precarious existence, with little change in population over the centuries. Food was provided through agriculture and supplemented by hunting and gathering. Almost all clothing and tools were made by community members from natural sources near the village. Every year members of the village met with members of nearby villages and trade for a few precious products, such as religious items or perhaps new and unique weapons or tools. In return, they provided raw minerals or salt from sources near their community.