History of Technology 2: Indian Ocean's Trading Network

The Indian Ocean's trading network gave junks and dhows a hip new place to sail. Unfortunately, it didn't give either of them hip new names. Seriously, junks? Terrible name.

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TechnologyHistory of Technology

Transcript

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cities and empires. it was like the Walmart of the ancient world only with

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better worker's comp. and more than just money was being exchanged ideas for

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legends languages and even people moved freely around the Indian Ocean. for a

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while India was the economic and cultural center of the world, and if you

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don't believe us ask yourself one simple question where was old Columbus trying

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to sail when he accidentally hit the Caribbean? yep India. but back to the

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ocean at hand. the Indian Ocean is the smallish ocean between Eastern Africa

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India and Australia. lots of prosperous cities and kingdoms

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sprang up around the edges of it and lots of clever folks started [old ship on the ocean]

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experimenting with sailing and ships to get around it. by the 1300s that ocean

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was basically a giant freeway without traffic jams. but what kinds of ships

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were making this Indian Ocean trade thing such a big hit ?well mostly

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Dhows and junks which were two types of Asian boats. both Dhows junks were

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complex technological innovations and they both helped build that amazing

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Indian Ocean trade network. gold stars for both of you. so let's take a look at

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these boats starting with junks. well they might not have the most

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awe-inspiring name but junks definitely got the job done and no they weren't

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junky. there are plenty of different types of junks but they share some basic [ship has hurt feelings]

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similarities. they all have large square sails that are fully battened which

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means there are strips of wood going across

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them horizontally. these sails were super strong and could be moved quickly to

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sail into the wind. they also had double hull design which means that the bottom

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of the boat is well squarish. that doesn't sound like the slickest design

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but it had two big advantages: the boats did very well in shallow waters because

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there was no deep keel and they could carry very heavy loads. we mentioned gold

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before didn't we? yeah, Gold's heavy. and junks could carry trunks upon trunks of

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the stuff which of course led many to ask what you gonna do with all those [lots of boxes stacked on a ship]

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trunks? all those trunks inside your junks? pretty sure that was the

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inspiration for the Black Eyed Peas song. anyway the first trunks were built in

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China around 200 CE and they remained China's number one favorite ship for

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centuries. in 1405 a Chinese Admiral named Zheng Qi led an expedition with

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over 300 junks, some of which might have been the largest wooden ships ever built

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at the time. alright enough about junks let's talk about the Dow's which are the

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total opposite. unlike big clunky junks dows tended to be small and streamlined

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with a single triangular sail. they're very maneuverable and lightweight and

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pretty simply built. Dow's were the perfect boat for coastal

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trading between cities and it didn't take all the resources of a huge empire

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like China to fund and build them. for people who knew what they were doing

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they were pretty simple to build, though considering the last time we built [man tries to understand instructions]

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a table from Ikea he ended up sobbing in the fetal

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position when we won't be attempting to build the Dow anytime soon.