Review the geography of the Mediterranean region.
Become familiar with the routes of early traders.
Classroom-size world map
1 per student
Map of Europe, Africa, and Asia (attached)
Direct the students' attention to the classroom world map. Ask: What city is the capital of Italy? (Rome) Have a student locate the country of Italy and the city of Rome on the map. Review with the students that some of the geographical features of the land on which Rome was built made it a wise place to build a city. (Rome was built on hills alongside which a river flows. The hill made visibility of surrounding areas good.) Ask: What would be beneficial about living in a city that was next to a river? (travel by boat, water for drinking, bathing and farming)
Ask: What kind of landform is the country of Italy? (a peninsula) Ask the students to define peninsula. (A piece of land that extends out into a body of water.) Ask: Into which body of water does the Italian peninsula extend? (the Mediterranean Sea)
Next, direct the students' attention to the country of Spain. Review that the country of Spain, like Italy, extends out into the water. Ask: What natural barrier separates Spain from the country of France? (the Pyrenees Mountains) Have a student locate the mountains on the world map.
Tell the students that the geography of an area affects the way people live. For example, mountains act as a natural barrier making travel from one side of the mountain to the other side difficult, whereas waterways make travel easier and faster. Explain that early traders depended a great deal on water routes to get to various cities to trade or sell their goods.
Give each student a copy of the attached map. Tell the students that by traveling on the bodies of water, people were able to transport goods back and forth between cities that were not easily accessible by land. Have the students follow along on their maps as you give the following example: Imagine a tradesperson in Italy wanted to ship his goods to Egypt. If he had to use only land routes the goods would have to travel up the Italian peninsula, east across Europe, south through Asia Minor to Syria and across to the west bank of the Nile River. Show this route on the map.
Next, direct their attention to the Mediterranean Sea. Tell the students that access to the Mediterranean Sea made this trip from Italy to Egypt easier. Show the students that the trades person was able to instead travel by boat from Italy across the Mediterranean Sea to Egypt.
Ask: If a trader had access to the Mediterranean Sea, to which continents would the trader be able to travel by boat? (Europe, Africa, and Asia) Ask: If a trader were traveling by boat only, to which other bodies of water would he be able to get? (the Atlantic Ocean, the Black Sea, the Danube and Nile Rivers)
Tell the students that traders also used a combination of land and water routes. Direct the student's attention to the classroom world map and point out the trade route as you describe it. For example if a trader wanted to travel from Spain to India to trade goods from Spain for valuable spices from India, a possible route would be to travel by boat across the Mediterranean Sea to the eastern coast of the sea. Then travel by land across the Middle East through what are today Iran and Pakistan to India.
Tell the students that other bodies of water that were important to
early traders were the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean.
Have the students notice that the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf open into
the Indian Ocean. Point to the bodies of water on the classroom world map.
Have the students notice that because the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf
connected to the Indian Ocean, areas in Asia and on the eastern coast of
Africa were made accessible to traders.