The Trade Development in Gotland & Great Zimbabwe


Yanir Seroussi
Social Studies
4/11/96


There were many differences and similarities between the ways
trade has developed in Gotland and in Great Zimbabwe. In this
essay I would discuss the most important ones, that can indicate
something about trade development in other places in the world.
The time span in which trade has developed and came to its
highest level in both places was about the same. In Great
Zimbabwe it was between the 10th and the 16th centuries. In
Gotland it started in the Vikings age end (9th century) and
ended in the 16th century. The trade was reduced radically after
these eras have passed. The main reason for it in Great Zimbabwe
was social and environmental reasons_Great Zimbabwe was
abandoned. Another reason is that the Portuguese began exploring
southeast Africa and made colonies there, that weakened the Shona
Kingdom even more. In Gotland the trade amounts were reduced
because it stopped being an independent island_it was vanquished
by its enemies. The conquering of a place could affect the trade
and its development for the worse.

The geographical locations in both places have affected the trade
development. Both places have coasts. In Gotland, which is an
island, it was probably hard to create trade connections when the
ships were not so developed. When the ships were more advanced,
Gotland was used as a trade station_ships from the Baltic area
got equipped and traded with the Gutar. Great Zimbabwe is found
in the mainland but it is close to the coast. Great Zimbabwe\'s
region contains many gold resources and it is a good agricultural
zone. The location of an area and the resources in it could
affect the trade and its development tremendously. The markets
that the merchants in each place traded with were ones that the
best way to reach them was by sailing. The people from Great
Zimbabwe used the winds that are blowing in the Indian ocean and
the Arab sea to navigate to the places they traded with. The
places are: southern Arabia, India, China. The Gutar traded with
ships that came to Gotland from the Baltic area. In the golden
age of the trade in Gotland the Gutar have reached to places all
over Europe and even to the Mediterranean sea countries. Both
places have traded with countries of their areas since the ships
were not so well developed at that time_unlike today, they were
not good and safe enough for very long sails. In the past
an access to a sea or an ocean could affect the trade and its
development.

The goods that were traded depended on the resources available in
each place. The goods traded by the merchants from Great Zimbabwe
were: ivory, gold, and iron. It was easy to get these materials
there_gold and iron were produced from ores, and the ivory was
taken from the elephants that were common there. The merchandise
in Gotland was: sandstone, wax, furs, amber and picture stones.
The people got sandstone from quarries, furs from animals, and
made wax, amber and picture stones from materials that were
prevailing there. The more needed or valuable the goods were, the
richer the traders became. The religion in both places was an
important part of life and trade. In Gotland religion affected
the trade in each one of the eras_Christianity and pagan. In the
pagan time picture stones were used, among other things, for
religious ceremonies and they were exported from Gotland to
the countries of the Baltic. When Christianity appeared in the
area, the Gutar have exported wax, which is used for candles in
churches, to all of Europe. Some say that religion was the most
important thing in Great Zimbabwe\'s society and therefore it must
have affected their whole life_including trade. Christianity has
made the trade of Great Zimbabwe weakened since it came with
losing their independence. The people of Zimbabwe have lost their
culture and religion and became less united as one nation_these
are usually the effects that a forced change in a nation\'s
culture and religion can bring, the Portuguese have done this in
other countries, too. The Portuguese have also taken over the
trade_it made the people of Zimbabwe more demoralized and less
wealthy_they were too weak to keep their culture and religion.
Religion can have good effects and bad effects on trade.
To conclude I can say that the way trade develops in different
areas depends on many things and there are similarities in the
general effects on the amount of trade and how good it is. The
small details are not very important_like if the goods traded are
ivory or sandstone_a certain pattern of