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Monsoon Winds 

to the "Land of Gold" 

TRADE SIMULATION ACTIVITY
 
DEVELOPING THE TOPIC III: Trade Simulation
In this activity, your students continue to work in groups that will represent major production centers for goods traded by sea during the period from 100 BC to 100 AD. They will make tokens to represent "luxury goods" that were typical of their culture.  In a four-round simulation, they will trade for the goods they desire. 

Preparation:

Make eight new groups (A-H) for the simulation. 
Group A
Rome
      Group H
Cattigara
  Group B
Alexandria
Group E
Barygaza
   
  Group D
Muza
Group F
Muziris 
Group C
Aromata
    Group G
OcEo 
Begin with a short activity designed to show the class how misinformation and exaggeration (about the origins of spices) occurred in ancient times. 

To do this, remind the class of the children's game of "telephone." The teacher will whisper a short tale about the origin of storax to one student on one side of the classroom. One by one, each student will whisper this "secret information" to the next person. (It is quite likely that the message will not travel accurately very far!)

"The people are tall. . . (and look like) the Chinese. That's why it is called Great Ch'in. The land produces the rhino which frightens chickens. They collect various fragrances and boil the juice to make storax." 

The Roman Empire in Chinese Sources, DD Leslie and KHJ Gardiner, p. 109.

Discuss simple economic concepts: 
  • What would a culture trade? (natural resources or manufactured goods
  • What if they produce more of an item than can be consumed locally? (surplus) 
  • Does this affect the market for the item? (supply versus demand)
Using "Import/Export For All Regions"  review the major items and resources that were available for trade. Assign students to: 
  • examine the list of imports/exports for their culture
  • work together to determine what goods they will make for trade using what they have available. 
Note: There are some items are in bold; these were major exports. Encourage the groups determine what they can bring to trade. Students can make tokens (drawings on cardboard) or alternately, students can bring "real" goods to trade.
Optional activity: distribute excerpts of the Periplus of Erythraean Sea which relate to specific entrepots in the trade simulation:
  • passages #20 through 24,
  • passages #29 through 38
  • passages #41 through 50 
  • passages #53 through 66 
After reading these primary sources, what information do they realize about early maritime trade?

Trading: 

Trade will occur in four rounds and may occur only between the groups designated on the Exports by Region sheets and the Teacher's Guide to Trading Rounds.  Remind students that this is an activity designed to study the "spice trade." Emphasize that the spices were nearly as valuable as gold once they were imported to distant places along the trade route. 
 
Begin by distributing the   Student "Major Import/Exports By Region" Instructions and Student Record Sheets to everyone. Have them make an inventory of all the items their culture has to trade. They should try to function as a "group" and not as as individuals as much as possible. 
Ask group members to discuss what items they must obtain. These are indicated on the student worksheet. Remind the students that they are merchant/traders. What items would be valuable to sell in the markets in their own cities? What might be rare? 
 Go over Student Record Sheet. Students must record all transactions on their sheet for analysis after the simulation has been completed.
The teacher can help by announcing the time for changing rounds.
Round One: One person from each group goes to the entrepots indicated bringing items that are marketable. (Other items should be "left at home" for other visiting traders to obtain.) 

A student may only visit the group indicated on their region's worksheet. Allow five minutes for the trading of goods. Upon their return to their own group, encourage them to discuss what seemed to be "valuable."

Round Two: A new student (or two) from each group goes to trade (at the site indicated). As before marketable items must be carried to that group for trade. Items obtained during the previous round may be traded again. Allow five minutes for trading. 
Rounds Three and Four: Repeat trading procedure with new student traders moving to the regions indicated. By the final round of trading, be sure that all students have had an opportunity to travel to another port to trade. Allow five minutes for both sessions.

When all the students have returned to their home groups, have them complete their "inventories" listing what was obtained during each round. Circle the particular "required" imports (those items underlined on initial trade sheets).

Debriefing: Allow time for small-group discussion of the following questions:

  • What export(s) did you learn was "in demand" in other regions?
  • What did your culture try to obtain that was "costly?"
  • What item(s) was so rare that you could not obtain it?
  • Was it difficult to obtain the "required" items? Why?
  • What items did you obtain that were "tradable" in other regions?
  • Did you see items that were too "costly" to obtain?
  • What would you do differently "next time?" 
  • What culture(s) did you trade with?
  • What did you learn about trade from doing this activity?
CULMINATION and ASSESSMENT
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