Local Knowledge Meets Global Trade: Cross-Cultural Information Exchange during the Middle Ages.

3 May 2010
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Matt Sargent

European expansion and exploration began well before the voyages of Columbus. Following the Mongol expansion of the mid-thirteenth century, Papal emissaries, missionaries, traders and adventurers traveled to Asia, and these travelers stayed for years in royal courts, created expatriate trading enclaves, and established long-lived Christian missions in Asian cities. But what did Europe learn about Asia from these first interactions?

The talk will address this question by surveying the information on economic and medical botany that was channeled to Europe through these early travelers. These bodies of information are of particular interest because they relied on access to knowledgeable local informants rather than simply the unmediated observation of nature. By examining the patterns of information flow and the reception of this knowledge in Europe, I hope to highlight the factors that variously impeded or facilitated the exchange of accurate information.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Office for the History of Science and Technology

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