Until the 12th and 13th centuries, cross-cultural interactions were unprolonged and less in number when compared to later centuries. However, the assimilation of much of the Eurasian landmass into the Mongol empire as well as the later European exploration of the Americas contributed to the creation of prolonged global connections in which the world’s major continents were connected. Two of the most notable developments include the caravel, which aided European explorers in their conquest of the Americas, and the stirrup and composite bow, which the Mongols used to conquer Eurasia and eventually led to the Pax Mongolica. These technological developments had major effects on both societies.
The caravel’s use in the 15th century accelerated
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However, because the Native Americans were not immune to the diseases that were brought to the Americas during the Columbian Exchange, millions died. These diseases such as smallpox helped kill off the native Taino population leading to the importation of enslaved Africans. The caravels and other square-sail ships with rudders were also used by Spanish explorers, who were inspired by Columbus to sail to the Americas. Hernan Córtes in the 1510’s conquered the Aztec empire in Mesoamerica, bringing back Aztec gold on these ships that were well-suited to carry cargo. Francisco Pizarro in the 1530’s conquered the Incan empire in South America, and he was able to bring back silver. He also brought back potatoes, which along with maize was high in calories. These new foods introduced into European diets eventually created a population boom. Some became staples in places like Russia and Ireland. Both of these explorers as well as others were helped by the caravel which allowed the sailors to sail against trade winds in the Atlantic. The caravel was suited both for deep seas and shallow waters, and was able to carry much of the sailors’ booty. A long-term result of the huge population losses for natives in the Americas from smallpox was the introduction of a new social hierarchy in Latin America. In this new social structure peninsulares (Spanish born Spaniards) ruled, creoles