Connected Histories

When Asia Was the World: Traveling Merchants, Scholars, Warriors, and Monks Who Created the "Riches of the East"
by Stewart Gordon

Stewart Gordon uses the narratives of nine travelers to tell the story of Asia’s diverse economy and cultures between 500 and 1500 CE. During those thousand years, the world’s largest continent was the hub of global cultural and economic activity. Throughout Asia, and even to points elsewhere in the Eastern Hemisphere, goods and ideas moved along far-reaching trade routes traveled by religious figures, diplomats, merchants, mariners, and warriors. The travel narratives collected in When Asia Was the World portray the Asia first encountered by European explorers as a vibrant, ongoing enterprise, from which they both learned and profited.

Da Capo Press/Perseus Books Group, 2008


Stewart Gordon is a senior research scholar at the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan, where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships for research and travel and the author of five books on Asia.  Gordon regularly conducts workshops for high school, community college, and university faculty on the teaching of history. 

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