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The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World—and Globalization Began

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From celebrated Yale professor Valerie Hansen, a groundbreaking work of history showing that bold explorations and daring trade missions connected all of the world’s great societies for the first time at the end of the first millennium. In history, myth often abides. It was long assumed that the centuries immediately prior to AD 1000 were lacking in any major cultural devel From celebrated Yale professor Valerie Hansen, a groundbreaking work of history showing that bold explorations and daring trade missions connected all of the world’s great societies for the first time at the end of the first millennium. In history, myth often abides. It was long assumed that the centuries immediately prior to AD 1000 were lacking in any major cultural developments or geopolitical encounters, that the Europeans hadn’t yet discovered North America, that the farthest anyone had traveled over sea was the Vikings’ invasion of Britain. But how, then, to explain the presence of blonde-haired people in Mayan temple murals in Chichen Itza, Mexico? Could it be possible that the Vikings had found their way to the Americas during the height of the Mayan empire? Valerie Hansen, a much-honored historian, argues that the year 1000 was the world’s first point of major cultural exchange and exploration. Drawing on nearly thirty years of research on medieval China and global history, she presents a compelling account of first encounters between disparate societies. As people on at least five continents ventured outward, they spread technology, new crops, and religion. These encounters, she shows, made it possible for Christopher Columbus to reach the Americas in 1492, and set the stage for the process of globalization that so dominates the modern era. For readers of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, The Year 1000 is an intellectually daring, provocative account that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about how the modern world came to be. It will also hold up a mirror to the hopes and fears we experience today.


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From celebrated Yale professor Valerie Hansen, a groundbreaking work of history showing that bold explorations and daring trade missions connected all of the world’s great societies for the first time at the end of the first millennium. In history, myth often abides. It was long assumed that the centuries immediately prior to AD 1000 were lacking in any major cultural devel From celebrated Yale professor Valerie Hansen, a groundbreaking work of history showing that bold explorations and daring trade missions connected all of the world’s great societies for the first time at the end of the first millennium. In history, myth often abides. It was long assumed that the centuries immediately prior to AD 1000 were lacking in any major cultural developments or geopolitical encounters, that the Europeans hadn’t yet discovered North America, that the farthest anyone had traveled over sea was the Vikings’ invasion of Britain. But how, then, to explain the presence of blonde-haired people in Mayan temple murals in Chichen Itza, Mexico? Could it be possible that the Vikings had found their way to the Americas during the height of the Mayan empire? Valerie Hansen, a much-honored historian, argues that the year 1000 was the world’s first point of major cultural exchange and exploration. Drawing on nearly thirty years of research on medieval China and global history, she presents a compelling account of first encounters between disparate societies. As people on at least five continents ventured outward, they spread technology, new crops, and religion. These encounters, she shows, made it possible for Christopher Columbus to reach the Americas in 1492, and set the stage for the process of globalization that so dominates the modern era. For readers of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, The Year 1000 is an intellectually daring, provocative account that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about how the modern world came to be. It will also hold up a mirror to the hopes and fears we experience today.

30 review for The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World—and Globalization Began

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    I think this book would have gotten a better reception in the 1990s when globalization was a buzzword with a little more shine to it. Still, the phenomena the author relates are real and important just not seen as an unalloyed good these days. We have been seeing increasing contact and trade and sometimes integration with different parts of the world since about the year 1000 there is no doubt about that. Just a reminder globalization looks different in 1900, 1950, 2000 and the present and each I think this book would have gotten a better reception in the 1990s when globalization was a buzzword with a little more shine to it. Still, the phenomena the author relates are real and important just not seen as an unalloyed good these days. We have been seeing increasing contact and trade and sometimes integration with different parts of the world since about the year 1000 there is no doubt about that. Just a reminder globalization looks different in 1900, 1950, 2000 and the present and each could be called globalized under very different geopolitical contours. All these periods were globalized but had very different characters and relations between the parts. So it is still very much a factor just not as neoliberal triumphalists imagined in their "end of history" moment in the 1990s. Good book if a little unfashionable at the moment.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    NYT review, by Christiane Bird: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/bo... Excerpt: "Today, we in the West tend to believe that it wasn’t until the late 1400s and 1500s, when Europeans sailed to the Americas and around the Cape of Good Hope, that the world became interconnected, and that it wasn’t until the 20th century that globalization developed. But, as Hansen shows, the Europeans were only using existing trade routes, and by the time they ventured forth, globalization, with all its pluses and m NYT review, by Christiane Bird: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/bo... Excerpt: "Today, we in the West tend to believe that it wasn’t until the late 1400s and 1500s, when Europeans sailed to the Americas and around the Cape of Good Hope, that the world became interconnected, and that it wasn’t until the 20th century that globalization developed. But, as Hansen shows, the Europeans were only using existing trade routes, and by the time they ventured forth, globalization, with all its pluses and minuses — cultural exchange and conflict, winners and losers, the growth of technology and the loss of tradition — was already well underway. One of the book’s surprises is its demonstration of how much life in the early 1000s resembled that in the 21st century. In those years, a citizen living in Quanzhou, China, could buy sandalwood tables from Java, ivory ornaments from Africa and amber vials from the Baltic region; attend Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist religious services; and, if well educated, read a Japanese novel or the latest writings of Islamic scholars." TBR. My kind of book!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    I learned a lot of surprising things from this book. The first was how wealthy and powerful Constantinople and the Islamic world were in the year 1000. In archaeology digs across Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, an estimated 400,000 Islamic coins from the tenth century have been found. Apparently the Islamic world purchased tons of slaves and furs from Eastern Europe -- in fact, the word "slave" comes from the word "Slav" for this very reason. Another thing that started around the year 1000 was tax I learned a lot of surprising things from this book. The first was how wealthy and powerful Constantinople and the Islamic world were in the year 1000. In archaeology digs across Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, an estimated 400,000 Islamic coins from the tenth century have been found. Apparently the Islamic world purchased tons of slaves and furs from Eastern Europe -- in fact, the word "slave" comes from the word "Slav" for this very reason. Another thing that started around the year 1000 was tax collection. For the first time, plundering chieftains were replaced with tax-collecting monarchies. And Hansen describes the pros and cons of taxing commerce versus taxing land, something I had never thought about. It was interesting to read about the beginning of large monarchies and how they formed. The Vikings chapter was also fascinating. Who knew there was such strong evidence that the Vikings arrived in Central America long before Columbus, or that African ships gone off course had also arrived in America before 1492? Highly recommend!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    The Year 1000 by Valerie Hansen is an engagingly informative look at, well, the year 1000 (though Hansen move forwards and backwards from that date for context. Hansen argues that the trading relationships (and routes) created around this time were the first form of globalization, paving the path to our current world. A non-exhaustive list of cultures Hansen covers includes the Vikings (particularly their travel to North America), Mesoamerica (such as the Mayan trade with Southwestern US cultures The Year 1000 by Valerie Hansen is an engagingly informative look at, well, the year 1000 (though Hansen move forwards and backwards from that date for context. Hansen argues that the trading relationships (and routes) created around this time were the first form of globalization, paving the path to our current world. A non-exhaustive list of cultures Hansen covers includes the Vikings (particularly their travel to North America), Mesoamerica (such as the Mayan trade with Southwestern US cultures at Chaco), Scandanavian travels east where they were known as the Rus, connections between China, Japan, India, Korea, and more. While Hansen points to some of the similarities beween our world and the one covered in the book, she also makes the important distinction that during this time when civilization met for the first time, their level of technological/military technology was pretty equal, unlike for example when the Europeans met Native Americans several centuries later. While Hansen covers the well-known, she also introduces several less known cultures, and some that were wholly unfamiliar to me. I’m no historian, but I do read a lot of popular history, so that was a welcome bit for freshness. The same is true for some of the trade relations and items. Furs and gold, spices and amber were well known to me, but some of the “aromatics” were less well known. Hansen’s style is always clean, lucid, and engaging. Despite covering a lot of ground (literally) and throwing a lot of regions, cultures, names at the reader, she keeps her audience well grounded in time and place and theme. An excellent popular history book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    Most historians date the emergence of globalization to the Columbian Exchange, the transfer across the Atlantic of goods, mineral resources, edible plants, slaves, and contagious diseases that began shortly after Christopher Columbus “discovered” the New World. Yale history professor Valerie Hansen begs to differ. In The Year 1000, Hansen presents a detailed case for backdating globalization to the global upsurge in trade and religious conversions around the end of the first millennium. Her case Most historians date the emergence of globalization to the Columbian Exchange, the transfer across the Atlantic of goods, mineral resources, edible plants, slaves, and contagious diseases that began shortly after Christopher Columbus “discovered” the New World. Yale history professor Valerie Hansen begs to differ. In The Year 1000, Hansen presents a detailed case for backdating globalization to the global upsurge in trade and religious conversions around the end of the first millennium. Her case rests largely on archaeological and documentary evidence of the robust trade in goods that accelerated around the year 1000. It’s a provocative argument, but a little strained. (Others report observing the emergence of globalization centuries before the Common Era—with even less justification.) Arguing that globalization began with the Vikings in North America Hansen’s argument rests in part on the evidence of the short-lived Norse settlements along the far northeastern coast of North America beginning in 1000. That the evidence exists is not in dispute. However, because the Norse stayed in the region only a few years and established no lasting ties with the Amerindians who lived there, it’s a stretch to argue that they inaugurated anything like the Columbian Exchange. Globalization is a global phenomenon that required the integration of the New World with the Old. And that took place only in the sixteenth century, not the eleventh. Archaeological finds and documentary evidence Still, Hansen makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the past by highlighting to a greater extent than I’ve found elsewhere the impressive scope of international trade in the closing years of the first millennium and the early years of the second. Citing archaeological finds and the less abundant documentary evidence, she points to the trade routes that linked the peoples of Mesoamerica with those of the present-day United States. Similarly, she points to the robust exchange of goods among the Andean peoples and those of the Amazon region. Robust Asia trade almost convinces that globalization began then However, the most extensive trade relations around the year 1000 involved China, India, and the peoples of East Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast and East Asia. Hansen convincingly makes the case that the region we might now describe as that of the Indian Ocean and the China Seas was, in fact, integrated to a degree that affected the daily lives of millions who lived in states along those shores. It’s a colorful story worthy of Marco Polo himself. And it almost convinces that globalization began then. The West was not a significant factor Westerners may today be less ready to recognize this story because, at the time, Europe was a backwater. There was interaction between the nascent states of France, Germany, Italy, and Russia, on the one hand, and those of the wealthier and much more advanced societies of the Middle East and Central Asia. But that interaction was limited. The Norse notwithstanding, Europe was not a significant factor in what passed for globalization in the year 1000. If globalization began then, it didn’t involve people who spoke Germanic or Romance languages.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    The Year 1000 by Valerie Hansen is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-March. Neat, this shines a light on the mysterious, deep-sea trench that is ancient civilized history. Hansen’s voice is excellent, guiding, and can be relied upon for an occasional witty bon mot on the topics of well-stocked marketplaces with a wide variety of fancy imported goods, population studies, forms of leadership, agriculture, spoken and written languages, religions, travel, ocean voyages, contested borders betw The Year 1000 by Valerie Hansen is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-March. Neat, this shines a light on the mysterious, deep-sea trench that is ancient civilized history. Hansen’s voice is excellent, guiding, and can be relied upon for an occasional witty bon mot on the topics of well-stocked marketplaces with a wide variety of fancy imported goods, population studies, forms of leadership, agriculture, spoken and written languages, religions, travel, ocean voyages, contested borders between countries, skirmishes, and warfare.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Hogan

    Finished The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World - and Globalization Began by Valerie Hansen, the noted Yale Professor that explores the world wide exploration and trade break out that took place around the Year 1000. Professor Hansen does a wonderful job bringing the people and civilization to life from this under studuied period of world history. A ground breaking book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John Machata

    3.75 stars Some 4 star chapters and some 2 stars. Thoroughly appreciated the overall message that around the year 1000 was the era of the first world globalization. On the other hand to hypothesize that Norsemen were captured and marched to Mezoamerica without and archeological or genetic proof. Life is too short to read of historical fantasy! Mostly fascinating history.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cool_guy

    An interesting overview global interconnectedness around the year 1000. Especially interesting was the development of cash crop and resource extraction economies in SE Asia to meet Chinese and middle eastern demand. The author tries to hard to shoehorn the processes which brought the world together at the 1st into a contemporary concept like globalization

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Wentzell

    I really enjoyed The Year 1000. I grew up on the West Coast of Newfoundland, not far from the Viking settlement at Lanse aux Meadows, and this book made the context of that settlement come to life in an entirely new way. Hansen made a vast story comprehensible, tackling the world by geographic regions and showing how globalized the world was in the year 1000, with trade stretching all the way from Newfoundland around the world to the Pacific Ocean, and within North America. Amazing. She did a wo I really enjoyed The Year 1000. I grew up on the West Coast of Newfoundland, not far from the Viking settlement at Lanse aux Meadows, and this book made the context of that settlement come to life in an entirely new way. Hansen made a vast story comprehensible, tackling the world by geographic regions and showing how globalized the world was in the year 1000, with trade stretching all the way from Newfoundland around the world to the Pacific Ocean, and within North America. Amazing. She did a wonderful job of using tangible items and ideas that affected people's daily lives to make these vast distances comprehensible. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in history and geography generally, but especially if you are interested in trade, world religions, and exploration.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Davis

    It was eye-opening to enter into such an exciting view of interregional connections. As globalization has presented new possibilities for historical research, this book is the perfect demonstration of what a powerful effect that can have when executed with a rigorous and engaging pen.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Claire Banks

    I picked up this book after listening to her fascinating talk with The Explorer’s Club in New York City. It’s filled with incredible stories about the ways in which humans and ideas were moving about the globe, way earlier than I had ever imagined. Professor Hansen is a great storyteller and brings to life this rich history of the roots of globalism that traditional schoolbooks don't teach about. The book compiles deep research from a variety of sources and pulls them together in a really compelli I picked up this book after listening to her fascinating talk with The Explorer’s Club in New York City. It’s filled with incredible stories about the ways in which humans and ideas were moving about the globe, way earlier than I had ever imagined. Professor Hansen is a great storyteller and brings to life this rich history of the roots of globalism that traditional schoolbooks don't teach about. The book compiles deep research from a variety of sources and pulls them together in a really compelling way. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether you're a history buff.

  13. 4 out of 5

    penny shima glanz

    The Year 1000, attempts to explore the rise of globalization, however it doesn't quite reach this ambitious goal. Written in an approachable style, regions throughout the globe are examined through political, religious, economic, and sociological lenses at this specific point in time. Unfortunately there is no real thread to tie all of these chapters together and show how the year (on or about) 1000 was the triggering point that helped lead to globalization. It was challenging to read of increas The Year 1000, attempts to explore the rise of globalization, however it doesn't quite reach this ambitious goal. Written in an approachable style, regions throughout the globe are examined through political, religious, economic, and sociological lenses at this specific point in time. Unfortunately there is no real thread to tie all of these chapters together and show how the year (on or about) 1000 was the triggering point that helped lead to globalization. It was challenging to read of increased exploration and travel during pandemic and self-isolationism. It's an interesting read as a historical review at a specific moment but the reader will need to explore additional resources to piece together the rise of globalisation. I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The FTC wants you to know.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Miller

    Those who learned world history through a Eurocentric lens will find Hansen's book eye-opening and fascinating as she documents the extensive trade networks that existed in the Americas, Far East, Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa long before the European "Age of Discovery". These networks encouraged significant changes in affected societies, e.g., workers switched from agriculture and rural living to industry and urban living because trade routes created high demand for certain products suc Those who learned world history through a Eurocentric lens will find Hansen's book eye-opening and fascinating as she documents the extensive trade networks that existed in the Americas, Far East, Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa long before the European "Age of Discovery". These networks encouraged significant changes in affected societies, e.g., workers switched from agriculture and rural living to industry and urban living because trade routes created high demand for certain products such as Chinese ceramics that required manufacturing complexes and a paid workforce. And this long before the Industrial Revolution in Europe many centuries later. So Hansen argues that globalization is nothing new, having a long history throughout the world.

  15. 4 out of 5

    RWBresearch

    This book demonstrates the wide span of global trade and exploration long before the so-called "age of discovery" in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. I did learn a great deal from this book: for example, about the Vikings and their adventures far beyond what I had understood; or the passion for aromatics that drove so much of trade in the mid- and far East. The account is fairly dry, I will confess, and I felt edified more than entertained. But it was good to "read" or rather hear, in shor This book demonstrates the wide span of global trade and exploration long before the so-called "age of discovery" in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. I did learn a great deal from this book: for example, about the Vikings and their adventures far beyond what I had understood; or the passion for aromatics that drove so much of trade in the mid- and far East. The account is fairly dry, I will confess, and I felt edified more than entertained. But it was good to "read" or rather hear, in shorter bites, in my pre-lunch walks around the neighborhood.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Boardman

    This is a well-done, interesting book. It’s written in a style that I thought was somewhere between popular and academic, and some sections could drag, but the book is full of fascinating bits of history. I was entranced by the stories of Viking voyages and settlements in North America, and the ancient pseudo-geographical ideas like the Torrid Zone from Ptolemy and the Ultimate Drain from the Song Dynasty. Learning about ancient voyages and ancient trade illuminates the ancient world in a way we This is a well-done, interesting book. It’s written in a style that I thought was somewhere between popular and academic, and some sections could drag, but the book is full of fascinating bits of history. I was entranced by the stories of Viking voyages and settlements in North America, and the ancient pseudo-geographical ideas like the Torrid Zone from Ptolemy and the Ultimate Drain from the Song Dynasty. Learning about ancient voyages and ancient trade illuminates the ancient world in a way we don’t get to see much.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Not bad. I haven't read many history books, but seemed less researched than I expected, and contain more conjecture than I'd prefer. However, similar approaches have resulted in more accurate history periodically. That doesn't mean it's not interesting. If you're not a serious history buff, I suspect this may be of interest to the curious who are OK with a typically dry read of history. 3.5 stars. Thanks very much for the review copy!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ronan Lyons

    A quirky but enjoyable tour through the world/world economy at the turn of the first millennium. This is a quick read, rather than a deep dive, and it's pretty idiosyncratic - I suspect some of the conjectures included are disputed - but that rather speaks in the book's favour than against it. Ultimately it's hard not to like the book and even if you are familiar with many of the individual parts, it's brought together very well.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Lots of information. I was not aware of any of this history, so it was an eye opener and very interesting. I used the audio version, but I think a regular book would be better due to so many unfamiliar terms and also wanting to go back or slow down in some areas. I do recommend the book but believe a different version other than audio would be better.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    There is compelling evidence that globalization started long before we usually think of it. This was an interesting look at routes and realms in the decades surrounding the year 1000. I also enjoyed learning about the sources and how archaelogists figure out some of this stuff.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ryan McDermott

    Enjoyable Read This was a great introduction to the history of global trade. It's mostly a very high level view of things, but it provides a good starting point to direct you towards further learning if the history of global trade interests you.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    There's a lot I didn't know, and more that I was taught that, given recent advances in the field, turns out to be outdated. I was especially interested in the role of religions, and the focus on the whole world rather than just "the world through its impact on Europe."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim Ogden

    Very cool look at how connected the world of 1000 was. Most detailed on the Indian Ocean trade and Islamic world. But chapters on the Norse settlement of the Americas were almost couldn't be put down.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    This was not as in depth as I might have wanted - it is a solid overview of a large, busy chunk of human history.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Annarella

    A fascinating and well researched book that made me learned a lot about year 1000. I strongly recommend it. Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    A very well researched book. The writing is accessible if not overly simplistic at times.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    NF-History 246 pages Informative.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stevejs298

    Interesting subject. But, I found the book lacking. Mostly I found the author presenting information, rather than telling a story. Hence, I found the book generally as exciting as a text book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barry

    Interesting material but poorly written and frustratingly repetitive.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    I always enjoy this time period and the author did a wonderful job bringing these civilizations to life. You can read my full review on my blog: https://allthebookblognamesaretaken.b... I always enjoy this time period and the author did a wonderful job bringing these civilizations to life. You can read my full review on my blog: https://allthebookblognamesaretaken.b...

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