Mongol Group B1

transcontinental connections

Our group will examine the transcontinental connections established by the Mongol empire from the following five perspectives:


Infectious diseases:

In the history of humans against infectious diseases, there has never been a disease that is as terrible as the great plague that occurred in the 1444 and 1950s. In just six years (1347 to 1353), this unprecedented catastrophe claimed the lives of about 25 million Europeans, accounting for one third of the total European population at that time. This catastrophe was caused by the Black Death. The source of infection for the Black Death is Yersinia pestis carried by rodents and other rodents. The Yersinia pestis causing the Black Death originated from Mongolian gerbils, and the earliest carrier of the Black Death pathogen was the Qincha Khanate Warriors. In 1347, the Mongolian army of the Chincha Khanate began to attack the Black Sea port city of Kafa. The Mongols suffered great losses due to the stubborn resistance of Kaffa’s defenders. The Mongolian general ordered the trebuchet to throw the corpse into the city, causing the soldiers and civilians in Kafa to be infected with the plague. In this way, Kafa City will not be destroyed by itself. The Mongols’ move soon succeeded, and the rotting corpses quickly turned into a plague and spread in the city of Kafa. It didn’t take long for Kafa to fall. However, what no one thought at the time was that the plague in Kafa City did not die out with the end of the war. The Black Death is obviously a major disaster in history. However, the epidemic inadvertently broke the autocratic status of the European church. Many people began to believe in science rather than in God. Thus changing the direction of civilization development in Europe and the world.



As the primary approach of Mongol expansions, warfare stimulated transcontinental connections directly and indirectly. From nomads of the steppe, Mongol, through warfare, was able to conquer vast areas of Eurasia and achieve the greatest land power ever based on the vast numbers of cavalry with high speed and mobility and their superior strategy and tactics. Originated in Mongolia, the Mongol empire later expanded to the Arctic Ocean to the North, Southern Sea to the South, Black Sea to the West, and Korea Peninsula to the East. While conquering initially unknown lands, the Mongol empire also learned from local military strategies such as siege warfare for subsequent conquest. Local expertise and tactics have constantly influenced the way Mongol army conduct war. Therefore, from the perspective of transcontinental connection, the Mongol Empire not only connected vast lands across Eurasia under the same regime but also employed military strategies developed in different regions for further expansions. The Mongol conquest, in general, can be characterized into three periods which were reigned separately by Genghis Khan who unified the steppe, Ogedei Khan who attacked Europe, and Khulai Khan who conquered China and attacked Japan. This page focuses on the Western expedition of the Mongols, specifically how Europe was incorporated into the Mongol power and how vast lands of Eurasia was unified. Moreover, it intends to analyze the incorporation of local military strategies with the Mongol army.


Intercontinental Trade flourished under the Mongol Empire’s unification of Eurasia:

Transcontinental trade no doubt flourished under the unification of Asia under one Mongol Empire. Modern Mongol literature have focused on the Mongol’s favorable attitude towards merchants and trade, from Chingiz Khan’s readily-docuemented interest in commerce to the Ilkhan and Jochid settlement in territorial dispute purely because they desired trade to continue. These literatures have constructed a distorted view that the Mongols themselves did not actively engage in trade but simply facilitated trade by protecting trade routes and reducing border tax. Although, contemporary literature has begun correct this view, I wish to construct a clearer image on how active Mongol engagements with ortaq merchants during the Mongol empire and early Yuan period improved transcontinental trade and connections. First, I preface my argument by outlining the unique symbiotic relationship shared between pastoral nomads and merchants. I will detail the role the ortaq merchants played. I will then describe how the active engagements between Chingissid princes began under Ogedëi’s rule. I will finally briefly go into detail the privileges granted to ortaq merchants and how they became entrenched in Yuan institutions.



In my individual project, I will examine on how Mongol conquests affected the balance of artistic production created an environment of tremendous cultural exchange, creating a so called “Pax Mongolia”. My essay will be divided into two parts. In the first part, how the adoption of Tibetan Buddhism lead to the Sino-Himalayan school of art in the Chinese Yuan dynasty. In the second part, I will use the Persian national epic – Shanama (Book of Kings) as a representative of the art of book painting to examine how the Mongol Empire led the culture connections intercontinentally. Then the connections between art and foreign ruler’s identity, political unification, trade, religion will be briefly evaluated.



General information:

Marco Polo: The Description of the World



Prazniak, Ilkhanid Buddhism: Traces of a Passage in Eurasian History


Roxann, Sudden Appearances : The Mongol Turn in Commerce, Belief, and Art



Hymes, Epilogue: A Hypothesis on the East Asian Beginnings of the Yersinia pestis Polytomy



“Dadu in Khitai (Great Yuan).” In Sudden Appearances: The Mongol Turn in Commerce, Belief, and Art, 176-98. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2019.


Carboni, Stefano, and Komaroff, Linda, eds. The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256–1353. Exhibition catalogue. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002.,



ENDICOTT-WEST, ELIZABETH. “Merchant Associations in Yüan China: The ‘Ortoy.’” Asia Major, vol. 2, no. 2, 1989, pp. 127–154. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Dec. 2020.


Enerelt Enkhbold (2019) The role of the ortoq in the Mongol Empire in forming business partnerships, Central Asian Survey, 38:4, 531-547, DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2019.1652799