The Eastern Hemisphere in 1100 AD

Wow look at this lovely map!  It was made by the incredibly gifted and generous Thomas Lessman (Source Website

1100 AD was near the end of the era when huge sophisticated civilizations existed side by side without knowledge of one another. The crusades started one year before 1099.  The coming Islamic conquest of India, China’s maritime expansion, the Mongol invasions, and the European age of exploration were about to mix all of these folks together in a big madcap chemistry experiment which we are still living through.  In 1100 AD, however, a knowledgeable English nobleman could somehow wear a Chinese silk robe with no knowledge of where it came from or how it got to him.

The Song Dynasty–in effect the real center of the world–was busy perfecting gunpowder, moveable type, and navigation while its scholars wrote treatises on medicine, botany, zoology, metallurgy and geology.  Bulwarked behind Byzantium, Christendom looked a bit stagnant although the crusades and the Renaissance were about to jolt Medieval society awake.  Look at Venice, the rapacious little worm on the bottom of the Holy Roman Empire.  The Dar al-Islam (countries in green) stretched from Rajasthan to Spain–with two little specks plucked temporarily away from the Fatimids by the brazen adventurers of the First Crusade. At the edges of the map are the unbreached expanses of Sub-Saharan Africa, the mysterious continent of Australia, and the realm of the sea-faring Polynesians (a second wave of people was invading Hawaii after it had been isolated for centuries).

Finally, on the other side of the planet, wholly unknown to every civilization on this map (except possibly for a handful of Icelandic Vikings) were the peoples of the Americas.  On the Yucatan, Maya’s splendor was fading. The Zapotecs were beginning their domination of Oaxaca.  The Mississippi culture was spreading across North America as forgotten peoples speaking lost tongues built huge earthwork cities in Illinois!

Kincaid sight: Illinois in the 12th century as painted by Heironymous Rowe