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Chapter 8 Confrontation of Cultures Interview Questions Answers

Question 1 :
Compare the civilisation of the Aztecs with that of the Mesopotamians.

Answer 1 :

The civilisations of theAztecs and the Mesopotamians have been compared in the following table:

Basis

Aztec Civilisation

Mesopotamian Civilisation

Location

The Aztecs inhabited the area of Mesoamerica (middle America).

The Mesopotamians inhabited the region between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris(modern day Iraq, Kuwait and Syria)

Period

12th–16th century CE

10,000 BCE–7th century CE

People

Nomadic people of Central Mexico

Comprised people from different cultures

Society

Had a well-structured society with the nobles at the head. Serfs, servants and slaves had a low rank in the hierarchy.

Also had a hierarchical society. There were three ranks: nobility at the top, free citizens at the middle and slaves at the bottom.

Economy

Agriculture was the most important work. The Aztecs cultivated pumpkins, potatoes, squash, etc.

Organised agricultural practices. Proper irrigation facilities available. Temples offered loans for agriculture. Main produce were barley, grapes, onions, etc.

Decline

Constant wars and climatic changes were responsible for the decline of the Aztec Civilisation.

European invasion was the cause of the decline of the Mesopotamian Civilisation.

Question 2 :
What are the new developments helping European navigation in the fifteenth century?

Answer 2 :

The existence of European people came to light to the Caribbean and the South Americans only when they started navigating across the Atlantic Sea. Several innovations and developments of the period facilitated these long voyages. First among them was the extensive use of the magnetic compass during the 15th century. This instrument helped the sailors in finding directions in the middle of the ocean. Second important development was the construction of large ships. These ships helped in easy carriage of huge cargos and instruments. These cargos and instruments, in turn, were used to protect the sailors from the attacks by the enemy ships. The third important development was the widespread circulation of travel literature and books on cosmography that further created interest to venture the sea. Ptolemy’s ‘Geography’ became available in 1478 and was widely read. He had arranged the regions of the world in terms of latitudes and longitudes. He had also suggested that the world was spherical. Such works indeed helped sailors to tread the unknown sea paths.

Question 3 :
Give reasons for Spain and Portugal being the first in the fifteenth century to venture across Atlantic.

Answer 3 :

There are several reasons for Spain and Portugal to become the first nations in the 15th century to venture across the Atlantic. Some of these factors have been enlisted below.

1) Political Factors: In 1453, the Orthodox Christian Constantinople fell before the Ottoman Turks. The control of the trading routes to the East was now controlled by the Turks, who charged heavy duties from the Italians for the trade. There was, thus, the urge to find new trade routes to the East. Both Spain and Portugal were lucky to have strong rulers and innovative sailors who took up this task. Innovators such as Prince Henry of Portugal established training schools for the navigators, and thus encouraging large-scale-sea-borne explorations. Spain, on the other hand, was brimming with confidence after being victorious in several contemporary military conquests led by Cortez and Pizzaro. These victories gave a boost to their ambitious spirits and a further kick to venture new sea routes to new colonies.

2) Religious Motives: The missionary zeal to convert more people to Christians was a primary reason to look for new lands.

3) Economic Factors: The zeal to convert people to Christianity soon encouraged the political and economic interests of the Europeans. The crusades against the Turks, for instance, was based on religious motives but it, in turn, also increased the demand of Asian goods in Europe, thus, encouraging trading between the two lands. For the Portuguese, West Africa was an unexplored land rich in spices and gold. Thus, their colonial adventure began with the attack on this rich land of resources in 1415.

Question 4 :
What new food items were transmitted from South America to the rest of the world?

Answer 4 :

The food items transmitted from South America to the rest of the world were as follows:

1)  Avocado: This is a pear shaped fruit, believed to have magical powers by the Mayans.

2)  Chilli Pepper: A spice that is used commonly in almost every cuisine worldwide, were grown by the Native Americans.

3) Chocolate: The Mayan and Aztec cultures used cocoa, which was produced from seeds of the cocoa tree, native to South America. Chocolate has become an integral food item in the world.

4)  Papaya: This fruit was originally cultivated in tropical America.

5)  Peanuts: These nuts were domesticated in South America. Later, they became very popular in China in the 1600s.

6) Pineapple: This fruit was used by the Native Americans to tenderize meat.

7) Potato: Originated in the prehistoric mountains of Argentina, potato was taken back to Europe after migrating through all the Americas.

Question 5 :
Write an account of the journey of an African boy of seventeen captured and taken to Brazil as a slave.

Answer 5 :

Peter, a boy of seventeen, was being taken to Brazil as a slave, far away from Kitaisa, a small village in Africa. Peter had never been on a sea voyage before. He was afraid and frightened thinking about his fate. He was aware of the condition of the slaves abroad.  He had seen many of his friends and family being captured and sent to America and never had he seen them return. What had become of them, did they survive the harsh conditions of the mines and plantations where they had been working or had they succumbed to the extreme torture? He pondered upon such questions as he looked around himself and saw others like him shackled in heavy iron chains. Packed below the deck of the ship like animals, he could not even get to see the sunlight. All slaves were packed so close to one another that they could not reach the toilet buckets. Thus, they lay in their own filth. The dark, damp  and filthy deck made Peter sick. He wished he could just run away to the safety of his home. However, there was no relief for him. The violent storm instead increased the time of the voyage from the usual six weeks to thirteen weeks.  The terrified faces of panic and fear and the cries of the women and children made him feel more ill.  Some slaves did try to resist but were beaten badly. The terror of the Americans resisted any slave to rise further. When the thirteen days voyage came to an end, Peter had grown weak. Yet, he survived to endure worse in his days as a slave.

Question 6 :
How did the 'discovery' of South America lead to the development of European colonialism?

Answer 6 :

The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus opened the gates of the land to more European colonial powers. The 'New World' soon emerged as the most coveted zone for the Spanish and the Portuguese. The Spanish were very aggressive in their approach and, within a short span of fifty years, were able to control a major part of the Western Hemisphere. To fulfil their greed for gold and the desire to convert the natives to Christians, the Spanish left no stone unturned. They used both military strength and the fear of gunpowder to shun all efforts of the natives to revolt against the European power. The Spanish friar Bartolome de las Casas, the most severe critic of the Spanish conquerors, observed that the Spanish often tested their swords on the naked flesh of the Arawaks.  

The colonisation of America helped the Spaniards in various ways. They were able to attain gold and introduced to new nutritious American foods.  The constant flow of goods and money from the colony helped to make the Spanish land more prosperous. This success established Spain as a dominant colonial power in the world stage.

The Portuguese were the next to follow. They were only interested in the trade of timber from Brazil. To protect the trade link, many Portuguese traders started settling in the Brazilian coast. These Europeans, over time, started the production of sugar-cane. These activities facilitated the expansion of the Portuguese-controlled areas and shrinkage of the native lands. The success of the Portuguese in America soon attracted other Europeans to the land. Thus, it can be stated that the discovery of the land rich in resources attracted Europeans and led to the development for colonialism.


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