In c. 1200, major trade routes ran from Europe across Asia, and to northern Africa – including Tunis, Tripoli and the Nile Delta – into sub-Saharan East and West Africa. The Black and Caspian Seas were important trade centres, acting as hubs for trading routes to and from Africa, Asia and Europe. The Silk Road (an ancient network of trade routes from east to west) connected Europe, the Middle East (Mecca and Cairo) and Africa to the Jin and Southern Song Empires. The Indian Ocean trade route began to flourish, with Swahili Africa an exporter of gold, tin and ivory to India. Major African trade routes moved goods using camel caravans, and traded mainly in gold and salt. The Silk Road traded in silks and ceramics (and from c. 1200, gunpowder) in return for gems, tin and livestock. European trade was buoyant; many towns thrived on trade, particularly in luxury goods, such as wool.
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