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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/273

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269
SILVER

wholly different lines. Every department of life was more strenuous, and the results, naturally, were more notable. The increase of population was perhaps as great, but the destruction of life by wars and slavery was enormous. The arts flourished, especially architecture, but their product in the shape of buildings, highways, canals, libraries and museums was continually being looted by conquerors, yet this very ruthless destruction seems to have incited rather than discouraged advance and improvements. The sciences were developed up to the point where discovery began, literature to the stage, where it became imperishable because of the invention of comparatively simple methods of writing, society to a state where education was highly prized, religion to the conception of monotheism.

Between these two diverse and different kinds of humanity a trade slowly sprang into existence. It was first, doubtless, by way of the Arabian Sea, which at some time in the distant past was a "mare clausum," a Mediterranean, as the result of a land connection between east Africa and India, by way of Madagascar, the Seychelles and Andaman Islands; and later by caravan routes through the passes of the mountains. The western nations sought the luxurious and decorative products of the eastern, their fabrics of silk and wool, their manufactures of bronze, their gems and jewelry of ivory and jade. What could be given in exchange? It was early discovered that the money of the east was silver, that it was scarce there and its purchasing power great. Consequently when the strenuous west began to produce the metal in quantity, first from the mountains of Persia and Asia Minor, and later in Greece, Italy and Spain, it became possessed of an article with which the products of the east could be obtained. But the west loved war above all things, and had the warrior's immemorial contempt for trade, and so there gradually grew into existence, at the extreme eastern end of the Mediterranean, a nation of traders, the Phœnicians, who took charge of the commerce between the Occident and the orient, who never gained any celebrity except along commercial lines, and who for centuries were actually protected in turn by all the great powers of antiquity because of their trading ability, and their knowledge of where and how to get those products of Asia that Europe wanted. We know that the ships of Tyre and Sidon ransacked the shores of the Mediterranean for silver, and were the owners and operators of mines of that metal in Greece, Italy and Spain. Their product was sent overland by caravan, or over sea by ships sailing from ports first on the Persian Gulf, and later on the Red Sea, to India, and exchanged for the manufactures of the east. One of the most valued of these was tin. Malaysia has been from the most remote antiquity, and is to-day, a prolific producer of this metal, and very early in the history of the human race the ex-