Geographical patterns of history
Europeans did not create their large trading networks from scratch, but used and connected pre-existing networks.
Geographical patterns of history
2T2C: Talent, Technology, Capital, Cognition

Geographical patterns of history

Norbert Csizmadia 27/03/2024 10:27

Europeans did not create their large trading networks from scratch, but used and connected pre-existing networks.

Futurologists predict that artificial intelligence will be more important than the steam engine that started the industrial revolution. However, AI is not a parallel to the industrial revolution, but to the great geographical discoveries.

Throughout history, the great geographic discoveries have been described in roughly 500-year cycles. As György Matolcsy, Governor of Magyar Nemzeti Bank, Hungary's central bank, writes in his book Hungarian Vision and Strategy 2010-2030: "In the last 500 years, the nations that have risen are those that have turned money into capital, invented and introduced new technologies, provided knowledge to broad sections of society and given room for talent to flourish", i.e. they have used the combination of the 2T2C (talent, technology, capital, cognition) wisely and exploited their favourable geographical position, i.e. close to the Atlantic Ocean.

But 500 years before the great geographical discoveries, there was another similar era. This was when the Vikings reached North America and the Polynesians discovered the Pacific archipelago. According to Valerie Hansen, author of "The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World - and Globalization Began", our current world order most closely resembles the period around 1000 AD. Where knowledge, talent, technology, capital and geography played an equally important role.

This period took place in the Eurasian space, closely linked by trade, technology, culture and economy. The climatic conditions were similar to today's, and the "global warming" of the time led to the agricultural revolution of the Middle Ages, which led to the strengthening of cities (cities along the Silk Road).

It was an era of technological explosion: paper, printing, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, geography, the compass, revolutionising transport. Between East and West, Arab traders carried the most important technological innovations of the age. China was the world's largest producer of goods during this period. With a population of around 100 million at the time, China accounted for about 40 per cent of the world's population. The Chinese produced the world's finest materials, silks and porcelain, and were the first in the world to introduce paper money. They were among the first to publish nautical and astronomical charts.

If you want to understand the development of China today, the Song era is worth studying. The Song Dynasty, which lasted from 969 to 1276, was one of China's most important heydays. Its capital, Hangzhou, was the richest and most populous city in the world, and also the most innovative, and its development was continuous. It was also a period of a multipolar world order. In addition to China, it was also the time of the rise of centres in Southeast Asia, and if we look at the innovation axis of the 11th century, we also find very similar patterns to the innovation axis of the present era, and even the Silk Road routes and the trade routes of the early Middle Ages followed similar geographical patterns. 

New geographic discoveries started in 1996 with the advent of the internet, bringing with it the advance of artificial intelligence. And similarly, nations and regions that are located along the Silk Road, harnessing the power of connectivity, the complexity of the 2T2C model, building on sustainability, seeing the future in the Eurasian space and being on the innovation axis - as they were 1000 years ago - will rise in the future.

The author is a geographer and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Pallas Athene Domus Meriti Foundation and the John von Neumann University Foundation

We use cookies on our website. If you consent to their use, we use them to measure and analyze the use of the website.
Information and Settings