Asian Influences on Western Civilization
Sarah Swift, Librarian, and John Baron, Social Studies and Language Arts Teacher
Burgess Elementary School, Sturbridge, Massachusetts


East is West and West is East

A profound network of inter-connections is woven into the Eurasian fabric. This website examines several of the extensive ways in which cultures, history, religions and trade have impacted East and West from earliest times.

Globalism is not a new phenomenon, but history is often taught in conveniently packaged regional units, ignoring the fact that today and in the past, events in one part of the world influence other parts of the planet. Archaeology shows that humans have been in contact and influenced each other’s cultures since ancient times. It is very important that we make our students aware of this. This website is designed for use by middle school teachers and students, although it contains resources for both older and younger audiences.

Included on this page is a PowerPoint demonstration designed for a 6th grade ancient history class showing basic contact between the Eastern and Western worlds of ancient times. A key exponent of the concept of ancient globalization is the biogeographer Jared Diamond, whose book Guns, Germs, and Steel attempts to explain 19th and 20th century civilization as the result of changes that took place in the world shortly after the end of the last Ice Age. Diamond’s point of view, that environmental history greatly impacted technology and culture in world history, is reflected in this brief presentation.

We are grateful to Professors Todd Lewis and Leonard van der Kuijp, co-directors of this Institute, and to the National Endowment for the Humanities for offering the scholarship behind our work. The teachings, readings and discussions have led us to the conviction that the study of global history and culture is of the profoundest importance for students of all ages, everwhere.

Click Here for Slide Show


This site was created by Sarah Swift and John Baron at the NEH Summer Institute "Cultures and Religions of the Himalayan Region," held at the College of the Holy Cross, Summer 2006