After almost fifteen years of intensive work, UNESCO presents an entirely revised and updated edition of this major work in seven volumes. The new edition, now called History of Humanity, is a radical new work providing an account of cultural and scientific achievements in the light of new facts and methods of historiographical investigation. This major undertaking required an International Commission and the co-operation of some 450 distinguished specialists, in a great number of disciplines, from all over the world. A truly interdisciplinary work, the History of Humanity sheds new light on many hitherto unknown features of our common past.
Volume IV deals with the period commonly known as the 'Middle Ages'. It starts with the expansion of Islam and closes with the discovery of the New World. Various events during this period led to a significant expansion in communications: the rapid spread of Islam and of Genghis Khan's Mongol Empire, as well as the Crusades and the development of trans-Saharan and maritime routes around Africa to the Indian Ocean. This multiplied exchanges between the peoples and cultures of Africa, Asia and Europe.