Primary sources:

  • Garcilaso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries of Peru

    Garcilaso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries of Peru

    Garcilaso de la Vega, the first native of the New World to attain importance as a writer in the Old, was born in Cuzco in 1539, the illegitimate son of a Spanish cavalier and an Inca princess. Although he was educated as a gentleman of Spain and won an important place in Spanish letters, Garcilaso was fiercely proud of his Indian ancestry and wrote under the name EI Inca. Read More
  • Cracking the Mayan code

    Cracking the Mayan code

    The Mayan script, also known as Mayan glyphs or Mayan hieroglyphs, is the writing system of the Maya civilization of Mesoamerica, currently the only Mesoamerican writing system that has been substantially deciphered. The earliest inscriptions found which are identifiably Maya date to the 3rd century BCE in San Bartolo, Guatemala. Maya writing was in continuous use throughout Mesoamerica until the Spanish conquest of the Maya in the 16th and 17th centuries. Read More
  • Aztec codices

    Aztec codices

    Aztec codices are books written by pre-Columbian and colonial-era Aztecs. These codices provide some of the best primary sources for Aztec culture. The pre-Columbian codices mostly do not in fact use the codex form (that of a modern paperback) and are, or originally were, long folded sheets. They also differ from European books in that they mostly consist of images and pictograms; they were not meant to symbolize spoken or written narratives. Read More
  • Maya codices

    Maya codices

    Maya codice sare folding books stemming from the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, written in Maya hieroglyphic script on Mesoamerican bark cloth, made from the inner bark of certain trees, the main being the wild fig tree or amate. The codices have been named for the cities where they eventually settled. The Dresden codex is generally considered the most important of the few that survive. Read More
  • Guaman Poma

    Guaman Poma

    Felipe Huaman Poma de Ayala, 1535– 1616, was a Quechua nobleman known for chronicling and denouncing the ill treatment of the natives of the Andes by the Spanish after their conquest. Today, Guaman Poma is noted for his illustrated chronicle, Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno. Read More
  • Edward Kingsborough, Antiquities of Mexico, 1831

    Edward Kingsborough, Antiquities of Mexico, 1831

    Edward King, Viscount Kingsborough, was an Irish antiquarian who sought to prove that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were a Lost Tribe of Israel. His principal contribution was in making available facsimiles of ancient documents and some of the earliest explorers' reports on Pre-Columbian ruins and Maya civilisation. Several of these volumes are available at Internet Archive. Read More
  • American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Artifacts

    American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Artifacts

    Felipe Huaman Poma de Ayala, 1535– 1616, was a Quechua nobleman known for chronicling and denouncing the ill treatment of the natives of the Andes by the Spanish after their conquest. Today, Guaman Poma is noted for his illustrated chronicle, Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno. Read More
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  • How and why did the Europeans come to take over the world?
  • How did the colonized peoples make themselves independent?
  • What were the logn-term effects of colonialization?

Required reading:


  • What was the Mau-mau uprising?
  • Who was Henry Morton Stanley? Presentation by hilip Norrman.
  • How does William Robruck describe the emperor’s palace? How did Coleridge describe it? Read this. Presentation byNoemibernadette Zampetti.

Additional resources:


  • Why and how did the Mongols come to create an empire which spanned most of the Eurasian continent? What made the Mongols militarily successful?
  • How was Mongol diplomacy conducted?
  • Why did the Mongol empire eventually decline and fall?
  • “Nomadic political theory“: tactics in war. principles of social organization, the role of paths and nodes.

Required readings:

  • Erik Ringmar,”The Mongol Khanates,” History of International Relations (Cambridge: Open Books Publisher, forthcoming)
  • Starr, S. Frederick. “The Mongol Century.” In Lost Enlightenment : Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, 436–37. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.
  • Schurmann, H. F. “Mongolian ​Tributary Practices of the Thirteenth Century.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 19, no. 3/4 (December 1956): 304-89.


​Additional resources:


  • Which kinds of political entities have traditionally existed in Africa?
  • Which were the relations between them?
  • To what extent, if any, can Africa be described as “an international system”?



West Africa:

Mongol primary sources:

  • Secret history of the Mongols

    Secret history of the Mongols

    The Secret History of the Mongols was written for the Mongol royal family some time after Genghis Khan's death by an anonymous author and probably originally in the Uyghur script, though the surviving texts all derive from transcriptions or translations into Chinese characters dating from the end of the 14th century. This is a new open source translation made by Igor de Rachewiltz in 2015. Read More
  • Altan Tobchi

    Altan Tobchi

    The Altan Tobchi, or Golden Summary, is a 17th-century Mongolian chronicle. It is generally considered second in dignity to the Secret History of the Mongols as a historical chronicle and piece of classical literature. It is a major source of knowledge on the "Chingisiin Bilig" or Wisdom of Genghis, a code of ethical conduct specifically directed toward future generations of Mongolian ruling nobility. Read More
  • Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh

    Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh "Compendium of Chronicles"

    The Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh "Compendium of Chronicles" was commissioned by Ghazan and initially was a history of the Mongols and their dynasty, but gradually expanded to include the entire history since the time of Adam to Rashid al-Din's time. Read More
  • Juvaini, The History of the World Conqueror

    Juvaini, The History of the World Conqueror

    Atâ-Malek Juvayni, 1226–1283, was a Persian historian who wrote an account of the Mongol Empire, History of the World Conqueror. Juvayni visited the Mongol capital of Karakorum twice, beginning his history of the Mongols conquests on one such visit . He was with Ilkhan Hulagu in 1256 at the taking of Alamut and was responsible for saving part of its celebrated library. He had also accompanied Hulagu during the sack of Baghdad in 1258. Read More
  • The Mulfuzat Timury

    The Mulfuzat Timury

    The Malfuzat-i Timurī is supposedly Timur's own autobiography, but almost certainly a 17th century fabrication.The scholar Abu Taleb Hosayni presented the texts to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, a distant descendant of Timur, in 1637–38, supposedly after discovering the Chagatai language originals in the library of a Yemeni ruler. Even as a fake, the story is still interesting. Read More
  • G. Mend-Ooyo

    G. Mend-Ooyo

    G.Mend-Ooyo was born on the open steppe of Dariganga, in the eastern part of Mongolia, and grew up herding livestock and riding swift horses. He is a writer who is deeply connected with his roots in nomadic culture, and his work shows a profound spiritual respect for the earth and for the natural world, and an unbroken link with nomadic life, with the peaceful steppe of his homeland, and with the tradition of Mongolian wisdom. Read More
  • British Library, Mongolian Collection

    British Library, Mongolian Collection

    The Mongolian collections at the British Library comprise several thousand items, including around ninety rare woodblock prints of Buddhist sutras and religious works. Read More
  • Manchu archery Read More
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Secodary sources:

European travelers, explorers and adventurers

  • Sven Hedin, Adventures in Tibet

    Sven Hedin, Adventures in Tibet

    The favourable reception accorded to my book, Central Asia and Tibet, has emboldened me to prepare a cheaper and more popular edition. This, although of course based upon the longer work, has been entirely re-written from beginning to end specially for the present issue. The halo of romance and the magic of the unknown which have for so long drawn the adventurous as by a magnet to the mysterious land of Tibet have now been Read More
  • Sven Hedin, The Silk Road

    Sven Hedin, The Silk Road

    This vivid book reflects that exciting expedition ¬ the constant mishaps, serious accidents and dangers; the immensity of China; the divergent ethnic groups; the ambitious generals; and the brigands. Read More
  • Sven Hedin, Overland to India

    Sven Hedin, Overland to India

    The very name of India is alone sufficient to fire the imagination of the reader. He fancies he hears the murmur Of warm winds among the palms and mango trees, and thinks Of the teeming life and the continual struggle for existence in tropical jungles. He seems to see the brilliant trains of Indian princes, swarming crowds of dusky Hindus, grand troops of elephants, tigers trying to escape from the bloodthirsty hunters, gilded pagodas, and Read More
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