Where these objects were found
76 The mechanical galleonBrowse all British Museum objects
77 Benin plaque: the oba with Europeans
78 Double-headed serpent
79 Kakiemon elephants
80 Pieces of eight
The First Global Economy AD (1450–1600)
Europe’s expanding maritime empire created the world’s first global economy. Spanish pieces of eight were used as currency from the new world of the Americas to Japan. The Dutch East India Company was a multinational conglomeration transporting goods from the Far East to a European market. Different cultures were brought into contract for the first time with varying results. When Spanish explorers arrived in Mexico it led to the destruction of the Aztec Empire. In contrast, the relationship between the Portuguese and the kingdom of Benin was mutually beneficial, with Portuguese sailors providing much-desired brass in exchange for ivory and palm oil.