National Curriculum Subject Area/s: History
Length of session: 1 hour
Max group size: 30 pupils


  • Awareness that  from the 1500s onward there was a huge expansion of trade between Europe and the Far East due to the opening up of new sea routes
  • Knowledge and understanding of what was traded, where it came from and what motivated voyages of exploration
  • Knowledge of how trading encouraged cross-cultural contact and enabled the spread of new materials, crafts, technologies, designs, social habits and religion
  • Understanding of how Western society has been influenced by aspects of Far Eastern cultures


The Ashmolean Museum contains a fascinating range of objects which illustrate the explosion of trade across continents following the opening up of trade routes in the Age of Exploration. Students will explore how and why European trade with the Far East expanded from the 1500s onward.

They will handle modern examples of the types of objects Europeans bought and learn about where these products came from. They will consider the wider consequences of trading between West and East.

Students will then work with iPads to select and photograph objects from the collections to create their own virtual drawing room of fashionable objects traded from East to West.

Using a gallery trail, they will explore the ideas and stories behind key objects in more detail.