Lead: As Christopher Columbus entered his 30s, his experience and training, education and contacts, had awakened a gnawing intuition that he could reach Japan by sailing west. 

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts. 

                Content: The European fascination with all things Asian emerged in the Medieval period. Soon trade between west and east was brisk and lucrative. Spices for food preservation, art and furniture objects, silk for clothing and tea for consumption, were just a few of the things demanded by wealthy Europeans and even a growing number of urban middle class consumers. The problem: Arabs dominated oriental trade. Gold and silver could not pass east ward, goods could not come back west save through the expensive monopolistic trading system of Muslim merchants and their partners in the Italian maritime city states such as Venice.

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