Question 26 - Upper Level: Reading Comprehension Practice Test for the ISEE

The attached passage is primarily concerned with ____.

Taken from a lecture by Lynn Nelson about medieval history focused on “The Discovery of the New World and the End of the Old”

\[\begin{array}{} {1} & \;\;\text{Columbus’ voyage of 1492 was intended to discover a shorter all-water} \\ {2} & \;\;\text{route to China and India than the route around Africa that was being} \\ {3} & \;\;\text{ opened up by the Portuguese, and the aim of both was to be able to by-pass} \\ {4} & \;\;\text{the Muslim and Byzantine middle-men through which the spices of the East} \\ {5} & \;\;\text{ reached Western Europe. Although Columbus died still believing that he had} \\ {6} & \;\;\text{opened up the Indies to Spain—which is why Europeans called the native} \\ {7} & \;\;\text{inhabitants of the Americas “Indians”—most realized that a great land mass lay } \\ {8} & \;\;\text{between them and the spices of the East, and also began to realize that there} \\ {9} & \;\;\text{were sources of gold and silver there.} \\ \end{array}\] \[\begin{array}{} {10} & \;\;\text{The natives had amassed a great deal of golden treasure over the centuries,} \\ {11} & \;\;\text{and the first flood of "new" gold into Spain and Europe came as a result of the} \\ {12} & \;\;\text{conquistadores [Spanish for "conquerors”] seizing this accumulation. With} \\ {13} & \;\;\text{the conquest of Peru by Francisco Pizarro, new gold began to be mined;} \\ {14} & \;\;\text{and, with the discovery of the silver veins of San Luis Potosi in Mexico, vast} \\ {15} & \;\;\text{amounts of silver began to appear. The European explorers began to search} \\ {16} & \;\;\text{primarily for gold, for the "Land of El Dorado," a fabled land where,} \\ {17 } & \;\;\text{after the king bathed each morning, his subjects would cover his body with} \\ {18} & \;\;\text{gold dust until he shone like the sun. Since the time of the conquistadores,} \\ {19} & \;\;\text{a series of new sources of gold strikes have been made—bonanzas, from} \\ {20} & \;\;\text{the Spanish word meaning "prosperity"—Colorado, California, South Africa,} \\ {21} & \;\;\text{the Canadian Klondike. Well over 95% of the gold in use today was mined } \\ {22} & \;\;\text{since 1500.} \\ \end{array}\] \[\begin{array}{} {23} & \;\;\text{Gold is like anything else: the more there is of it, the less valuable it is.} \\ {24} & \;\;\text{And so, as gold and silver arrived in Europe from the Americas, the price of} \\ {25} & \;\;\text{everything began to rise steadily. Just to explain why that happened, consider} \\ {26} & \;\;\text{that if a hundred people have one ounce of gold apiece, they all want to buy} \\ {27} & \;\;\text{wheat, and there are only one hundred bushels of wheat for sale, the price of a} \\ {28} & \;\;\text{bushel of wheat will be one ounce of gold. If those same people find a pirate} \\ {29} & \;\;\text{treasure and divide it up so that each of them has two ounces of gold, but} \\ {30} & \;\;\text{there is still only one hundred bushels of wheat for sale, the price of a bushel} \\ {31} & \;\;\text{of wheat will be "two" ounces of gold. You can look at it another way. When} \\ {32} & \;\;\text{the amount of gold (or any other medium of exchange) in circulation increases,} \\ {33} & \;\;\text{the value of salaries, rents, and debts drops. There is a simple equation for all} \\ {34} & \;\;\text{of this:} \\ \end{array}\] \[\begin{array}{} {35} & \;\;\text{Price = the amount of currency divided by the supply of goods} \\ \end{array}\] \[\begin{array}{} {36} & \;\;\text{The steady increase of gold and silver in Europe brought about what historians} \\ {37} & \;\;\text{call "The Price Revolution." People on fixed incomes were impoverished;} \\ {38} & \;\;\text{it became more advantageous to owe money than to be solvent. Money lost} \\ {39} & \;\;\text{value every day it stayed in one's pocket, so the only way to prosper was} \\ {40} & \;\;\text{through trade. Nobles could no longer depend on their income from the rents} \\ {41} & \;\;\text{paid by their tenants, and began to use their lands to raise sheep for wool} \\ {42} & \;\;\text{and meat, or to produce other goods for sale. Land was no longer the basis} \\ {43} & \;\;\text{of wealth, and the land-owners no longer the dominant economic class.} \\ \end{array}\]

Retrieved from: http://www.vlib.us/medieval/lectures/discovery.html

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