NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE... 
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 NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE...

From the New York Times

July 9, 2002
Under Centuries of Sand, a Trading Hub
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

outh of Suez, the Egyptian shore of the Red Sea used to be sprinkled with
ports that throbbed with life and commerce in antiquity, especially the
heyday of the Roman Empire. But long ago, the relentless desert buried their
remains so completely that it was almost beyond imagination that these
places once were pivotal links in a maritime trade route that rivaled the
better-known overland Silk Road.

From here ships ventured down the coast to Ethiopia and Somalia and beyond,
bringing back ivory and tortoise shells, {*filter*} and slaves. Other vessels
headed for the southern shore of Arabia, mainly for frankincense and myrrh.
The biggest ships sailed the monsoons to and from India to satisfy the
bounding appetites in the Mediterranean world for spices, precious stones
and other {*filter*} goods.

So robust was the India trade 2,000 years ago that Emperor Tiberius,
concerned over Rome's increasingly adverse balance of payments, complained
that "the ladies and their baubles are transferring our money to
foreigners."

Perhaps the greatest of these ports in the India trade was Berenike, about
600 miles south of Suez, near Egypt's border with Sudan. Historians knew of
it from written records. Yet nothing remained on the surface at the sere and
forlorn site except some lines of c{*filter*}and scattered potsherds, hardly
sufficient to flesh out the bones of texts into a semblance of the seamen
and merchants in their milieu at Berenike, in prosperity and decline over
eight or nine centuries.

But archaeologists, who in their own way can be as unrelenting as the
desert, have now completed eight years of excavations under harsh conditions
at Berenike and found what they say are the most extensive remains so far
from the ancient world's sea trade between East and West.

Their spades uncovered building ruins, teak and metal from ships, sail
cloth, sapphires and beads, wine and stores of peppercorns. Some of the
goods show that Berenike was trading, at least indirectly, with places as
far away as Thailand and Java. Inscriptions and other written materials in
11 different languages, Greek and Hebrew as well as Latin, Coptic and
Sanskrit, attest to the cosmopolitan mix of people who lived in or passed
through the town.

The co-directors of excavations at Berenike - Dr. Steven E. Sidebotham, a
historian at the University of Delaware, and Dr. Willeke Wendrich, an
archaeologist at the University of California at Los Angeles - said the
research showed that the maritime trade route between India and Egypt in
antiquity appeared to be even more productive and lasted longer than
scholars had thought.

Also, it was not an overwhelmingly Roman enterprise, as had been generally
assumed. The researchers said artifacts at the site indicated that the ships
might have been built in India and were probably crewed by Indians.

"We talk today about globalism as if it were the latest thing, but trade was
going on in antiquity at a scale and scope that is truly impressive," Dr.
Wendrich said.

The two researchers, working under the auspices of Egypt's Supreme Council
on Antiquities, reported their findings in this month's issue of the journal
Sahara. They also described their work in interviews and in a recent article
in Minerva, a British magazine of ancient art and archaeology.

Other archaeologists praised the Berenike discoveries as important
contributions to the history of long-distance trade in the classical world.
Dr. Lionel Casson, an author and a retired professor of classics at New York
University, said, "It's nice to have archaeologists find concrete evidence
for what is attested in the texts."

In the scholarship of early maritime commerce, the Indian Ocean's role has
been eclipsed by the richer body of literary and archaeological evidence for
activity in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. And the Silk Road, an Asian
network of camel caravan routes, is legendary as the primary cultural and
commercial link between China and Europe between about 100 B.C. and the 15th
century.

"The Silk Road gets a lot of attention as a trade route, but we've found a
wealth of evidence indicating that sea trade between Egypt and India was
also important for transporting {*filter*} cargo, and it may have even served as
a link with the Far East," Dr. Sidebotham said.

As developed by Greeks and Egyptians, then expanded by the Romans, the Red
Sea ports served as transfer points for cargoes to and from India and other
places in Africa and Arabia. Goods unloaded at the ports were hauled by
camel train across the desert to the Nile, at Koptos, and carried by boat to
Alexandria. From there they moved by ship to markets throughout the
Mediterranean basin.

The course was reversed for exchange goods, wine and glass and fine
tableware, bound for Indian Ocean markets.

Archaeologists are also investigating the probable sites of two other
Egyptian ports, Myos Hormos and Nechesia.

At some ruins 100 miles north of Berenike, archaeologists led by Dr. John
Seeger of Northern Arizona University, assisted by Dr. Sidebotham, are
excavating a building from the first or second century A.D. It could be part
of Nechesia, but no one can yet be sure.

Dr. David Peacock, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton in
England, is more certain that he and colleagues have, by examining literary
texts and satellite photographs, identified the site of Myos Hormos. It is
200 miles north of Berenike, near the present-day settlement of Quseir.

Excavations there were started in the 1980's by Americans under Dr. Don
Whitcomb of the University of Chicago, and a British team under Dr. Peacock
has worked there for the last four years. The place was definitely an
ancient port, Dr. Peacock said, but it was not until an inscribed piece of
pottery was recently uncovered that he could be sure "beyond reasonable
doubt" that this was indeed Myos Hormos.

Both Myos Hormos and Berenike, also known as Berenice, were established in
the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, in the early third century B.C., when
Egypt was under Greek influence. Berenike was named after the ruler's wife.

Writing in "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt," Dr. Peacock said: "It
appears that Myos Hormos was pre-eminent during the second century B.C. and
that Berenice began to rise in importance during the first century B.C. and
became {*filter*} in the first century A.D. The India trade was thus developed
in Ptolemaic times and the Romans merely took over and perhaps expanded a
well-established concern."

The site of Berenike was rediscovered by European explorers in the early
19th century. But it was so remote from settlements and supplies that
archaeologists shied away, until Dr. Sidebotham and Dr. Wendrich came along
in 1994. Their excavations revealed that Berenike experienced three periods
of prosperity. The first was in the early Ptolemaic times, the third and
second centuries B.C. Then after a century of decline, the port under the
Romans enjoyed its second and greatest boom, in the late first century B.C.
and through the first century A.D.

An enormous Roman rubbish dump, covering some of the Ptolemaic ruins,
yielded a variety of ancient Indian goods, ranging from Indian coconuts and
batik cloth to glass beads and gems. A pot held 16 pounds of peppercorns,
one of the most common commodities. "If you find it in the trash, then the
amount transported through the town must have been mind-boggling," Dr.
Wendrich said.

Dr. Sidebotham and Dr. Wendrich also reported finding a discarded customs
archive, which was written on potsherds reused as a kind of notepaper. This
revealed some of the trade procedures as well as goods.

The archaeologists were especially intrigued by the large amounts of teak, a
hardwood native to India, found in the ruins. They surmised that the teak
arrived as hulls of ships. When ships were damaged beyond repair, the teak
was probably recycled in furniture or building materials. The presence of so
much teak also suggested to the researchers that many of ships were built in
India, one of the indications of a major Indian role in the trade.

But Dr. Casson, a specialist in ancient maritime history, said it was also
possible that the teak timber was shipped to Berenike and turned into
vessels there. Written records refer to ships in the India trade being among
the largest of the time. That means, Dr. Casson said, they could have been
as long as 180 feet and capable of carrying 1,000 tons of cargo. Such ships
had stout hulls and caught the wind with a huge square sail on a stubby
mainmast.

An indispensable source of knowledge of the India trade is found in "The
Periplus Maris Erythraei," the circumnavigation of the Red Sea, a book
written by an anonymous merchant or ship's captain in about the first
century. A recent translation and commentary was prepared by Dr. Casson and
published in 1989 by Princeton University Press.

A practical guide to mariners, the book described the Red Sea ports in their
prime and identified landmarks on the main trade routes. A round trip to
India covered about 3,500 miles. Ships left Egypt in July to take advantage
of strong summer winds out of the north in the Red Sea. Out in the open
ocean, ships were carried by the southwest monsoon, bound for Arabia and
across to India's northwest coast, at the port of Barygaza, or headed
directly across to Muziris on India's southwest coast.

As the periplus author wrote of the southwest winds, "The crossing with
these is hard going but absolutely favorable and shorter."

Returning, the ships usually departed in December or January to catch a
favorable shift in winds. Still, they had to buck the prevailing northerly
winds in the Red Sea. This was the reason the ports were several hundred
miles south of Suez: better the long transfer of goods by camel and Nile
boat than the battle against unceasing Red Sea winds.

The rewards must have more than ...

read more »



Sat, 25 Dec 2004 20:25:52 GMT
 NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE...
What gave you the idea that any of these articles is relevant to
sci.lang?

--
Harlan Messinger
Remove the first dot from my e-mail address.
Veuillez ?ter le premier point de mon adresse de courriel.



Sat, 25 Dec 2004 20:39:21 GMT
 NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE...
singh,

this article was very interesting, and i feel proud reading it.  india
has always had a *VERY* long maritime tradition beginning at least
4,000-5,000 years ago.  there has been found dravidian settlements as
far west as the sumer areas (present day iraq).  it appears, according
to some indo-europeanologists, that the dravidians were exporting
perishable goods to the middle-east, whereas the middle-easterners
were importing non-perishable goods to the indus valley civilization.
finally, the ancient romans realized that the ancient indians were
great soldiers.  as a side, did you know that there is a roman (or
greek?) amphitheatre in tamil nadu?

anyways, this trade came to an end around 1600 AD.  i personally think
that 2 things could have brought it to an end:  (1) bubonic plague and
(2) islamic pillagers trying to put an end to india's commerce like
they're trying to do with america's commerce now.



Sun, 26 Dec 2004 13:11:09 GMT
 NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE...
Interestingly enough, ancient India's name during the Indus Valley
Civilization was "Dalmun"...



Quote:
> singh,

> this article was very interesting, and i feel proud reading it.  india
> has always had a *VERY* long maritime tradition beginning at least
> 4,000-5,000 years ago.  there has been found dravidian settlements as
> far west as the sumer areas (present day iraq).  it appears, according
> to some indo-europeanologists, that the dravidians were exporting
> perishable goods to the middle-east, whereas the middle-easterners
> were importing non-perishable goods to the indus valley civilization.
> finally, the ancient romans realized that the ancient indians were
> great soldiers.  as a side, did you know that there is a roman (or
> greek?) amphitheatre in tamil nadu?

> anyways, this trade came to an end around 1600 AD.  i personally think
> that 2 things could have brought it to an end:  (1) bubonic plague and
> (2) islamic pillagers trying to put an end to india's commerce like
> they're trying to do with america's commerce now.



Sun, 26 Dec 2004 19:21:28 GMT
 NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE...

Quote:

> Interestingly enough, ancient India's name during the Indus Valley
> Civilization was "Dalmun"...

I don't know why you posted this twice, or what its relevance to the NYT
story was, but "Dilmun" was the ancient name of Bahrein, an
island-country in the Persian Gulf.
--



Mon, 27 Dec 2004 00:02:50 GMT
 NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE...



Quote:
> singh,

> this article was very interesting, and i feel proud reading it.  india
> has always had a *VERY* long maritime tradition beginning at least
> 4,000-5,000 years ago.  there has been found dravidian settlements as
> far west as the sumer areas (present day iraq).  it appears, according
> to some indo-europeanologists, that the dravidians were exporting
> perishable goods to the middle-east, whereas the middle-easterners
> were importing non-perishable goods to the indus valley civilization.
> finally, the ancient romans realized that the ancient indians were
> great soldiers.  as a side, did you know that there is a roman (or
> greek?) amphitheatre in tamil nadu?

> anyways, this trade came to an end around 1600 AD.  i personally think
> that 2 things could have brought it to an end:  (1) bubonic plague and
> (2) islamic pillagers trying to put an end to india's commerce like
> they're trying to do with america's commerce now.

well the trade slowed around 600 A.d.  this would correspond not to Islam
but the huns who invaded...although the huns were defeated the constant wave
of attacks did not allow India to raise one great army to keep the Indian
kingdom together...this made India into a land of warring states, this
allowed the muslims entry...Indian trade again picked up during Mughal
rule...but that was for only a couple of hundred years, during the reign of
Shah Jahan India actually defeated teh British as well... thanks to that
mullah Aurangzeb, Hindu rulers revolted breaking up India once more, making
India ripe for the taking by the British...

United India was never defeated by any country or invader...when we fight
amongst one another we all lose, big time!



Mon, 27 Dec 2004 02:45:12 GMT
 NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE...
who cares about bahrain.?..Dalmun was ancient India's name when Egypt,
China, Sumer and India were the only civilizations worth anything on
earth...of those only India and China have preserved their civilizations...



Quote:

> > Interestingly enough, ancient India's name during the Indus Valley
> > Civilization was "Dalmun"...

> I don't know why you posted this twice, or what its relevance to the NYT
> story was, but "Dilmun" was the ancient name of Bahrein, an
> island-country in the Persian Gulf.
> --




Mon, 27 Dec 2004 02:49:22 GMT
 NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE...

Quote:



>> singh,

>> this article was very interesting, and i feel proud reading it.  india
>> has always had a *VERY* long maritime tradition beginning at least
>> 4,000-5,000 years ago.  there has been found dravidian settlements as
>> far west as the sumer areas (present day iraq).  it appears, according
>> to some indo-europeanologists, that the dravidians were exporting
>> perishable goods to the middle-east, whereas the middle-easterners
>> were importing non-perishable goods to the indus valley civilization.
>> finally, the ancient romans realized that the ancient indians were
>> great soldiers.  as a side, did you know that there is a roman (or
>> greek?) amphitheatre in tamil nadu?

>> anyways, this trade came to an end around 1600 AD.  i personally think
>> that 2 things could have brought it to an end:  (1) bubonic plague and
>> (2) islamic pillagers trying to put an end to india's commerce like
>> they're trying to do with america's commerce now.

>well the trade slowed around 600 A.d.  this would correspond not to Islam
>but the huns who invaded...

It also corresponded to a period of world wide drought and famine,
which no doubt explains the huns as well.

Quote:
> ... although the huns were defeated the constant wave
>of attacks did not allow India to raise one great army to keep the Indian
>kingdom together...this made India into a land of warring states, this
>allowed the muslims entry...Indian trade again picked up during Mughal
>rule...but that was for only a couple of hundred years, during the reign of
>Shah Jahan India actually defeated teh British as well... thanks to that
>mullah Aurangzeb, Hindu rulers revolted breaking up India once more, making
>India ripe for the taking by the British...

>United India was never defeated by any country or invader...when we fight
>amongst one another we all lose, big time!

Eric Stevens


Mon, 27 Dec 2004 04:08:14 GMT
 NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE...


Quote:



> >> singh,

> >> this article was very interesting, and i feel proud reading it.  india
> >> has always had a *VERY* long maritime tradition beginning at least
> >> 4,000-5,000 years ago.  there has been found dravidian settlements as
> >> far west as the sumer areas (present day iraq).  it appears, according
> >> to some indo-europeanologists, that the dravidians were exporting
> >> perishable goods to the middle-east, whereas the middle-easterners
> >> were importing non-perishable goods to the indus valley civilization.
> >> finally, the ancient romans realized that the ancient indians were
> >> great soldiers.  as a side, did you know that there is a roman (or
> >> greek?) amphitheatre in tamil nadu?

> >> anyways, this trade came to an end around 1600 AD.  i personally think
> >> that 2 things could have brought it to an end:  (1) bubonic plague and
> >> (2) islamic pillagers trying to put an end to india's commerce like
> >> they're trying to do with america's commerce now.

> >well the trade slowed around 600 A.d.  this would correspond not to Islam
> >but the huns who invaded...

> It also corresponded to a period of world wide drought and famine,
> which no doubt explains the huns as well.

You mean the Huns ate and drank everything until there was drought and
famine!


Mon, 27 Dec 2004 08:57:21 GMT
 NYT:ANCIENT INDIA DOMINATED WORLD TRADE...
singh,

how do we know that the name of the IVC was "dalmun"?  who knew
writing back then?  or was it really called "dalmun nadu"? :)

Quote:
> Interestingly enough, ancient India's name during the Indus Valley
> Civilization was "Dalmun"...



Mon, 27 Dec 2004 09:05:38 GMT
 
 [ 10 post ] 

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