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Encyclopedia > Indian maritime history

India has had a maritime history dating back around 5,000 years. During the Indus Valley Civilization, ships from the harbour at the ancient port city of Lothal established trade with Mesopotamia. After the decline of the Indus civilization however, maritime trade on the Indian subcontinent came to an end for over 1000 years. The impetus to later re-develop maritime links was trade (primarily in cotton, pepper and other spices), due to the monopoly of the Persians and later the Arabs over land-based caravan routes. The later maritime journeys spread the influence of ancient and medieval Indian civilisation as far as the islands of Indonesia to the east, the islands of Japan to the north, and the east coast of Africa to the west. The Indus Valley Civilization existed along the Indus River and the Hakra-Ghaggar river and their tributaries. ... Archeological site Lothal harbour Lothal was a city of the Indus Valley Civilization situated 450 miles South-East of Mohenjo Daro. ... Sumerian list of gods in cuneiform script, ca. ... Composite satellite image of the Indian subcontinent Map of South Asia. ... The Persians of Iran (officially named Persia by West until 1935 while still referred to as Persia by some) are an Iranian people who speak Persian (locally named Fârsi by native speakers) and often refer to themselves as ethnic Iranians as well. ... -1... Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. ...

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Alexander

During the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great shipped the bulk of his army from North Western India (Patala or Xylinepolis) to Egypt via the Indian Ocean led by his friend, Nearchus who also wrote the book, Indikê about the voyage. This was after he sailed down the Indus. Alexander the Great fighting Persian king Darius (not in frame) (Pompeii mosaic, from a 3rd century BC original Greek painting, now lost). ... The Indus is a river; the Indus River. ...


Mauryan Empire

The earliest known reference to an organization devoted to ships in ancient India is to the Mauryan Empire from the 4th century BC. Emperor Chandragupta Maurya's Prime Minister Kautilya's Arthashastra devotes a full chapter on the state department of waterways under navadhyaksha (Sanskrit for Superintendent of ships) [1]. The term, nava dvipantaragamanam (Sanskrit for sailing to other lands by ships) appears in this book in addition to appearing in the Buddhist text, Baudhayana Dharmasastra as the interpretation of the term, Samudrasamyanam. The Mauryan empire (321 to 185 BCE), at its largest extent around 230 BCE. The Mauryan Empire was Indias first great unified empire. ... Chandragupta Maurya (ruled 322–298 BC), also known as Sandrokottos to the Greeks, was the founder of the first the Mauryan Empire. ... Chanakya (c. ... Arthashastra (also spelt Arthasastra) or the Handbook of Profit is an ancient Indian treatise on economics and politics written sometime between the 4th century BC and 150 AD by the kingmaker Chanakya (also known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta) during the early years of the Mauryan Empire. ... Sanskrit ( संस्कृतम्) is a classical language of India and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. ... A superintendent is an individual that has executive oversight and administration rights, usually within an educational entity or organization. ...


References in Bible

One of the earliest references to maritime trade with India is from the Bible (I Kings 9:28) which states that King Solomon collaborated with King Hiram of Tyre/Sidon, and built a fleet at Elath and Eziongeher (or Ezion-geber). Manned by Phoenician sailors, it sailed to Ophir (also spelt as Qphir) and brought back many treasures which two kings shared between themselves. The precise location of the port of Ophir is another unsettled topic. Dutch/German Indologist Professor Christian Lassen hoped to close the controversy in the 19th century by identifying it with Abhira in the province of Gujarat in India [2]. The Bible (sometimes The Book, Good Book, Word of God, The Word, or Scripture), from Greek (τα) βιβλια, (ta) biblia, (the) books, is the classical name for the Hebrew Bible of Judaism or the combination of the Old Testament and New Testament of Christianity (The Bible actually refers to at least two... Ophir (Hebrew אוֹפִיר, Standard Hebrew Ofir, Tiberian Hebrew ʾÔp̄îr) is a port or region mentioned in the Bible that was famous for its wealth. ... Gujarat (Gu: , De: ; , IPA ; also spelled Gujrat and sometimes (incorrectly) Gujarath) contained many of the former Princely states of India, and is the most industrialized state in India after Maharashtra. ...


House of Ptolemy

Around 116 BC an interesting incident that had happened in Egypt was reported by Posidonius (ca. 135 BC - 51 BC (also spelled Poseidonius), and later recorded by Strabo. We are told that a shipwrecked Indian sailor was discovered, half-dead, by coast guards on the Red Sea, and was brought to the Egyptian King Physkon (also known as Physcon or Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II) during 118 BC. The sailor said he was the sole survivor of a ship that had sailed from India. The sailor promised to guide any of the King’s navigators on a voyage to India. So a Greek sailor, Eudoxus of Kyzicus (himself an envoy from Greece to Ptolemy VIII), was appointed to that mission. Centuries: 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - 1st century BC Decades: 160s BC 150s BC 140s BC 130s BC 120s BC - 110s BC - 100s BC 90s BC 80s BC 70s BC 60s BC Years: 121 BC 120 BC 119 BC 118 BC 117 BC - 116 BC - 115 BC 114 BC... The bust of Posidonius as an older man depects his character as a Stoic philosopher. ... Centuries: 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - 1st century BC Decades: 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC 140s BC - 130s BC - 120s BC 110s BC 100s BC 90s BC 80s BC Years: 140 BC 139 BC 138 BC 137 BC 136 BC - 135 BC - 134 BC 133 BC... Centuries: 2nd century BC - 1st century BC - 1st century Decades: 100s BC 90s BC 80s BC 70s BC 60s BC - 50s BC - 40s BC 30s BC 20s BC 10s BC 0s BC Years: 56 BC 55 BC 54 BC 53 BC 52 BC 51 BC 50 BC 49 BC 48... Strabo (squinty) was a term employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or deformed. ... Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Ptolemaios VIII Euergetes II) (c. ... Centuries: 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - 1st century BC Decades: 160s BC 150s BC 140s BC 130s BC 120s BC - 110s BC - 100s BC 90s BC 80s BC 70s BC 60s BC Years: 123 BC 122 BC 121 BC 120 BC 119 BC - 118 BC - 117 BC 116 BC...


Poseidonius recounted two direct journeys to India. The first in 118 BC, guided by the Indian sailor, proved successful. From Berenice Harbor to Muziris below Calicut took 70 days. Eudoxus returned with a cargo of aromatics and precious stones. Ptolemy VIII promptly confiscated the cargo. Centuries: 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - 1st century BC Decades: 160s BC 150s BC 140s BC 130s BC 120s BC - 110s BC - 100s BC 90s BC 80s BC 70s BC 60s BC Years: 123 BC 122 BC 121 BC 120 BC 119 BC - 118 BC - 117 BC 116 BC... Cranganore (modern day Kodungallur) and known in ancient times as Shinkli, Muchiri (anglicised to Muziris), Muyirikkodu, Muchiripattinam was a famous and prosperous sea-port at the mouth of the Periyar (also known as Choorni Nadi) river in the southern Indian state of Kerala. ... Kozhikode, also known as Calicut, is the third largest city (pop. ...


The second, under the sole guidance of Eudoxus, occurred in 116 BC, just after the death of Ptolemy VIII and during the reign of Cleopatra III, his wife and queen.


A position titled, Commander of the Red and Indian Seas, came into being under Ptolemy XII, also nicknamed Auletes (80-51 BC) to encourage trade with India [3]. The best known occupant of this office was a gentleman named, Callimachus the epistrategos, who was the Commander between July 78 BC and February 51 BC [4]. Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos Theos Philopator Theos Philadelphos (117 BCE - 51 BCE) was son of Ptolemy IX Soter II. His mother is unknown. ... For other uses, see number 78. ... Events Caratacus, British resistance leader, is captured and taken to Rome. ...


Roman connection

Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar in 26 BC commissioned his prefect in Egypt, Aelius Gallus, to capture the port of Aden to attack the Ethiopians who controlled the trade from India. This was after the death of Cleopatra in 30 B.C. Although Augustus was unsuccesful in capturing Arabia Felix (present day Yemen), the Romans opened sea routes to India through the Red Sea, where they could buy Chinese silk, bypassing war-torn areas and diminishing the role of Persians and Arabs who previously dominated the trade. Greek writer, Nicolaus of Damascus records an Indian delegation from Pandion (Pandyan?) visited Emperor Augustus in 13 BC at Antioch [5]. For other uses, see Roman Empire (disambiguation) The Roman Empire is the term conventionally used to describe the Ancient Roman polity in the centuries following its reorganization under the leadership of Octavian (better known as Augustus), until its radical reformation in what was later to be known as the Byzantine... The famous statue of Octavian at the Prima Porta Caesar Augustus (Latin:IMP·CAESAR·DIVI·F·AVGVSTVS) ¹ (23 September 63 BC–19 August AD 14), known to modern historians as Octavian for the period of his life prior to 27 BC, is considered the first and one of the most... The oil refinery and Tanker port of Little Aden were operated by British Petroleum (now Beyond Petroleum) It was the capital of the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen until that countrys unification with the Yemen Arab Republic when it was declared a free trade zone. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... The Republic of Yemen is a country in the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia, and is a part of the Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Red Sea, between Oman and Saudi Arabia. ... Location of the Red Sea The Red Sea (Arabic البحر الأحمر Baḥr al-Aḥmar, al-Baḥru l-’Aḥmar; Hebrew ים סוף Yam Suf; Tigrigna ቀይሕ ባሕሪ QeyH baHri) is a gulf or basin of the Indian Ocean between Africa and Asia. ... Nicolaus of Damascus (Nikolāos DamaskÄ“nos) was a Greek historical and philosophical writer who lived in the Augustan Age. ... Centuries: 2nd century BC - 1st century BC - 1st century Decades: 60s BC 50s BC 40s BC 30s BC 20s BC - 10s BC - 0s 10s 20s 30s 40s Years: 18 BC 17 BC 16 BC 15 BC 14 BC 13 BC 12 BC 11 BC 10 BC 9 BC 8 BC... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ...


Pliny complained that the Indian luxury trade was depleting the Roman treasury to the extent of 50 million sesterces annually [6]. The Roman Senate even contemplated banning the use of Indian cotton in the clothing, Toga that Roman citizens wore, because it was so expensive to import. Roman clad in toga The toga was the distinctive garb of Ancient Rome. ...


The Periplus Maris Erythraei ("Circumnavigation of the Erythrean [i.e., Red] Sea"), by an unknown author presumed to be a Greek merchant, written in the 1st century AD, lists a series of ports along the Indian coast, including Muziris (Cranganore), Colchi (Korkai), Poduca, and Sopatma. It also records the accomplishment of Hippalus, who having determined the patterns of the Indian monsoons, discovered a sea-route from the Red Sea to Southern India. The book also references the port of Kodungallur (anglicised to Cranganore, and also known as Muziris or Shinkli), in present day Kerala on India's West coast. Pliny refers to this port as primum emporium Indiae. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (Periplus Maris Erythraei ) is a Greek periplus, describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports like Berenice along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along East Africa and India. ... Hippalus was a Greek navigator who probably lived in the 1st century BCE. He is sometimes conjectured to have been the captain of the Greek explorer Eudoxus of Cyzicus ship. ... For the band Monsoon see Sheila Chandra Monsoon in the Vindhya, a mountain chain in central India A monsoon is a periodic wind, especially in the Indian Ocean and southern Asia. ... Cranganore (modern day Kodungallur) and known in ancient times as Shinkli, Muchiri (anglicised to Muziris), Muyirikkodu, Muchiripattinam was a famous and prosperous sea-port at the mouth of the Periyar (also known as Choorni Nadi) river in the southern Indian state of Kerala. ... Categories: | | ...


Journeys to the East and later centuries

Amaury De Reincourt in his book, Soul Of India, records that "The brightest sun shining over Southeast Asia in the first centuries A.D. was Indian Civilization." [7] This maritime expertise helped disperse the Indian civilisation as far as the islands of Indonesia, Java and Sumatra. Map of Java Java (Indonesian, Javanese, and Sundanese: Jawa) is an island of Indonesia, and the site of its capital city, Jakarta. ... Sumatra (also spelled Sumatara and Sumatera) is the sixth largest island of the world (approximately 470,000 km²) and is the largest part of Indonesia. ...


Travels of the Friar Odoric between 1316-1330 AD mention trips between the Persian Gulf, and the West coast of India. Odoric of Pordenone (c. ... Map of the Persian Gulf. ...


Finally, the advent of Portuguese sailor, Vasco Da Gama in 1496 opened up the trade routes to India to the Europeans. As a result of the Battle of Swally, the Portuguese monopoly began to crumble and the rise of the British East India Company began. Vasco da Gama Vasco da Gama Vasco da Gama (IPA: /; born c. ... 1496 was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... The naval Battle of Swally took place on 29-30 November 1612 off the coast of Suvali (anglicised to Swally), a village near the city of Surat, Gujarat, India, and was a victory for four British East India Company ships over four Portuguese galleons and 26 frigates (rowing vessels with... The British East India Company, sometimes referred to as John Company, was a joint-stock company of investors, which was granted a Royal Charter by Elizabeth I on December 31, 1600, with the intent to favour trade privileges in India. ...


Additional Reading

  • Mookerji, Radha Kumud. Indian Shipping - A History of the Sea-Borne Trade and Marine Activity of The Indians From The Earliest Times, Bombay : Longmans, Green and Co., 1962. 283 pgs. (Originally published by Calcutta: Orient Longmans, 1912). ISBN 8121509165
  • Habib, Muhammad. Kitab al-muhabbar, ed. Ilse Lichtenstädter. Hyderabad, 1361/1942.
  • De Riencourt, Amaury. The Soul of India, Hyperion Books, 1990, 432 pgs. ISBN 0907855032

References

  • ^  Kautilya. Arthashastra, Bk. II, Ch. 28.
  • ^  Christian Lassen, Indische Altertumskunde (1847-1861)
  • ^  Bevan, E.R. The House of Ptolemy,London: Methuen Publishing, 1927, Ch. XIII
  • ^  Sammelbuch, 8036, Coptos (variously dated 110/109 BC or 74/3 BC; and no. 2264 (78 BC); Inscriptions Philae, 52 (62 BC).
  • ^  Woodcock, George. The Greeks in India, London: Faber & Faber, 1966, p. 23
  • ^  Strabo, xv. 1, on the immolation of the Sramana in Athens (Para. 73)
  • ^  Pliny. Natural History, 6.96-111
  • ^  De Riencourt, Amaury. The Soul of India, p.158-162

Christian Lassen (October 22, 1800 _ May 8, 1876) was a German orientalist. ... Strabo (squinty) was a term employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or deformed. ... There are two famous persons named Pliny: Pliny the Elder, a Roman nobleman, scientist and historian who died in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD The great-nephew of the former, Pliny the Younger, a statesman, orator, and writer who lived between 62 AD and 113 AD. This...

See also

Cranganore (modern day Kodungallur) and known in ancient times as Shinkli, Muchiri (anglicised to Muziris), Muyirikkodu, Muchiripattinam was a famous and prosperous sea-port at the mouth of the Periyar (also known as Choorni Nadi) river in the southern Indian state of Kerala. ...

 
 

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