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date: 21 February 2019

Maritime Archaeology of the Indian Ocean

Summary and Keywords

The interface between the sea and the land and the communities that have historically traversed the Indian Ocean form the focus of this article. Maritime communities have been sustained by a variety of occupations associated with the sea, such as fishing and harvesting other marine resources, pearling, salt making, sailing, trade, shipbuilding, piracy, and more. The communities of the sea negotiate land-based issues through a variety of strategies, which are evident in the archaeological record. Fishing as an adaptation dates to the prehistoric period, and fish remains have been found in abundance at several coastal prosites dating from the 5th millennium bce. In eastern Saudi Arabia, for example, they constitute 85 percent of the total faunal inventory at some sites.

A significant factor facilitating the integrative potential of these communities was their large cargo-carrying vessels, which not only facilitated transformation of the local settlements into centers of commerce and production, but also linked the local groups into regional and trans-regional networks. Underwater archaeology has contributed to an understanding of the boat-building traditions of the Indian Ocean, further supplemented by ethnographic studies of contemporary boat-building communities.

Monumental architecture along the coasts served dual functions. Not only did they provide spaces for the interaction of inland routes with those across the ocean, but the structures themselves were also used as major orientation points by watercraft while approaching land. The larger issue addressed underscores the need to include coastal structures such as wharfs, forts, shrines, and archaeological sites as a part of the maritime heritage and to aid in their preservation for posterity.

Keywords: fishing, sailing, shipwrecks, cultural routes, Greek, Buddhism, Islam, heritage

Maritime Archaeology: Beginnings

Maritime archaeology is a recent discipline within archaeology and owes its beginnings in large part to the development of self-contained breathing apparatus and other equipment during the world wars. These facilitated the discovery of submerged and buried objects such as structures, shipwrecks, anchors, port installation remains, and so on. Keith Muckelroy, a pioneer in the field, provided one of the early definitions of the discipline when he stated that maritime archaeology was a sub-discipline of archaeology and that its principles, theories, and methods should be based on those accepted for conventional archaeology.1 Maritime archaeology examines human interaction with the sea by looking at material remains and cultural landscapes. A similar discipline to maritime archaeology is underwater archaeology, which studies the past by specifically looking at submerged material remains, such as shipwrecks. In 1973, the first Institute of Maritime Archaeology was established at St. Andrews University in the United Kingdom. Around the same time, steps were taken to provide legal recognition of problems posed by the emerging field, starting with the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

The Indian Ocean presented a unique environment for a sailor in antiquity. The monsoon winds not only determined the basic rhythm for seafaring activity across much of tropical and equatorial Asia, but also influenced agricultural activity in the region.

One way of understanding this complex web of interactions of the past is through a deep engagement with markers of maritime regions and the communities that inhabited these spaces. The indicators include archaeological artifacts (as evidence of ancient settlements and routes), architectural edifices and their networks of interaction, and, of course, continuing boat-building traditions and shipwreck sites.

Fishing and Sailing Communities

Fishing and sailing communities formed a distinct group and were the crucial component of all sea travel. Fishing was the traditional occupation of coastal groups in several pockets of the Indian Ocean, and this is an adaptation that dates to at least the 5th millennium bce in several areas.2 Archaeological excavations conducted by the University of Delaware–Leiden University/UCLA consortium at the site of Berenike on the Red Sea coast between 1994 and 2001, and briefly in 2009 and 2010, have been valuable in providing an archaeological perspective to seafaring activity in the region. They have introduced discussions on fishing, botanical remains, basketry, textiles, ostraka, and papyri into academic discourse on seafaring in the Indian Ocean. It is also evident that significant insights are possible regarding the changing nature of a site and its multiethnic and multicultural society. For example, the excavations have produced many instances of fishing gear, a total of 134 fishhooks, and abundant fish remains, not surprisingly of sea fish, with a concentration in the period from 1st century bce to 1st century ce. From late Roman times, however, almost no nets have been recovered, suggesting a reliance on other fishing techniques, a shift in focus from the sea to the desert (which has also been suggested on the basis of other evidence), and/or that the nature of the deposit was not sea-related.3

A wide range of fish species are present at archaeological sites along the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). An analysis of the fish remains from archaeological sites in the UAE shows that during the earliest period, namely the 5th and 4th millennium bce, fishing appears to have been carried out in both shallow inshore waters and lagoons, and also on coral reefs and open waters. First millennium bce assemblages demonstrate that a wide variety of fish were already being traded to the interior of southeast Arabia from the coastal regions. By the 1st to 4th century ce, sites such as ed-Dur, located east of the Umm al-Qaiwain lagoon, appears to have functioned as an important trading harbor as well as a focus for settlement and religious activities.4 At the other end of the Indian Ocean, Khok Phanom Di, a site on the Bang Pakong River in central Thailand, was occupied between 2000 and 1500 bce.5 The coastal site contains a cemetery and evidence of fishing, shell harvesting, and shell-jewelry production, with some evidence of rice cultivation, including possible farming tools made out of shell.

Recent research on the prehistoric movements of plants and animals across the Indian Ocean has underscored the contributions of small-scale groups as a major focus of cultural history and as agents for the exchange of native crops and stock between Africa and India.6 Archaeological evidence for these translocated crop plants dates to at least the 3rd millennium bce and draws on historical linguistics, most notably relating to tree crops and boat technology, with a growing contribution from genetic studies of animals, including domesticated and commensal species. There is a growing body of literature on the origin of major crops of peninsular India, such as sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) and finger millet (Eleusine coracana) in Africa and their presence at sites in India in the 2nd millennium bce.7 It is suggested that these contacts were systematic and frequent, rather than being occasional and peripheral.8

These coastal communities adopted numerous occupations associated with the sea: fishing and harvesting other marine resources, salt making, sailing, trade, shipbuilding, and piracy. A common feature of the sewn boats of the Indian Ocean was the use of coir rope for stitching. As coconut palm plantations were restricted to certain parts of the Indian Ocean littoral, coir rope would have been one of the commodities in demand along the boat-building settlements of the coast.9 Thus, the building of the dhow, or traditional watercraft, involved trade and transportation of wood for planking and coconut coir for stitching from different regions of the Indian Ocean, thereby creating and sustaining networks of interaction.

Historically, these mobile communities, variously termed sea gypsies or boat people, traveled across the waters unhampered and claimed sovereignty through kinship ties. At present, maritime hunting-gathering, often referred to as boat nomadism, as a subsistence strategy is limited to parts of island Southeast Asia. Traditionally, the habitat of the so-called sea nomads included traveling by boat over an area extending from Burma across the Indonesian archipelago to the Riau-Lingga islands beyond Singapore to reach the Sulu Sea in the southern Philippines. They facilitated movement of commodities and forged links with littoral states. These communities were by no means homogenous and instead consisted of several ethno-linguistic groups, each with their own histories, culture, and speech patterns.10 One of the groups that has been studied ethno-archaeologically is the Chaw Lay based on the Phuket group of islands in south Thailand—Phuket being the meeting point and ceremonial center of the widely dispersed network of maritime hunter-gatherers.11

Current research indicates that prior to 2300 bp, the entire East African littoral was occupied by hunter-gatherer fishing communities using microlithic stone tool technology and utilizing marine resources. The period from 2300 to 1500 bp witnessed the gradual emergence of the first farming and iron-using groups.12 One of the sites on the Indian Ocean littoral where an attempt was made to study faunal remains, especially those of fish, was Shanga on the Lamu archipelago, off the coast of Kenya, dated between the 8th and 14th centuries ce. Relatively small numbers of fish remains were found in the earlier levels, with a peak in consumption in the 13th century.13 The rarity of fish and animal bones in the early levels was, however, complemented by the presence of shellfish in sufficient quantities.

These maritime communities are to be distinguished from merchants and traders involved in oceanic trade.14 Merchants and traders in some cases certainly owned ships and watercraft, but they neither manned nor sailed these. More often, however, goods and cargoes were entrusted to the skipper of the vessel, who was then responsible for their sale and profit.15

Boatbuilding Traditions

One of the much-debated issues of Southeast Asian archaeology is the expansion and dispersal between 6500 bce and 1000 ce of major linguistic groups termed the Austro-Asiatic and the Austronesian languages, often assumed to have a common ancestor in the Austric phylum. The spread of Austronesian speakers throughout island Southeast Asia has been attributed to their success in boat technology. It has been suggested that around 2000 bce they already had a boatbuilding technology based upon lashings, protruding pierced lugs, and a hollowed base for the hull with added planks. At this stage, however, they must have adopted their own unique triangular sail and the outrigger construction.16

The Periplus Maris Erythraei, a text in Greek written by an anonymous writer and dated to the 1st century ce, perhaps provides the first detailed description of local boats in the Indian Ocean in the early centuries ce and several types extending from the East African coast to the west coast of India are referred to. The Periplus informs us that: “Two runs beyond this island [Menuthias = Zanzibar?] comes the very last port of trade on the coast of Azania, called Rhapta [sewn], a name derived from the aforementioned sewn boats, where there are great quantities of ivory and tortoise shell.” Interestingly, the Periplus informs us that Rhapta was under the firm control of a governor appointed by the Arabian king of the Yemeni center of Muza, where taxes were collected, and was serviced by “merchant craft that they staff mostly with Arab skippers and agents who, through continual intercourse and intermarriage, are familiar with the area and its language.”17

Ethnographic studies based on present traditions of boatbuilding and navigation indicate that as elsewhere, a variety of craft are used along the coasts of the Indian Ocean, ranging from the log rafts and dug-outs to cargo carriers.18 One region where attempts have been made to document ethnographic data with a view to addressing questions of historical relevance is Oman.19 In places such as Musandam in northern Oman, numerous communities continue to employ traditional maritime practices such as fishing, coastal trading, and boatbuilding. In addition to documenting the craft used by these and other communities, another facet of the research was the collection of a lexicon of boatbuilding and maritime terminology, both to categorize the types of vessel and to examine. Based on a series of interviews with shipwrights and seamen, and the collation of these with information available in medieval Arabic sources, Dionisius Agius presents an overview of the diversity of sailing craft termed dhows in the Gulf, which are and have traditionally been used for cargo-carrying, pearl diving and piracy, and also as slaving vessels.20

In recent years, attempts have been made to document boatbuilding traditions in several regions of South Asia.21 Indeed, the east and west coasts of the subcontinent are characterized by two distinct boatbuilding traditions: while the former is home to the log-raft, it is the dug-out that prevails along the west coast. In contrast, sewn craft are found scattered throughout the entire coastline.22 It is true that at present these boats are largely used for fishing, as mechanized trawlers having taken over much of the coastal and long-distance transportation by sea.

As mentioned earlier the boats of the Indian Ocean were stitched with coir rope, which would have been one of the commodities in demand along the boatbuilding settlements of the coast. Even now, coir required for the beden, or fishing boats, constructed at Hafun in Somalia is brought from further south, probably Kenya or Zanzibar. Similarly, timber for planking is said to come from Mombasa and Tanzania via Mogadishu, and from India via Mukalla or Aden.23 There is evidence for the continuing practice of import of teak from India to Socotra for the construction of traditional boats.24

The traditional system of navigation in the Indian Ocean was based on stellar knowledge, and nautical learning was founded on the accumulated experience of navigators. These skills were communicated orally and learned during years of apprenticeship. The maritime literature in Greek, Sanskrit, and Arabic dated prior to 1000 ce was largely descriptive and integrated accounts relating to coastal navigation, winds, ports, and more into descriptions of countries. From the end of the 9th century, however, there are references to maps and portulans, though transformation and expansion is evident in the 15th and 16th centuries. Perhaps the single most significant point of disjunction in the history of navigation in the Indian Ocean was the introduction of the steamship in the 19th century. Historical evidence indicates that as a result, the indigenous system underwent radical changes. Seafaring activity shifted from being “fair weather” to “all weather.” Instead of the traditional communities, liner companies now dominated maritime trade. The Muallim nī pothīs now preserved in the National Museum at New Delhi provide fascinating insights into the sailing world of the Indian Ocean and changes over time.25

A part of this material was studied by B. Arunachalam, especially one of the manuals, or pothīs, which contains five maps of parts of the coastline of peninsular India and Sri Lanka, accompanied by sailing directions.26 This pothī bears the date vs 1710, or 1664 ce, which makes its contents the oldest-known Indian coastline maps. The maps are line drawings, in ink and watercolor, of sections of the western part of the South Indian coast. They include shoreline features such as elevation, vegetation, and buildings visible from the sea, all details that would be of use to navigators. Islands are shown, and shallows and sandbanks are indicated by stippling. Port names are written in the land area and are accompanied by Pole Star–derived latitudes. Distances between ports or between the land and the observer’s vantage point are indicated in jāms (Arabic zāms), a unit used by both Arab and Indian sailors to indicate the distance sailed during a watch of three hours.27 How was the sailing world defined in the ancient period? It is here that coastal features and architectural structures not only linked the hinterland to the sea but also provided visible markers when approaching land from the sea and created coastal enclaves. It is these that need to be brought into the discussion.

Cultural Routes

In his study Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean, Abdul Sheriff has identified several peaks in this activity, starting from maritime contacts in the 3rd to the 2nd millennium bce between centers in the Persian Gulf and Gujarat and also the mouth of the Indus.28 An indigenous Omani cultural tradition emerged in the first half of the 3rd millennium bce with a widespread network of cultural and economic relations, especially with southeast Iran and the Indus Valley sites. Discoveries in Oman and the neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE) are beginning to show that raw materials such as copper and manufactured goods such as textiles were funneled across the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf through this route.

By the beginning of the Common Era, these connections had expanded to include almost the entire western Indian Ocean, including the island of Socotra, as evident from the Periplus Maris Erythraei. Varied treatment is accorded to different sectors of the Indian Ocean littoral in the text. One region noticeable by its omission from the Periplus is the Persian Gulf. It has been argued elsewhere by Salles that a careful reading of the text clearly shows the presence of several segments on the sailing route between Myos Hormos and Muziris, and though direct sailing was not unknown, it was certainly not a rule.29 One of these segments was the Persian Gulf route, a sector largely unknown to the Oriental Greeks from Egypt, and this accounts for the fact that it is not well represented in the Periplus, though archaeologically there is definite evidence for the participation of the region in the regional and long-distance maritime networks from the Hellenistic period onward. It should be emphasized that this extraordinary text perhaps represents the first attempt by Greek speakers to codify available information on sailing circuits in the western Indian Ocean, a process that is familiar in the later writings of the Arabs and, subsequently, the Europeans.

Another invaluable literary source for an understanding of the Indian Ocean network is the Christian Topography, written in the 6th century by an Egyptian monk, Cosmas Indicopleustes. Cosmas was in all probability of Greek parentage and a native of Alexandria. In the early part of his life, he was a merchant and had traveled widely in the western Indian Ocean. Later, he retired from secular life and moved to the cloister, where he devoted himself to the composition of works on geography, cosmography, and scriptural exegesis. The Christian Topography refers to a series of coastal centers on the west coast of India, and many of these overlap with those mentioned in the Periplus.30

Archaeological research in several countries of Southeast Asia has provided insights into the maritime network in the 1st millennium bce. The best-known bronze artifact of the period is the Heger I, or Dong Son, bronze drum with a wide distribution across peninsular and island Southeast Asia. Decorative friezes adorn the sides and the tympanum of the drums, and a prominent scene depicted is that of warriors in long boats. A remarkable association of these Dong Son or Heger I bronze drums is with boat burials. For example, on the Indonesian archipelago, the evidence comes from Plawangan on the north coast of central Java. Three boat burials were found at Kuala Selinsing on the west coast of Malaysia, located in the vicinity of the rich tin fields of Larut and Matang. The site is sixty-two miles south of Kedah, where numerous temple foundations have been found dated between the 7th and 11th centuries ce. Recent radiocarbon analysis dates the beginning of trading activity at the site to the 2nd century ce, though the stratigraphy of the site is unclear on account of its location in tidal mangrove swamps with a fluctuating water table. These early beginnings resulted in vibrant interchanges in the 1st millennium ce, as evident from inscriptions, coastal temples, and archaeological sites. 31

An important site on the north coast of Bali is that of Sembiran, where the beginnings of oceanic contacts with South Asia are dated as early as the 2nd and 1st centuries bce. The appearance of dharanis—or protective chants and mantras—in 9th- and 10th-century contexts on Bali suggests that the island was an integral part of the ancient Buddhist world. Balinese inscriptions dated from the late 10th up to 11th century mention several place names of sacred centers in India, such as Varanasi, Nalanda, and Amaravati.32

The rise of Islam led to the emergence of a Muslim community around the shores of the Indian Ocean linked by religion and further sustained by traveling scholars. There is more information on the nature of ships in textual accounts. Historians generally trace the origin of the modern term dhow to daw, a Swahili expression popularized by the British. The origins of the term dhow date to an earlier period and may be traced to the Persian dawh, used by the 10th-century Arabic lexicographer al-Azhari to mean “small ship.” Contemporary accounts indicate the use of teak from the Malabar coast of India in the making of the dhows and the use of coir-fiber stitching for holding the planks together. The famous Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta (1304 AH–1368/69 CE) has left a detailed account of his travels across the Indian Ocean, covering themes such as coastal cities, piracy, Muslim attitudes to sea travel, and the network of Islamic scholars who helped spread the faith and also consolidate it.33

From the 8th and 9th centuries onward, maritime space expanded to include East Asia, and Chinese wares were distributed through the Indian Ocean networks.34 Excavations at Fustat (Old Cairo) in Egypt have yielded Chinese ceramics dating from the 9th through the 15th century, with the largest concentration from the 10th to the 14th century.35 As the following example indicates, these need to be used with caution for demarcating the extent and nature of the network. The excavations at Siraf in the Persian Gulf yielded a Chinese stoneware fragment bearing two Arabic names, Yusuf and Mansur (or Maymun), incised before glazing the vessel, belonging to a jar probably sent by a merchant resident in China.36

Dionysius Agius shows that with the spread of Islam, Arabic was enriched by borrowings from Aramaic, Persian, Greek, Sanskrit, and other Indian languages. He also cautions against equating religious with ethnic identity, as Arabic sources do not make this distinction and label as Muslim all non-Arab foreigners who converted to Islam irrespective of their ethnic background.37 There are nevertheless exceptions. For example, the historian and geographer al-Mas’ūdī, (d. 345 AH/956–957 CE) writing in the 10th century, states that the Sirafis and Omanis were the leading seafarers of the time, thereby highlighting regional coastal identities.

New sectors were added to the networks over time, as evident from accounts of sailing and travel in Arabic, for example the 9th-century Book of Routes of Ibn Khurradadbeh, which describes several stages in the voyage to China. Adventures of sailors across the Indian Ocean have been immortalized in stories in different languages, many of which survive in later Arabic versions, such as in the Ajaib al-Hind, or Marvels of India, and narratives of Sindbad the Sailor. One of the popular tales is that of Ishaq the Jew, who left Oman with two hundred dinars but returned after thirty years from China with a “couple of million dollars” worth of merchandise.38 In the 14th century, Hormuz emerged as an important and magnificent city that controlled the horse trade across the western Indian Ocean, but more significantly with Gujarat and Karnataka.

Religious Travel

Another aspect of travel across the seas was for religious purposes and pilgrimage. The expansion of Buddhism across the Bay of Bengal can be partially attributed to sea travel. There were also seafaring travelers who were on hajj, or Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in the pre-modern period.39 A cluster of 5th-century inscriptions of unequivocal Buddhist affiliation was found in Kedah on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. This includes engraving of the Buddhist formula on stone—a feature that does not occur among contemporary records from the Indian subcontinent, though the formula is found on terra cotta sealings. Three of these inscriptions are made of local stone and bear similar illustrations of Buddhist stupas. Texts very similar to these inscriptions have been found on the island of Borneo and on the coast of Brunei.40 The most interesting of these inscriptions in Sanskrit is that of Buddhagupta, which refers to the setting up of the stone by the mariner Buddhagupta, resident of Raktamrttika, identified with Rajbadidanga in Bengal, on the successful completion of his voyage.41

There was a shift in maritime networks around the middle of the first millennium ce, and pilgrims visiting sites associated with the life of the Buddha formed a major category of travelers. More often quoted are records left by Chinese pilgrims who traveled to India and visited Buddhist sites. The pilgrim Faxian arrived overland in India in 399 ce and returned by sea to China in 413–414 ce from Sri Lanka, heading toward the northwest tip of Sumatra. The ship was wrecked on the way and perhaps landed in the Andamans. The next phase took Faxian to the northwest of Borneo, where he arrived in 414 after ninety days at sea. The pilgrim remained in Borneo for five months and then left for China in mid-414, heading toward Canton.

The most interesting information about circum-peninsular navigation of the Malay Peninsula is contained in Yijing’s accounts of the voyage of the Chinese pilgrims who traveled to India and returned during the second half of the 7th century ce. Yijing provides an account of his journey from Canton in October–November, with the northeast monsoon, and his arrival in Palembang on Sumatra a month later. He stayed there for six months, and then went to Jambi, near Palembang, sometime around May. He stayed there for another two months and then re-embarked in order to profit from the winds of the southwest monsoon to reach Kedah (Jiecha) on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. He did not leave this region for India until the beginning of the following year, when the northeast monsoon was well established. He reached the Nicobar Islands in ten days, and fifteen days later arrived at Tamralipti in Bengal. This was clearly the most direct route to the holy places of historic Buddhism.42

Twelve years later, Yijing returned by the same route, traveling on the winds of the northeast monsoon to reach Kedah, but this trip required two months, when the outward journey had taken only twenty-five days. Sailing against the winds was a well-tried technique but it took much longer than sailing with the winds. One of the voyages recounted by Yijing lasted only the time of one monsoon—the pilgrim Wujing left China “in the period of the east winds”—that is, in October–November—and arrived in Srivijaya at the end of a month. After stopping at Jambi he took another month, reaching Jiecha, and from there left for Nagapattinam on the Tamil coast with the same winds, before they began to wane toward the end of March.

The seaside town of Nagapattinam has played an important role in the history of transoceanic activity across the Bay of Bengal. Thirty-one devotional couplets of the 7th-century Tamil saints Appar and Sambandar describe Nagapattinam as a prosperous city with fortification walls and wide roads. Large ships known as vangam anchored along the coast, as it was a major center for onward travel to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.43 Nagapattinam was known for the presence of the Cudamanivihara, established in the 10th and 11th century by the king of Sriwijaya. The Chola kings record donations made to the vihara, which continued as a major landmark until the 19th century. These and other references found in Chinese writings and Chola inscriptions further corroborate the maritime links of Nagapattinam with Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and China.

A second Buddhist circuit is evident between the well-known center of Nalanda, Bengal, Andhra and Orissa coasts, and the Indonesian archipelago, as evident from the travels of the renowned Buddhist teacher Atiśa Dipankara. A Sanskrit inscription engraved on a large copper plate found in Nalanda in 1921 records that the king of the Pala Dynasty, Devapala (ruled c. 810–847), allocated five villages to support a monastery established there by Maharaja Balaputradeva, lord of Suvarnadvipa (Sumatra).44

Pilgrimage continued as a prime motive for travelers from China, and in 1021 ce the monk Yunshu worshipped at the site of Bodh Gaya. In addition to the accounts of Chinese monks, five stone tablets with 10th-to-11th-century Chinese inscriptions were found at Bodh Gaya, and two of the names that have been identified include those of Chi-I and Ho-yun, the former in the company of some other priests. This raises the issue of the importance of coastal sites and landscapes as markers of maritime cultural heritage.

Landing Places and Maritime Landscapes

The concept of a maritime cultural landscape highlights the interconnectedness of maritime spaces and cultural traditions. It highlights varied articulations of social and political power, as well as regional and local nautical traditions. A relevant issue relates to the definition of the term port, which is often used rather loosely to indicate a coastal center, with no attempt to differentiate it from landing place, beach and inlet market places, tidal harbors at which cargoes were exchanged, or coastal centers where customs duties were levied.

The Periplus Maris Erythraei uses the term limen six times and hormos thirteen times, often interchangeably, and in this it follows the practice of the Greek papyri from Egypt. The most frequently used is the term emporion, which occurs fifty times and refers to places for mooring that also offered facilities for buying and selling.45 Prominent examples of the first two in Ptolemy are Leukos Limen on the Red Sea coast, Moscha Limen (Khor Rori) on the south Arabian coast, which was a collection point for frankincense, and Myos Hormos on the Red Sea coast, while many of the Indian coastal sites are termed emporion. Clearly then, Greek writings make a distinction between coastal centers based on several factors, and also raise the question of duties that the state levied on incoming vessels, a factor that gains importance from the 5th century onward, especially in Gujarat.

A trend that is relevant to the reconstruction of coastal landscapes relates to shifts in coastal centers over time; for example, between the settlements of Bharuch, Sopara, Kalyan, Chaul, and Surat—all located on the Konkan coast in the present states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. These shifts were linked both to silting of river mouths where the centers were located, as well as to changes in internal routes linking the coast to the capitals and cities of the interior. It was only with the transformation of the motley collection of seven islands with a variety of landing places into the port of Bombay in the 19th century that an identifiable and permanent port city was created on the west coast of India. Until this transformation, several landing places had been in existence in the vicinity of Bombay.

This use of a distinctive terminology to differentiate between a variety of coastal stations continues in Arabic sources, which refer to bandar (Sanskrit bhandara), daryābār, furda, iskila, kallā, and marfa’ or murfa’.46 In addition to terminology, Arabic sources also provide insights into the collection of customs duties at coastal centers, with Aden being especially important in the 13th century. The city was surrounded by watchtowers and small forts, which were used to keep track of incoming vessels, the first information of which was conveyed to the governor of the town. In the case of cargo ships, officials boarded the vessel and made preliminary enquiries about the origin of the ship, its merchandise, and the nature of commercial goods on board. After inspection, the quantum of duty was calculated and the officials removed the masts, sails, rudder, and anchors from the ship to ensure compliance with the rules. These were returned only when the duty had been paid. There are references to a duty of one-tenth of the goods being levied by the Sultan of Oman in 317 AH/929 CE.47 It is significant that the only harbor installation mentioned is the lighthouse, which consisted of wooden posts driven into the seabed to assist navigators in approaching the coast. Lanterns with lights enclosed in glass were often placed on these posts.48 Thus, the study of maritime activities requires academic rigor, which starts from adoption of appropriate terminology.

One of the characteristic features of maritime activity from the 9th and 10th centuries onward was the location of markets in fortified settlements along the Indian Ocean littoral and farther inland. Rules governing the payment of taxes and regulating the functioning of the markets were often inscribed on copper plates and provide useful insights into the organization of the trade network. The Quilon copper plates of Sthanu Ravi from the Malabar coast are significant in connection with trading rights granted to the Christian church. A market was located within the precincts of the fortified settlement at the coastal center of Quilon, while the church was situated outside the fortification wall.49 Unfortunately, there is very little that remains of these earlier fortified settlements, and a majority of the present forts date from the 13th century onward, though most of these are at present in a poor state of preservation.

As the brief survey presented shows, there is no denying the fact that archaeological sites, shrines, and forts form a part of the maritime heritage of the Indian Ocean. In the context of the sea, this is even more important since coastal features along the shore provided visibility and were used as markers by sailing vessels. They defined the sailing world in antiquity and produced a distinctive maritime milieu. These broad generalizations are important to understand patterns in maritime networks in the Indian Ocean, though the emphasis on trade contacts and identifying “peaks” based on available textual and archaeological data often hides a more complex picture, as is evident from the shipwreck sites in the region.

Shipwreck Sites

The earliest known evidence for deliberately constructed sailing ships is dated to about 5500 bce and has been unearthed in archaeological excavations at the site of As-Sabiyah in a sheltered bay in Kuwait. “Boat-related finds consist of a ceramic model of a reed-bundle boat; a painted disc depicting a sailing boat and over 50 pieces of bituminous amalgam, mostly with reed-impressions and/or barnacle encrustations, which are interpreted as fragments of the waterproof coating of sea-going reed-bundle boats.”50 As-Sabiyah is one of nearly sixty coastal sites in the Gulf dating to the 6th and 5th millennia bce that show evidence of contact with southern Mesopotamia. Scholars increasingly argue for crediting agency to the small-scale communities in the region, which linked the sites in the Gulf to a maritime exchange relationship with centers in southern Mesopotamia.

The oldest shipwreck in the region dates to between the 1st century bce and 1st century ce and lies off the fishing village of Godavaya on the south coast of Sri Lanka. The ship was transporting a cargo of raw materials, including what appear to be ingots of iron and others of glass, as well as finished stone querns (hand-operated mills) and ceramic bowls, when it sank some time before the 1st century ce.51 Further across the Indian Ocean, a somewhat later 9th-century shipwreck of a vessel of possible Indian or Arab origin was found in Indonesian waters in 1998. The wreck was located just north of the main town and port of Belitung Island, Tanjung Pandan. A large number of 7th-century Chinese coins and ceramics were recovered from the site, indicating that the ship was traveling on the route from the Persian Gulf to China.52 The wood for the ship originated in India, though the ship itself may have been constructed in the Arab region, based on an analysis of bitumen pieces found near the wreck.53 The Kadakkarapally boat found in a coconut grove in the Indian state of Kerala with no associated finds was radiocarbon dated to 11th-–12th century ce and represents a cargo-carrying sailing craft best suited for the backwaters and large rivers of Kerala at the southern tip of the Arabian Sea, as stated by the excavator.54

Several European shipwrecks have been located and excavated in the Indian Ocean.55 An early 16th-century wreck found off the coast of Oman in 1998 and excavated between 2013 and 2015 is said to be that of the Esmeralda, which was part of a fleet led by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama during his second voyage to India (1502–1503). This conclusion is based on the find of a Portuguese coin minted for trade with India (one of only two coins of this type known to exist) and stone cannonballs engraved with what appear to be the initials of Vincente Sodré, da Gama’s maternal uncle and the commander of the Esmeralda.56 Between 1977 and 1980, the 17th-century Portuguese shipwreck Santo Antonio de Tanna, off Mombasa, was excavated under the auspices of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and the National Museums of Kenya.57 An 18th-century shipwreck off Sadana Island south of Hurgada is a unique example of a shipbuilding tradition that seems to have strong links to the western Indian Ocean. It was also the first scientific excavation of such a cargo in Egypt’s Red Sea waters. The porcelain found, along with Indian pepper and coconuts, black-lipped pearl-oyster shells, spices from islands in the Indian Ocean, and earthenware vessels, incense, and coffee from the Hadhramawt, tells us that the ship sank on a northbound journey.58

Thus, the data from shipwrecks is gradually adding to our understanding of the cultural milieu of maritime activity in the region. Shipwreck sites often get implicated in issues of ethics and politics, largely due to the high commercial value of goods and cargoes recovered.59 Recovering and recording wrecks invariably requires large outlay of resources, and in the absence of public funding for the purpose, this activity is often supported by commercial firms, which then need to sell at least a part of the cargo to recover costs.

Stone Anchors

Stone anchors were the earliest type of anchor to be used and have been found across the western Indian Ocean from Mombasa60 to Sri Lanka and the east coast of India. Most stone anchors comprise two parts: one is the stone, which provided the weight to take the anchor to the seabed, whilst the holding power was provided by means of separate arms, usually made of wood. They continued to be used well into the present, which makes the dating of stone anchors immensely difficult.

The Farasan archipelago lies off the Arabian shore of the southern Red Sea, some thirty-one miles from Jizan, the Saudi port town. During archaeological exploration, a large stone anchor made of fossil coral rock was found on land, some 1.6 miles from the nearest contemporary shoreline, on a plateau alongside the Wadi Matar in the southeast of Greater Farasan Island in a pre-Islamic context. The manufacture and appearance of the anchor do not compare to other anchors reported elsewhere to date: this, together with the fact that a local stone has been used, suggests an indigenous or regional technology.61

Typical “Indo-Arabian” stone anchors from Siraf belong to a type that was widespread throughout the Indian Ocean in the pre-Islamic and early Islamic era, from East Africa to Iran and from Oman to Sri Lanka.62 Generally, composite anchors made of flat slabs have two round or square or rectangular holes at the lower side meant for wooden flukes, and a circular rope hole on the upper side, as evident from the Mombasa finds.

Stone anchors from India have been found both during excavations, such as at the 3rd-millennium bce sites of Lothal and Kuntasi in Gujarat, as well as in onshore and offshore explorations by the National Institute of Oceanography. Most of the stone anchors have been found without an archaeological context, which makes dating them very difficult. Some have been used as lintels in the construction of medieval forts along the west coast of India.63

Discussion of the Literature

Secondary writings have generally focused on maritime trade, which has conventionally been viewed as trade in luxury items and controlled by empires, such as the Roman Empire, European trading companies, and so on. The sea in these writings is seen as an extension of land-based concerns. An issue that needs to be underlined is the importance of a study of ceramics for demarcating routes and landfalls, and not as indicators of “colonies,” as seems to be the persistent argument in the context of the Early Historical period in the Indian subcontinent since Mortimer Wheeler first termed Arikamedu as an Indo-Roman trading station after his excavations in 1946.64 The characteristic ceramic of Gujarat was the Red Polished Ware (RPW), which marks technological refinement over earlier pottery and represents a major change in the economic life of the region. It has been dated between 50 bce and 300 ce. RPW sherds have been found at almost four hundred coastal and inland sites and represent a wide variety of rim shapes, with 160 stylistic variations in jars alone.65 These coastal centers by no means existed in isolation, but on the contrary maintained a symbiotic relationship with agriculturists based at inland centers.

A lack of archaeological data from Early Medieval coastal sites, particularly in Gujarat, is a major handicap in an appraisal of the shifts and changes in the sea lanes over time. Kervran’s work in Oman focuses on the importance of the Red Polished Ware, with its epicenter in Gujarat as evidence of early maritime contacts.66 At Suhar, the ceramic occurs in the 1st- and 2nd-century ce levels and decreases in levels corresponding to the Sasanian period (3rd–6th century ce). Subsequently, coarse varieties of the ware in red and black are in evidence. During the Abbasid period (750–1250 ce), the similarities are more with sites in the Indus delta, such as Dabhol, rather than with Gujarat. Linked to this is the disregard for non-local coarse pottery in the archaeological record as an indicator of maritime networks in the Indian Ocean. Pots were used in antiquity to transport commodities and the finds of non-local pottery sherds need to be studied with greater attention.

George Fadio Hourani (1913–1984), a British philosopher, historian, and classicist, associated the history of Arab seafaring in the Indian Ocean with expanding commerce that reached its peak in the 9th and 10th centuries ce. He suggested that after the 10th century, the references are few and far between and present a continuation of the earlier established traditions.67 Historians have written about the unity of the Indian Ocean determined by the rhythms of long-distance maritime trade, but most of these studies relate to pre-modern and modern periods of history.68 The intention here is to shift the focus from trade to the social practice of maritime technology, which formed the substructure of maritime activity and underwrote this unity, but is by no means restricted to trade.

A somewhat different approach was adopted by James Hornell (1865–1949), an English zoologist and seafaring ethnographer. Based on ethnological studies, he described distinct boatbuilding traditions that evolved along the major regions of the Indian Ocean. In 1946, Hornell published the distillation of a lifetime’s work in Water Transport, in which his major preoccupation was with tracing the evolution of watercraft, as well as their common origins and diffusion.69 It has been argued that the contribution of ethnographic studies is primarily as indicators for resolving questions on the technical capabilities of water transport. The same problems have arisen whenever and wherever people have built boats of wood—hence the importance of the ethnographic approach.70 Many of Hornell’s conclusions continue to be repeated in academic writings, and it is only the boat typology formulated by him that has been modified in recent years.71 The potential of archaeology, especially underwater archaeology, for a study of boatbuilding techniques has yet to be fully tapped in the Indian Ocean region, though there have been preliminary forays into surveying and exploration of some areas.

In his study of the Indian Ocean, Michael Pearson reversed the gaze by examining the impact on land from movements of people, cargoes, ideas, and religions across the Indian Ocean. “Rather than look out at the oceans from the land, as so many earlier books have done, a history of an ocean has to reverse this angle and look from the sea to the land and most obviously to the coast. There has to be attention to land areas bordering the ocean, that is the littoral. A history of the ocean needs to be amphibious, moving easily between land and sea.”72 Another recent survey of the history of the Indian Ocean is by Edward A. Alpers.73 The book succinctly condenses a vast corpus of secondary writings into a very readable slim book that integrates accounts by medieval and modern voyagers, historians, and even navigators like Ibn Majid with data drawn from archaeology and archival sources.

The larger issue raise in this discussion is the quest for a history of sea spaces, cultural routes, and maritime landscapes not confined to the borders of present nations and their histories, as has been the case so far. Sea space may be defined as a plural assemblage of spatial representations, practices, and imaginations related to the sea seen as social space. These may be categorized as coastal spaces; mobile spaces represented by the boat; island spaces; harbor spaces; and the sea as an imagined space.74 The demarcation of sea spaces may be understood through intellectual traditions of writing, but, more importantly, through an active engagement with the nature of coastal installations that physically circumscribed the seafaring world and framed the interactions of several groups. Accepting the centrality of the seas helps shift the focus from national to transnational heritage and routes. It also draws sailing ships (often termed dhows) of the pre-modern period into discussion, as well as shipwreck sites, and aids in a plural understanding of the past.

Primary Sources

This section will provide pointers for further research on the theme and is by no means intended as an exhaustive survey of the primary source material. Adding to the complexity of the task is the fact that data from different regions is uneven. Thus, the attempt is merely to indicate the variety of sources available. Early interest in seafaring activity in the Indian Ocean was the result of references contained in textual accounts of the region in a variety of languages, such as Greek,75 Sanskrit, Pali, Tamil, Arabic,76 Persian, Chinese, and so on. Though these literary writings present mental maps of journeys rather than actual historical accounts, they are nevertheless valuable for according insights into the conceptualization of sea spaces at different times in history and from diverse vantage points. These are often supplemented in inscriptions, as in the case of those from South Asia. A pioneering work on shipping in the Indian subcontinent that is yet to be replaced is Radha Kumud Mookerji’s study.77 A comprehensive survey of textual and archaeological sources, the work encompasses a truly monumental time span—extending from the protohistoric Harappan period to the early 20th century.

Boat ethnography is a resource that has grown over time as accounts of traditional boatbuilding yards and watercraft have acquired complexity. Present traditions indicate that a variety of craft are used along the coasts of the Indian Ocean, ranging from log rafts and dug-outs to cargo carriers.78 A misconception often associated with ethnographic data is the suggestion that the watercraft of antiquity were similar to the present traditional craft of the Indian Ocean. Thus a link is sought to be established between plank-built vessels depicted on the stamp seals from Failaka with the present day Arab bum. Yet it would be naïve to accept continuity, especially since European influence in the region has considerably modified the build of larger vessels engaged in trade or warfare in the region. Some evidence of this is provided by the large number of technical nautical terms in Gulf Arabic, which are loan words from Portuguese.

The potential of archaeology, especially underwater archaeology, for a study of boatbuilding techniques has yet to be tapped in the Indian Ocean region. Coastal features such as landing places or harbor installations could be profitably used for a study of seafaring activity in the pre-modern period, but the bulk of the data on this theme remains scattered and under-utilized.79 Another topic on which little information is available is coastal fortification. Much of the archaeological work along the Indian Ocean littoral has focused on trading centers and settlements, and a range of sites have been excavated dating from the protohistoric period onward. What is nevertheless required is an enquiry into the mechanisms through which trading networks functioned, as well as into the watercraft used in the transportation of commodities across the Indian Ocean in the pre-modern period.

It is evident that there are large gaps in our understanding of maritime archaeology in the pre-modern period. These lacunae need to be attended to not only for a study of the history of technology, but more so for an appreciation of cultural landscapes and maritime routes. It is crucial that shipbuilding traditions be documented, not as exotic markers of a bygone era, but as a holistic study of maritime communities. This must include an emphasis on rituals, social practices, and beliefs.

Further Reading

Agius, Dionisius A. In the Wake of the Dhow. Reading, U.K.: Garnet, 2002.Find this resource:

Agius, Dionisius A. Classic Ships of Islam: From Mesopotamia to the Indian Ocean. London and Boston: Brill, 2008.Find this resource:

Alpers, Edward A. The Indian Ocean in World History. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Flecker, Michael. “A Ninth-Century Arab Shipwreck in Indonesia: The First Archaeological Evidence of Direct Trade with China.” In Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds. Edited by Regina Krahl, 100–121. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2011.Find this resource:

Greenhill, Basil. Archaeology of Boats and Ships: An Introduction. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1976.Find this resource:

Hoogervorst, Tom. Southeast Asia in the Ancient Indian Ocean World. Oxford: BAR International Series S2580, 2013.Find this resource:

Horton, Mark and John Middleton. The Swahili: The Social Landscape of a Mercantile Society. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000.Find this resource:

Hourani, George Fadio. Arab Seafaring in the Indian Ocean in Ancient and Early Medieval Times. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951.Find this resource:

Jacq-Hergoualc’h, Michel. The Malay Peninsula: Crossroads of the Maritime Silk Road (100 bc–1300 ad). Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002.Find this resource:

Manguin, Pierre-Yves, A. Mani, and Geoff Wade, eds. Early Interactions between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange. Singapore and Delhi: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and Manohar, 2011.Find this resource:

McGrail, Sean. Boats of the World: From the Stone Age to Medieval Times. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Pearson, Michael. The Indian Ocean. London and New York: Routledge, 2003.Find this resource:

Pham, Charlotte Minh-Hà L. Asian Ship Building Technology. Bangkok: UNESCO, 2002.Find this resource:

Ray, Himanshu Prabha. The Winds of Change: Buddhism and the Maritime Links of Early South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994.Find this resource:

Ray, Himanshu Prabha. The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Ray, Himanshu Prabha, and Jean-François Salles, eds. Tradition and Archaeology: Early Maritime Contacts in the Indian Ocean. New Delhi: Manohar, 1996.Find this resource:

Risso, Patricia. Merchants and Faith: Muslim Commerce and Culture in the Indian Ocean. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995.Find this resource:

Sheriff, Abdul, Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean. London: Hurst, 2010.Find this resource:


(1.) Keith Muckelroy, Maritime Archaeology: New Studies in Archaeology (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 3–22.

(2.) Himanshu Prabha Ray, The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2003), chapter II.

(3.) André J. Veldmeijer, “Fishing Nets from Berenike (Egyptian Red Sea Coast),” Papers on Ancient Egypt 3 (2004): 99–110.

(4.) M. Beech, “The Development of Fishing in the UAE: A Zoo-archaeological Perspective,” in Archaeology of the United Arab Emirates, eds. Daniel Potts, Hasan Al Naboodah, and Peter Hellyer (London: Trident Press, 2003), 289–308.

(5.) Charles Higham, “Social Organisation at Khok Phanom Di, central Thailand (2000–1500 bc),” Arts Asiatiques 44.1 (1989): 25–43.

(6.) Dorian Q. Fuller, Nicole Boivin, Tom Hoogervorst, and Robin Allaby, “Across the Indian Ocean: The Prehistoric Movement of Plants and Animals,” Antiquity 85 (2011): 544–558.

(7.) Fuller et al., “Across the Indian Ocean,” 546.

(8.) Tom Hoogervorst, Southeast Asia in the Ancient Indian Ocean World (Oxford: BAR International Series S2580, 2013).

(9.) Ray, Archaeology of Seafaring, chapter III.

(10.) Cynthia Chou, “Space, Movement and Place: The Sea Nomads,” in The Sea, Identity and History: From the Bay of Bengal to the South China Sea, eds. Satish Chandra and Himanshu Prabha Ray (New Delhi: Manohar, 2013), 41–66.

(11.) R. A. Engelhardt and P. R. Rogers, “Maritime Adaptive Strategies in Post-Pleistocene Southeast Asia,” in Indo-Pacific Prehistory: The Chiang Mai Papers, eds. Peter Bellwood, and D. Tillotson, (Canberra: Australian National University, 1997), 177–192.

(12.) Colin Breen and Paul J. Lane, “Archaeological Approaches to East Africa’s Changing Seascapes,” World Archaeology 35.3 (2003): 469–489.

(13.) Mark Horton, Shanga: The Archaeology of a Muslim Trading Community on the Coast of East Africa (London: British Institute in Eastern Africa, 1996), 391.

(14.) This is an argument that figures in several papers in Tradition and Archaeology: Early Maritime Contacts in the Indian Ocean, eds. Himanshu Prabha Ray and Jean-François Salles (New Delhi: Manohar, 1996).

(15.) Kenneth McPherson, “Maritime Communities: An Overview,” in Cross Currents and Community Networks: The History of the Indian Ocean World, eds. Himanshu Prabha Ray and E. A. Alpers (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007): chapter II; and Himanshu Prabha Ray, “Shipping in the Indian Ocean: An Overview,” in Ships and the Development of Maritime Technology in the Indian Ocean, eds. David Parkin and Ruth Barnes (London: Routledge and Curzon, 2002), 1–27.

(16.) Charlotte Minh-Hà L. Pham, Asian Ship Building Technology (Bangkok: UNESCO, 2002).

(17.) Lionel Casson, The Periplus Maris Erythraei: Text with Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), 61.

(18.) Sean McGrail, Lucy Blue, Eric Kentley, and Colin Palmer, Boats of South Asia (London: Routledge and Curzon, 2003).

(19.) Tom Vosmer, “Maritime Archaeology, Ethnography and History in the Indian Ocean: An Emerging Partnership,” in Archaeology of Seafaring: The Indian Ocean in the Ancient Period, ed. Himanshu Prabha Ray, (New Delhi: Indian Council of Historical Research, 1999), 291–312.

(20.) Dionisius A. Agius, In the Wake of the Dhow (Reading, U.K.: Garnet, 2002).

(21.) Lotika Varadarajan, Sewn Boats of Lakshadweep (Goa, India: National Institute of Oceanography, 1998).

(22.) Jean Deloche, Transport and Communications in India, vol. 2: Water Transport (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994), fig. XXXVII.

(23.) H. N. Chittick, “Sewn Boats in the Western Indian Ocean and a Survival in Somalia,” The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploration 9.4 (1980): 297–304.

(24.) Julian Jansen van Rensburg, “The Hawārī of Socotra, Yemen,” The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 39.1 (2010): 99–109.

(25.) The Muallim nī pothīs are manuals or captains’ log books, which contain details of coastal landmarks, directions of sailing and so on. The earliest surviving specimens date from the seventeenth century and one of these is now preserved in the manuscript section of the National Museum, New Delhi with the number MS 82.263.

(26.) B. Arunachalam, “The Haven-Finding Art in Indian Navigational Traditions and Cartography,” in The Indian Ocean: Explorations in History, Commerce, and Politics, ed. Satish Chandra (New Delhi: SAGE, 1987), 191–221; and Joseph E. Schwartzberg, “Nautical Maps,” in History of Cartography, eds. J. B. Harley and David Woodward (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), vol. 2, book 1, 494–503.

(27.) Ashok Rajeshirke, Pre-Modern Kutchi Navigation Techniques and Voyages (Vadodara, India: Darshak Itihas Nidhi, 2015).

(28.) Ray, Archaeology of Seafaring; and Abdul Sheriff, Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean (London: Hurst, 2010), 131, 133, 139.

(29.) Jean-François Salles, “The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and the Arab-Persian Gulf,” Topoi 3.2 (1993): 506.

(30.) Cosmas Indicopleustes, The Christian Topography, trans. J. W. McCrindle (London: Hakluyt Society, 1897), Book XI, 367–368.

(31.) Pierre-Yves Manguin, A. Mani, and Geoff Wade eds., Early Interactions between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange (Singapore and Delhi: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and Manohar, 2011); and Himanshu Prabha Ray, The Winds of Change: Buddhism and the Maritime Links of Early South Asia (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994).

(32.) I Wayan Ardika, “Sembiran: An Early Harbour in Bali,” in Ancient Harbours in Southeast Asia: The Archaeology of Early Harbours and Evidence of Inter Regional Trade, eds. John N. Miksic and Geok Yian Goh (Bangkok: SEAMEO SPAFA Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts, 2013), 21–29.

(33.) Michael N. Pearson, The Indian Ocean (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 62–112.

(34.) A. Rougelle, “Medieval Trade Networks in the Western Indian Ocean,” in Tradition and Archaeology, eds. Himanshu Prabha Ray, and Jean-François Salles, (New Delhi: Manohar, 1996), 159–180.

(35.) Katherine Strange Burke and Donald Whitcomb, “Quseir al-Qadim in the Thirteenth Century,” Ars Orientalis 34 (2004): 92.

(36.) M. Tampoe, Maritime Trade Between China and the West (Oxford: BAR International Series, 1989), 555.

(37.) Dionisius A. Agius, Classic Ships of Islam: From Mesopotamia to the Indian Ocean (London and Boston: Brill, 2008), 10–11.

(38.) Sheriff, Dhow Cultures, 173.

(39.) Patricia Risso, Merchants and Faith: Muslim Commerce and Culture in the Indian Ocean (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995); and Michael Pearson, Pious Passengers: The Hajj in Earlier Times (London: Hurst, 1994).

(40.) J. W. Christie, “State Formation in Early Maritime Southeast Asia: A Consideration of the Theories and the Data,” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 151.2 (1995): 256.

(41.) B. Ch. Chhabra, Expansion of the Indo-Aryan Culture during Pallava Rule (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1965), 23–24.

(42.) Michel Jacq-Hergoualc’h, The Malay Peninsula: Crossroads of the Maritime Silk Road (100 bc–1300 ad), (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002), 53–54.

(43.) Gokul Seshadri, “New Perspectives on Nagapattinam,” in Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa: Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions, eds. Hermann Kulke, K. Kesavapany, and Vijay Sakhuja (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2009), 107–108.

(44.) Hiranand Shastri, “The Nalanda Copper Plate of Devapaladeva,” Epigraphia Indica 17.7 (1924): 310–327.

(45.) Casson, The Periplus Maris Erythraei, 271–277.

(46.) Agius, Classic Ships of Islam, 174.

(47.) Ibid., 227–228.

(48.) Ibid., 217–218.

(49.) Meera Abraham, Two Medieval Merchant Guilds of South India (New Delhi: Manohar, 1988), 110.

(50.) Robert Carter, “Boat Remains and Maritime Trade in the Persian Gulf During the Sixth and Fifth Millennia bc” Antiquity 80 (2006): 53.

(51.) Deborah N. Carlson and Ken Trethewey, “Exploring the Oldest Shipwreck in the Indian Ocean,” Institute of Nautical Archaeology Quarterly 40.1 (Spring 2013): 9–14.

(52.) Michael Flecker, “A 9th-century Arab or Indian Shipwreck in Indonesian Waters,” The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 29.2 (2000): 199–217.

(53.) Pauline Burger, Armelle Charrié-Duhaut, Jacques Connan, Pierre Albrecht and Michael Flecker, “The 9th-Century-ad Belitung Wreck, Indonesia: Analysis of a Resin Lump,” The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 39.2 (2010): 383–386.

(54.) Ralph K. Pedersen, “The Shipwreck in the Coconut Grove: The Kadakkarapally Boat,” The Institute of Nautical Archaeology Quarterly 31.2 (2004): 8.

(55.) Paul J. Lane, “Maritime and Shipwreck Archaeology in the Western Indian Ocean and Southern Red Sea: An Overview of Past and Current Research,” Journal of Maritime Archaeology 7.1 (October 2012): 9–41; and James W. Hunter III, “Indian Ocean: Maritime Archaeology,” in Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, ed. Claire Smith (New York: Springer, 2014), 3760–3770.

(56.) Kristen Romey, “Shipwreck Discovered from Explorer Vasco da Gama’s Fleet,” National Geographic, March 14, 2016. Accessed July 11, 2016.

(57.) R. Piercy, “Excavation of a Shipwreck in Mombasa Harbour, Kenya,” National Geographic Society Research Reports, 1976 Projects (1982): 17–30; and R. Piercy, “The Tragedy of the Santo Antonio de Tanna: Mombasa, Kenya,” in Beneath the Seven Seas, ed. G. Bass (London: Thames & Hudson, 2005), 172–179.

(58.) Cheryl Ward, “The Sadana Island Shipwreck: An Eighteenth-Century ad Merchantman off the Red Sea Coast of Egypt,” World Archaeology 32.3 (February 2001): 368–382.

(59.) Michael Flecker, “The Ethics, Politics, Realities of Maritime Archaeology in Southeast Asia,” The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 31.1 (2002): 12–24.

(60.) Caesar Bita and Sila Tripathi, “Stone Anchors from Mombasa, Kenya: Evidence of Maritime Contacts with Indian Ocean Countries,” Bulletin of the Australasian Institute of Maritime Archaeology 39 (2015): 84–91.

(61.) John P. Cooper and Chiara Zazzaro, “A Stone Anchor from the Farasan Island, Saudi Arabia,” International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 41.2 (September 2012): 407–411.

(62.) Tom Vosmer, “Indo-Arabian Stone Anchors in the Western Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea,” Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 10 (1999): 248–263.

(63.) Sila Tripati, A. S. Gaur, and Sundaresh, Maritime Archaeology and Shipwrecks off Goa (New Delhi: Kaveri Books, 2013); Sila Tripati, Abhay Mudolkar, and Vijay Khedekar, “Petrographic Studies on a Newly Discovered Indo-Arabian Stone Anchor from the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat: Implications for Source Area,” Current Science 102.9, (May 10, 2012): 1309–1313.

(64.) Himanshu Prabha Ray, Colonial Archaeology in South Asia (1944–1948): The Legacy of Sir Mortimer Wheeler in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007).

(65.) Nancy Pinto Orton, “Sea-Going Trade in Early Historic Gujarat (c. 100 bc to ad 500)” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2001), 125.

(66.) Monique Kervran, “Indian Ceramics in Southern Iran and Eastern Arabia: Repertory, Classification and Chronology,” in Tradition and Archaeology: Early Maritime Contacts in the Indian Ocean, eds. Himanshu Prabha Ray and Jean-François Salles (Singapore and New Delhi: Institute of South East Asian Studies and Manohar, 2012): 37–58.

(67.) George Fadio Hourani, Arab Seafaring in the Indian Ocean in Ancient and Early Medieval Times (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951).

(68.) K. N. Chaudhuri, Asia Before Europe: Economy and Civilisation of the Indian Ocean from the Rise of Islam to 1750 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991); Kenneth McPherson, The Indian Ocean: A History of People and the Sea (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993); and Michael Pearson, ed. Trade, Circulation, and Flow in the Indian Ocean World (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

(69.) James Hornell, Water Transport: Origins and Early Evolution (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1946).

(70.) Basil Greenhill, Archaeology of Boats and Ships: An Introduction (London: Conway Maritime Press, 1976).

(71.) Sean McGrail, Lucy Blue, Eric Kentley, and Colin Palmer, Boats of South Asia (London: Routledge and Curzon, 2003).

(72.) Michael Pearson, The Indian Ocean (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 5.

(73.) Edward A. Alpers, The Indian Ocean in World History (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

(74.) Filipe Themudo Barata and João Magalhães Rocha, eds. Heritages and Memories from the Sea, First International Conference of the UNESCO Chair in Intangible Heritage and Traditional Know-How: Linking Heritage, 14–16 January 2015 (Évora, Portugal: Electronic edition, 2015).

(75.) Grant Parker, The Making of Roman India (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

(76.) Akhbār al-Sīn wa-l-Hind, with a supplement by Abu Zayd al-Hassan Sirafi, Arabic edition and English translation by Tim Mackintosh-Smith as Accounts of China and India. Abū Zayd al-Sīrāfī in Two Arabic Travel Books, eds. Philip F. Kennedy and Shawkat M. Toorawa, (New York: New York University Press, 2014): 4–161.

(77.) Radha Kumud Mookerji, Indian Shipping: A History of the Sea-borne Trade and Maritime Activity of the Indians from the Earliest Times (London: Longmans, 1912).

(78.) Sean McGrail, Boats of the World: From the Stone Age to Medieval Times (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

(79.) Ian Glover and Peter Bellwood, eds., Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History (London and New York: Routledge Curzon, 2004); and Jeffrey Fleisher, Paul Lane, Adria LaViolette, Mark Horton, Edward Pollard, Eréndira Quintana Morales, Thomas Vernet, Annalisa Christie, and Stephanie Wynne-Jones, “When Did the Swahili Become Maritime?” American Anthropologist 117.1 (March 2015): 100–115.