Rome and the Distant East

Rome and the Distant East : Trade Routes to the Ancient Lands of Arabia, India and China


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This book studies the complex system of trade exchanges and commerce that profoundly changed Roman society. In ancient times there were several major trade routes that connected the Roman Empire to exotic lands in the distant East. Ancient sources reveal that after the Augustan conquest of Egypt, valued commodities from India, Arabia and China became increasingly available to Roman society. These sources describe how Roman traders went far beyond the frontiers of their Empire, travelling on overland journeys and maritime voyages to acquire the silk, spices and aromatics of the remote East.Records from ancient China, early India and a range of significant archaeological discoveries provide further evidence for these commercial contacts. Truly global in its scope, this study is the first comprehensive enquiry into the extent of this trade and its wider significance to the Roman world. It investigates the origins and development of Roman trade voyages across the Indian Ocean, considers the role of distant diplomacy and studies the organization of the overland trade networks that crossed the inner deserts of Arabia through the Incense Routes between the Yemeni Coast and ancient Palestine. It also considers the Silk Road that extended from Roman Syria across Iraq, through the Persian Empire into inner Asia and, ultimately, China.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 262 pages
  • 158 x 236 x 26mm | 557.92g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Hambledon Continuum
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1, black & white illustrations
  • 1847252354
  • 9781847252357
  • 1,569,551

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Review quote

This is the first comprehensive, reliable account of the extensive overland and maritime trade between the Roman Empire and the "Distant East" in the early centuries CE. It is well-researched, well-written, and well-supported with liberal quotes, useful maps, and an excellent bibliography. It clearly describes how important these early contacts were, both economically and for the exchange of ideas, across Eurasia - contacts that continue to influence our world today and our understanding of it. His vivid descriptions of the difficulties faced and overcome in establishing these intercontinental and trans-oceanic trade routes are particularly fascinating. This work already has a permanent place among the few treasured references I always keep to hand while writing. I heartily recommend it as essential reading for anyone with an interest in the ancient history of the Silk Routes, the Roman or Chinese Empires, India, Persia, or the lands between. It is certain to open new vistas, and deepen appreciation of both ancient and modern societies.--Sanford Lakoff

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About Dr Raoul McLaughlin

Dr Raoul McLaughlin is a Tutor at Queen's University Belfast. His research interests include Roman commerce and the ancient economy

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