The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia

The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia

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Prior to European expansion, communities of the Indian subcontinent had a strong maritime orientation. In this new archaeological study, Himanshu Prabha Ray explores seafaring activity, religious travel and political economy in this ancient period. By using archaeological data from the Red Sea to the Indonesian archipelago, she reveals how the early history of peninsular South Asia is interconnected with that of its Asian and Mediterranean partners in the Indian Ocean Region. The book departs from traditional studies, focusing on the communities' maritime history rather than agrarian expansion and the emergence of the state. Rather than being a prime mover in social, economic and religious change, the state is viewed as just one participant in a complex interplay of social actors, including merchants, guilds, boat-builders, sailors, pilgrims, religious clergy and craft-producers. A study that will be welcomed by students of Archaeology and Ancient History, particularly those interested in South Asian more

Product details

  • Paperback | 350 pages
  • 176 x 242 x 24mm | 721.22g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 14 b/w illus. 4 colour illus. 22 maps 5 tables
  • 0521011094
  • 9780521011099
  • 1,139,281

Review quote

"Finally, maritime historians will rejoice that we now have our first sea-focussed discussion of the early history of South Asia." International Journal of Maritime Historyshow more

About Himanshu Prabha Ray

Himanshu Prabha Ray is Associate Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru more

Table of contents

Part I. Historiography and the Maritime Landscape: 1. The perspective; 2. Historiography; 3. The maritime landscape; 4. Geographical knowledge of the Indian Ocean in antiquity: Part II. Fishing and Sailing Communities: Cross-Cultural Contacts; 5. Marine and coastal resources; 6. Maritime communities; 7. Boat nomads; 8. Piracy; 9. Fishing communities: the historical record; 10. Sailing communities: Part III. La Longue Duree: Transportation; Boat-Building Technology and Navigation: 11. Archaeology of the boat; 12. The stitched tradition; 13. Early European response; 14. The ethnographic evidence; 15. Boat-building centres; 16. Traditional navigation; 17. Ownership of vessels; 18. Organisation of shipping; 19. Organisation of shipping; 20. Innovation and change; 21. Repair and maintenance; 22. Chronology of disjunction: Part IV. Maritime Trade Networks: The Beginnings (third-second millenia BCE); 23. Mesopotamian contacts; 24. The Persian Gulf and early maritime networks; 25. The Harappan civilization; 26. The maritime regions of the Harappans; 27. Networks of trade: internal; 28. Transition and change: Part V. Regional Integration: (late second - first millennium BCE); 29. The Persian Gulf; 30. Socotra; 31. Peninsular India; 32. Sri Lanka; 33. Southeast Asia: Part VI. Consolidation of Political Structure: 34. The setting; 35. Political concepts in early Buddhism: theory and practice; 36. Satavahanas and their successors; 37. Alliance as political strategy; 38. The early policies in Sri Lanka; 39. Political developments in early Southeast Asia; 40. Royalty and ritual: Part VII. The Greeks: Adventurers, Traders and Travellers; 41. The explorers; 42. Hellenistic settlements; 43. The Nabataeans, Sabeans and Gerrhaeans; 44. The maritime network; 45. Christian communities: Part VIII. Merchant Lineage and the Guild; 46. Merchant communities and interaction with the state; 47. Organisation of inland trade; 48. The Indian Ocean network; 49. Foreigners and trade networks; 50. Money and the use of coins: Part IX. Multiple Meanings: Craft Production and Trade Networks: 51. The trading commodities; 52. The textiles; 53. Beads; 54. Ivory; 55. Metal artefacts; 56. Organisation of crafts: Part X Shared Faith: 57. Social base of early Buddhism; 58. The worship of the Stupa and the Relics; 59. Pilgrimage; 60. Ritual and ceremony; 61. Buddhism and maritime activity; 62. Archaeology of monastic sites; 63. Continuity and change: Part XI. Retrospect and Prospect: 64. In conclusion; 65. Future research more