Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade from Augustus to the Early Third Century CE


In Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade from Augustus to the Early Third Century CE Matthew Adam Cobb examines the development of commercial exchange between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean worlds from the Roman annexation of Egypt (30 BCE) up to the early third century CE.
Among the issues considered are the identities of those involved, how they organised and financed themselves, the challenges they faced (scheduling, logistics, security, sailing conditions), and the types of goods they traded.
Drawing upon an expanding corpus of new evidence, Cobb aims to reassess a number of long-standing scholarly assumptions about the nature of Roman participation in this trade. These range from its chronological development to its economic and social impact.

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Matthew Adam Cobb, Ph.D. (2012), Swansea University, is a lecturer of Ancient History at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. He has published several articles relating to the nature of Roman participation in the Indian Ocean trade.
"Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade is a fascinating monograph on a subject that has grown more and more popular among scholars over the last century. (...) Overall, this book provides a very good introduction to the trade between the Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean. It will likely be of greatest interest to ancient economic historians, but the thorough descriptions and explanations of facts and concepts make the book accessible to a general, non-specialist audience. (...) The author is to be commended for producing a publication that is a valuable contribution to the study of ancient international trade and serves as a model for sound, well-reasoned scholarship." - Dario Nappo, in: CJ~online 2019.07.08
"Cobb präsentiert einen kenntnisreichen Überblick zum Osthandel, der sich auf eine breite Quellengrundlage stützt und den aktuellen Stand der Forschung widerspiegelt. Sein Verdienst ist es zweifellos, eine gelungene und auf umfangreichen eigenen Recherchen basierende Zusammenschau der jüngeren wissenschaftlichen Auseinandersetzung mit dem Osthandel zu bieten. Sein Buch wird auch angesichts der ständig wachsenden und fast unüberschaubaren Literaturfülle weiteren Studien zur Thematik als Hilfsmittel willkommen sein." - Monika Schuol, Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2020.09.39
Acknowledgements List of Tables, Maps and Figures
1 IntroductionScope of the BookKey ThemesScholarly DevelopmentsApproaching the EvidenceSummary
2 The Ptolemies and the Erythra ThalassaEarly Ptolemaic Activity in the Red SeaVoyages over the Open Ocean: The Monsoon Trade WindsIncreasing TradePtolemaic MonopoliesPtolemaic Egypt and the Port of ArikameduPtolemaic Routes and FacilitiesSummary
3 Organisation and FinanceMerchants and FinanciersThe Scale of InvestmentShip Design and ConstructionSummary
4 The Roman State and the Indian Ocean TradeFacilitating the TradeAdministration and SecurityRoman Military and Diplomatic PolicyThe Imperial Family’s Commercial Interests?Summary
5 Trade Routes and Merchant DiasporasTrading Routes and SchedulesMerchant DiasporasRomans in the Far EastSummary
6 ImportsImports from the Indian OceanIndian Ocean Goods and Roman SocietySummary
7 ExportsExports from the Mediterranean WorldRoman Coins in India
8 Rome’s Trade Balance with IndiaA Roman Trade Deficit?The Significance of Gold and Silver as ExportsBallast and StowageCrew ProvisionsSummary
9 The Peak of Roman Trade in the Indian OceanRoman Participation in the Indian Ocean Trade: The Second and Third CenturiesArchaeological Evidence: The Dating of Roman ExportsArchaeological Evidence: The Red Sea Ports and the Eastern Desert FortletsInterpreting the Chronological Patterns
10 ConclusionThe Development of Roman Trade in the Indian OceanSchedules, Practicalities and Roman DiasporasIndian Ocean Goods and Roman SocietyBarter and BullionThe Peak Period of Roman TradeAfterword
Bibliography Index
This book will be of interest to both academics and students who study Roman trade, as well as those interested in Indian Ocean world history and global interconnections.
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