Indic Mercantile Networks and the Indian Ocean World: A Millennial Overview (c. 500–1500 CE)
The Indian Ocean is the maritime face of Asia with South Asia occupying a central geographic position therein. The essay situates a millennium of seafaring, commercial and cultural networks of South Asia in the protracted maritime history of the Indian Ocean by using diverse sources (textual, epigraphic, numismatic, visual, field archaeological and business letters). Particular attention is paid to maritime merchants and their cultural worlds which were marked with vibrant plurality. The essay also underlines the crucial importance of bulk and staple commodities shipped to distant destinations. The Indian Ocean network during the 500–1500 CE phase offers an image of an open sea which was not considered a contested maritime space by major political powers who however appreciated the significance of maritime interactions.