HOW MARITIME TRADE AND THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT SHAPED THE WORLD
Ice Age to Mid-Eighth Century
by Nick Collins
World-wide maritime trade has been the essential driver of wealth-creation, economic progress and global human contact. Trade and exchange of ideas have been at the heart of economic, social, political, cultural and religious life and maritime international law. These claims are borne out by the history of maritime trade beginning in the Indian Ocean and connecting to Southeast Asia, Japan, the Americas, East Africa, the Middle East especially the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean and Europe. This development predates the end of the Ice Age with worldwide flooding and stimulated the establishment of land-based civilizations in the above regions with particular effect on the Greek and Roman empires and even China’s ‘Celestial’ empire. The Indian subcontinent was the original major player in maritime trade, linking oceans and regions. Global maritime trade declined with the fall of Mediterranean empires and the ‘dark age’ in Europe but revived with Indian Ocean and Asian maritime networks. Shipping and trade studies are hugely practical but can be technical, legalistic and even dull for non-specialists. But this history is a broadly based and exciting account of human interaction at multiple levels, for general readers, specialists and practitioners. It is based on huge reading and rare sources and with an attractive writing style, and full of fascinating sidelights illuminating the historical narrative – and from an author with lifelong experience in international shipping.
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