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Maritime Spice Route

India had trade relations with many foreign nations from ancient times. Assyrians and Babylonians have been known to import spices and perfumes from Kerala from as far back as 3000 BC. Sreedhara Menon in his book “A Survey of Kerala History”:http://www.puzha.com/e-arcade/dcb/cgi-bin/book-detail.cgi?code=2445 writes that “Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt”:http://www.artsales.com/ARTistory/Ancient_Ships/08_hatsheput_expedition.html sent five ships through Red Sea to find the perfumes required to preserve the bodies of dead kings.

Now Archeologists from UCLA and the University of Delaware have unearthed the most extensive remains to date from sea trade between India and Egypt

bq. Among the buried ruins of buildings that date back to Roman rule, the team discovered vast quantities of teak, a wood indigenous to India and today’s Myanmar, but not capable of growing in Egypt, Africa or Europe. Researchers believe the teak, which dates to the first century, came to the desert port as hulls of shipping vessels. When the ships became worn out or damaged beyond repair, Berenike residents recycled the wood for building materials, the researchers said. The team also found materials consistent with ship-patching activities, including copper nails and metal sheeting.

bq. In addition to this evidence of seafaring activities between India and
Egypt, the archaeologists uncovered the largest array of ancient Indian goods ever found along the Red Sea, including the largest single cache of black pepper from antiquity – 16 pounds – ever excavated in the former Roman Empire. The team dates these peppercorns, which were grown only in South India during antiquity, to the first century. Peppercorns of the same vintage have been excavated as far away as Germany.

bq. In a dump that dates back to Roman times, the team also found Indian coconuts and batik cloth from the first century, as well as an array of exotic gems, including sapphires and glass beads that appear to come from Sri Lanka, and carnelian beads that appear to come from India. [via “Popular Science”:http://popular-science.net/history/india_egypt_trade_route.html]

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