Name ID 2081

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Schoff , W.H. (tr. & ed.), The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea: Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century
Extract Author: Periplus
Page Number: 50-59
Extract Date: 0200

Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century

Ancient History Sourcebook

50. Beyond Barygaza the adjoining coast extends in a straight line from north to south; and so this region is called Dachinabades, for dachanos in the language of the natives means 'south.' The inland country back from the coast toward the east comprises many desert regions and great mountains; and all kinds of wild beasts -- leopards, tigers, elephants, enormous serpents, hyenas, and baboons of many sorts; and many populous nations, as far as the Ganges.

51. Among the market-towns of Dachinabades there are two of special importance; Paethana, distant about twenty days' journey south from Barygaza; beyond which, about ten days' journey east, there is another very great city, Tagara. There are brought down to Barygaza from these places by wagons and through great tracts without roads, from Paethana carnelian in great quantity, and from Tagara much common cloth, all kinds of muslins and mallow cloth, and other merchandise brought there locally from the regions along the sea-coast. And the whole course to the end of Damirica is seven thousand stadia; but the distance is greater to the Coast Country.

52. The market-towns of this region are, in order, after Barygaza: Suppara, and the city of Calliena, which in the time of the elder Saraganus became a lawful market-town; but since it came into the possession of Sandares the port is much obstructed, and Greek ships landing there may chance to be taken to Barygaza under guard.

53. Beyond Calliena there are other market-towns of this region; Semylla, Mandagora, Palaepatmoe, Melizigara, Byzantium, Togarum and Aurannoboas. Then there are the islands called Sesecrienae and that of the Aegidii, and that of the Caenitae, opposite the place called Chersonesus (and in these places there are pirates), and after this the White Island. Then come Naura and Tyndis, the first markets of Damirica, and then Muziris and Nelcynda, which are now of leading importance.

54. Tyndis is of the Kingdom of Cerobothra; it is a village in plain sight by the sea. Muziris, of the same kingdom, abounds in ships sent there with cargoes from Arabia, and by the Greeks; it is located on a river, distant from Tyndis by river and sea five hundred stadia, and up the river from the shore twenty stadia. Nelcynda is distant from Muziris by river and sea about five hundred stadia, and is of another Kingdom, the Pandian. This place also is situated on a river, about one hundred and twenty stadia from the sea.

55. There is another place at the mouth of this river, the village of Bacare, to which ships drop down on the outward voyage from Nelcynda, and anchor in the roadstead to take on their cargoes; because the river is full of shoals and the channels are not clear. The kings of both these market-towns live in the interior. And as a sign to those approaching these places from the sea there are serpents coming forth to meet you, black in color, but shorter, like snakes in the head, and with blood-red eyes.

56. They send large ships to these market-towns on account of the great quantity and bulk of pepper and malabathrum. There are imported here, in the first place, a great quantity of coin; topaz, thin clothing, not much; figured linens, antimony, coral, crude glass, copper, tin, lead; wine, not much, but as much as at Barygaza; realgar and orpiment; and wheat enough for the sailors, for this is not dealt in by the merchants there. There is exported pepper, which is produced in quantity in only one region near these markets, a district called Cottonara. Besides this there are exported great quantities of fine pearls, ivory, silk cloth, spikenard from the Ganges, malabathrum from the places in the interior, transparent stones of' all kinds, diamonds and sapphires, and tortoise-shell; that from Chryse Island, and that taken among the islands along the coast of Damirica. They make the voyage to this place in a favorable season who set out from Egypt about the month of July, that is Epiphi.

57. This whole voyage as above described, from Cana and Eudaemon Arabia, they used to make in small vessels, sailing close around the shores of the gulfs; and Hippalus was the pilot who by observing the location of the ports and the conditions of the sea, first discovered how to lay his course straight across the ocean. For at the same time when with us the Etesian winds are blowing, on the shores of India the wind sets in from the ocean, and this southwest wind is called Hippalus, from the name of him who first discovered the passage across. From that time to the present day ships start, some direct from Cana, and some from the Cape of Spices; and those bound for Damirica throw the shlp's head considerably off the wind; while those bound for Barygaza and Scythia keep along shore not more than three days and for the rest of the time hold the same course straight out to sea from that region, with a favorable wind, quite away from the land, and so sail outside past the aforesaid gulfs.

58. Beyond Bacare there is the Dark Red Mountain, and another district stretching along the coast toward the south, called Paralia. The first place is called Balita; it has a fine harbor and a village by the shore. Beyond this there is another place called Comari, at which are the Cape of Comari and a harbor; hither come those men who wish to consecrate themselves for the rest of their lives, and bathe and dwell in celibacy; and women also do the same; for it is told that a goddess once dwelt here and bathed.

59. From Comari toward the south this region extends to Colchi, where the pearl-fisheries are; (they are worked by condemned criminals); and it belongs to the Pandian Kingdom. Beyond Colchi there follows another district called the Coast Country, which lies on a bay, and has a region inland called Argaru. At this place, and nowhere else, are bought the pearls gathered on the coast thereabouts; and from there are exported muslins, those called Argaritic.

Extract ID: 5145