kingdoms of Egypt and Arabia as well as the Malay archipelago. After the
fall of the Greeks and the conquest of Egypt by the Romans (first century
AD), Roman trade became very important.
    The great port cities were the emporia of foreign trade. Big ships entered
the port of Puhar and poured out on the beach precious merchandise brought
from overseas. The family life of the rich merchants of this city was carried
on in the upper floors, while the lower ones were set apart for business.
Saliyur in the Pandya country and Bandar in Chera are counted among the
most important ports in the poems.
    The author of the Periplus (75 AD) gives the most valuable information
about this trade between India and the Roman empire. He mentions the ports
of Naura (Cannanore), Tyndis (the Tondi of the poems, identified with
Ponnani) and Muziris (Musiri, Cranganore), and Nelcynda (near Kottayam)
as of leading importance on the west coast. Muziris abounded in ships sent
there with cargoes from Arabia and by the Greeks. This trade increased in
volume after Hippalus, an Egyptian Greek pilot, showed the possibility of
large ships sailing with the monsoon straight across the ocean instead of
small vessels bugging the coast and exposing themselves to many risks.
Other ports of south India mentioned by the author are Balita (Varkalai),
Comari, Colchi (Korkai where the pearl fisheries of the Pandyan kingdom
were worked by condemned criminals), Camara (Kaveripattinam), Poduca
(Arikamedu, near Pondicherry) and Sopatma (Markanam).
    There were three types of crafts used on the east coast; ships of the
country coasting along the shore; other large vessels made of single logs
bound together called sangara, and very large vessels, called colandia which
made voyages to chryse and to the Ganges.
    The author of the Peri plus mentions Argaru (Uraiyur) as the place to
which were sent all the pearls gathered on the coast and from which were
exported muslins called argaritic. He notes further that a great quantity of
muslins was made in the region of Masalia (Andhra country) and that ivory
was a special product of the country further north, Dosarene (i.e. Dasarana,
    The large quantities of gold and silver coins struck by all the Roman
emperors down to Nero (54-68 AD) found in the interior of the Tamil land
testify to the extent of the trade, the presence of Roman settlers in the Tamil