organisation of trade through guilds, increased monetisation of trade with the
growth in the number of coins, and the like.
    Trade seems to have been conducted primarily in luxury items and not in
essential items. India was obviously enjoying a favourable balance of trade as
evident from the complaints of Roman writers like Pliny that bullion was
flowing out of their country to India.
Role of Trade
The role of trade in an economy and the consequent effects depend upon the
degree to which it dominates the economic network in a particular region at a
certain time.
    Where the major revenue was from trade, as for instance along the west
coast, it must have played the same role as land revenue in other areas.
    The effect of trade on the economy and society would also vary according
to the nature of the role played by various regions. It has been pointed out
that while most of north India was involved in ‘transit trade’, in the south
there was greater predominance of ‘territorial trade’. At Arikamedu even a
few months of excavations have revealed a considerable mass of
Mediterranean artifacts, while many years of excavations at Taxila reveal
only a few pieces. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the economic
impact of external trade, especially Roman trade is more evident in the south
than north.
External Trade
Indo-Egyptian Trade Regular maritime contact between India and Egypt
began after 23 BC, though the Ptolemaic rulers tried to promote direct trade
by sea between the two countries even earlier by constructing ports like
Berenice and Myos-Hormus. However, the all-sea route had not become very
popular up to 23 BC. According to Strabo, in the time of Ptolemy scarcely
anyone would venture on this voyage for commerce with the Indies. It is only
after 23 BC that Indian traders sailed directly to the Somali ports and appeared
in Egypt. An inscription found at Redesiya mentions an Indian merchant,
Sophon, travelling over the Caravan route to Coptos. Towards the close of
the first century BC Indo-Egyptian   trade increased in volume. Strabo mentions