Trade routes around the world
Indo-Roman Trade From the commercial point of view, the most
important development of this period was the thriving trade between India,
particularly southern India, and the Roman empire. In the beginning the
major part of this trade seems to have been by land. But the movement of the
Sakas, Parthians and Kushanas hampered the smooth flow of this trade.
However, since the first century AD, trade was carried on mainly by sea. The
discovery of the ‘monsoons’ (derived from the Arabic word mausim) by
Hippalus (a Greek sailor) in 45 AD gave a great impetus to this trade
(according to some historians, the Arabs knew even earlier that the winds of
the monsoon could cause ships to sail across the Indian Ocean, but kept it as
a closely guarded secret). The sailors now became armed with better
knowledge of navigation, which enabled them to call at the Indian ports of
Barygaza or Bhrigukachchha (Broach), Arikamedu (near Pondicherry) and
Tamralipti (Tamluk). Later, the consolidation of the empire by the Kushana
rulers, who exercised suzerainty over extensive parts of the lower Indus
valley and western India either directly or through their satraps, contributed
to the further extension of this trade.