Organised by: Roberta Tomber

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea provides the most detailed written account of trade between the Roman Empire and the Orient. A Greek text, attributed to an anonymous sailor or merchant of the mid-first century AD, this document traces the routes, originating at Myos Hormos on the Egyptian Red Sea, extending along the coast of Arabia (but not entering the Persian Gulf) and eventually to the west and east coasts of India. In addition the imports and exports from the ports and some description of what the visitor might find there are included. A separate route down the coast of east Africa is also detailed. For many years this document formed the main evidence for Rome’s trade with the East, but in the last two decades renewed interest in the subject has seen intensive archaeological investigation in all of these regions.

This session will present the results of recent archaeological evidence from key port sites active in this trade. It will critically assess the location, date and range of artefacts and environmental finds in reference to the Periplus and in doing so evaluate the reliability of this text and whether it can be regarded representative of the period. The geographical range of sites presented offers the opportunity to pose broader questions as to the nature of trade beyond the Empire and how it compares to that within the Empire.

The lived experience at Berenike (Egypt) during the time of the Periplus, Iwona Zych

Aynuna (Saudi Arabia): a Nabataean port on the Red Sea, Michał Gawlikowski

Imports and exports with the Roman world during the reign of Zoskales and in Aksum at the time of the Periplus Maris Erythraei, Chiara Zazzaro and Andrea Manzo

A port in Arabia on the Indian Ocean between Rome and India, Alexia Pavan

Indian Ocean as a trade lake: the critical role of Pattanam (Muziris?), P.J. Cherian

Converging spotlights: Indian Ocean archaeology and the Periplus Maris Erythraei, Federico de Romanis