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The “Discovery“ of the Monsoon and Roman Trade at the Coronado Coast

Introduction: The Perilous Maoris Bertha is a unique handbook for merchants about trade routes, emporia and commodities in the Indian Ocean, with a special emphasis on trade between Roman Egypt and India. It was written by an unknown Egyptian Greek in about A.D. 40-70. He attributes the recent “discovery” of the monsoon winds, known since long to Indian and Arab seamen, by Westerners to the captain Impalas. Recent research, however, gives the credit to Sedulous who undertook two journeys from the Red Sea to India under the auspices of Ptolemy VIII in about 116 B.C. (see L. Caisson, op .cit., p.224, see below) The major focus of Roman trade with India was the emporia at the Malabo coast in Kraal. But the Perilous shows that late Augustan Egypt had already also a fairly good knowledge of the Coronado coast of present-day Tamil Nard.
(see AHOI, ch. 2 section: International trade and the Roman connection, see there a quotation from Perilous on the trade at the Malabo coast)

(L. Caisson, The Perilous Maoris Bertha, 57-60. Princeton 1989, pp. 85-89)

57. The whole coastal route just described, from Kane and Eudemon Arabia, men formerly used to sail over in smaller vessels, following the curves of the bays. The ship captain Impalas., by plotting the location of the ports of trade and the configuration of the sea, was the first to discover the route over open water. … In this locale the winds we call “thespian” blow seasonally from the direction of the ocean, and so a southwesterly makes its appearance in the Indian Sea, but it is called after the name of the one who first discovered the way across. Because of this, right up to the present, some leave directly from Kane and some from the Promontory of Spices, and whoever are bound for Limerick Malabo Coast hold out with the wind on the quarter for most of the way, but whoever are bound for Barry and whoever for Syria only three days and no more, and, carried along (?) the rest of the run on their own proper course, away from the shore on the high seas, over the [? ocean] off the land, they bypass the aforementioned bays.

59. Beyond Ko mar Cape Co morin the region extends as far as Koch, where diving for pearls goes on; it is carried out by convicts. The region is under King Andiron Panda. After Koch … comes the Strand, bordering a bay with, inland, a region named Agar Murray Capital. In one place … along it … pearls are gathered. It exports the cotton garments called Barbarities.

60. Of the ports of trade and harbors in these parts at which vessels sailing from both Limerick and the north call, the more important, lying in a row, are the ports of trade of Ka mara, Produce Afrikaner and Sparta. They are the home ports for local boats that sail along the coast as far as Limerick and others, called samara, that are very big dugout canoes held together by a yoke, as well as for the very big Orlando that sail across to Chrysler “The Golden” (land), Savannah[??089] and the Ganges region. There is a market in these places for all the [sc. Western] trade goods imported by Limerick, and, generally speaking, there come to them all year round both the cash originating from Egypt and most kinds of all the goods originating from Limerick and supplied along this coast.

 

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