Relationships between East and West have always fascinated historians of Greece and Rome, whether ancient or modern. Roman trade with india, which took off massively in the first century CE and continued actively over several centuries, proved immensely alluring and profitable to ancient Roman investors, bankers and merchant mariners but disturbing to moralists, who viewed the haemorrhage of Western wealth to the East with deep foreboding.
Modern Euro-centric scholarship has until the recent past been preoccupied with Greco-Roman sources and the problems they posed. But in the last few decades Indian archaeology, literature and history have added new dimensions and stimulated radical reappraisals of the routes to India and Sri Lanka, the trading networks in both the Indian and Roman world and the impact of such trade on the Roman and Indian economics.
This book collects and translates into English some of the studies that have been recently published by French and Italian scholars. It also includes a specially contributed overview by the eminent Indian historian Romaila Thapar that demonstrates how far the ethnocentric vision of Indo- Roman history has shifted. The intention is to open up European Scholarship to Indian scholars and encourage the ongoing dialogue between scholars on both sides of the Indian Ocean.
Federico De Romnis (1961) is assistant professor at the University of Catania. His works on trade in Red Sea and Indian Ocean include Cassia, cinnamomo, ossidiana. Uomini e merci tra Mediterraneo e oceano Indiano (1996).
Born in 1936, Andre Tchernia has been a pioneer in French underwater archaeology. He has studied Roman trade, published many articles and The Wine of Roman Italy. He is now professor of Roman history and archaeology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Marseilles.
Over the last fifteen years Italian and French scholars have published various studies of contacts between India and Rome, including the ancient sources related to the subject. But the place of publication and the languages in which they were written have until now hindered the diffusion of these studies among many potential readers, in particular Indian scholars and other English-speaking students. The aim of this book is to make them more accessible. We, the editors, are convinced that a more thorough dialogue between scholars east and west of the Indian Ocean will greatly advance the progress of historical research in this field. Although the opinions and approaches of the authors differ in certain respects, the seven articles are no the whole coherent, and when complemented by M.F. Boussac and J. F. Sallers, Athens, Aden, Arikamedu (Manohar, 1995), provide a reliable panorama of modern research which has developed within this sphere in Latin countries.
We are grateful to the Centre de Sciences Humaines (Cultural Section of the French Embassy, New Delhi), formerly directed by Olivier Guillaume, and now by Bruno Dorin, and to the Italian Cultural Centre in New Delhi, directed by Carlo Coen, both of Whom have welcomed the project, financed the translation and taken part in its publication. We also express our thanks to the editors of Journals in which the articles first appeared for permission to translate and reprint the texts. Finally, we warmly thank Professor Romila Thapar who has kindly agreed to write, from her own broad perspective, an introduction which provides a general framework for the articles and opens up new vistas, and Dr. C.R. Whittaker who has greatly improved the English translation.
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