Such works and documents as Periplus of the Erythraean Sea play an important role in forming the public’s vision of the development of the Indian Ocean world during the period of 50-100 CE.
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That is why the work by Seland (2010) which discusses the aspects of Periplus of the Erythraean Sea while focusing on the context of the political power and maritime trade can be discussed as rather effective to provide the author’s interpretation of the socio-political situations and events. In his book, Seland not only reviews the trade notes made by the anonymous Greek author but also gives his evaluation of the described processes and events.
From this point, Leland’s book is important to discuss the variety of topics which are associated with the history of the Indian Ocean world during the period of 50-100 CE.
Although Iceland pays much attention to discussing the presented systems of the maritime trade in the book, he also provides the detailed analysis of the information related to such topics and issues as the development of complex societies, the progress of the political and economic life in the region, and the development of the concept of ‘polity’; thus, this information is also useful to discuss the context in which the idea of the Sanskrit cosmopolis is developed.
The first important theme to be discussed about the progress of the Indian Ocean world is the development of maritime trade and its dependence on the cycle of the monsoon winds. According to Seland (2010:68), such natural processes as the cycle of the monsoon winds influenced the maritime trade significantly because of determining the time when it was possible to organize the trade voyages.
Depending on the natural processes, the rulers of the states and traders developed a set of policies to be able to gain a lot of benefits from the maritime trade. Rulers and traders also paid much attention to analyzing the needs of the other states to develop effective commerce.
Thus, Seland (2010:68) notes that many ships with silk, spices, textiles, and grain transported the goods from one territory to the other to create the developed trade network in the region. Referring to the maritime connections, it is possible to note that the rulers and traders focused on organizing the wide system of trade which could serve to gain more profits for the states.
It is also necessary to focus on Iceland’s contribution to discussing the development of complex societies, the growth of kingdoms, and the interpretation of the details of the political and economic life. The period of 50-100 CE is the era of development of the unique complex societies in Africa and Southern India. In his book, Seland (2010:84) states that urbanization and foreign trade stimulated the growth of such kingdoms as Chera, Pandya, and Chola.
Any change in the trading world led to the changes in the economic life of these kingdoms. Furthermore, the changes in the economic systems led to the development of such economic centers as emperor, metropolis, poleis, and coastal ports. The growth of these centers and societies accentuated the fact that the economic and political life of the Indian Ocean world changed significantly in 50-100 CE.
Also, it is appropriate to focus on the author’s interpretation of the concept of ‘polity’ while discussing features of political life in the region.
Seland (2010:84) emphasizes the discussion of the processes which led to the reorganization of the societies and the progress of new ‘polities’ as alternative variants of states. Polities typical for the discussed period had no central organization and differed from the traditional states. Referring to Seland’s discussion of the ‘polity,’ it is possible to focus on those social bodies which were influential during the discussed period.
Much attention should be paid to discussing Iceland’s ideas in the context of the Sanskrit cosmopolis. In spite of the fact that the discussed work does not reflect the idea of the Sanskrit cosmopolis, the author’s conclusions are important to understand what political, social, and economic changes led to creating the set of ideas known today as the Sanskrit cosmopolis.
Following Iceland’s visions of the role of the trade for the progress of the Indian societies, it is possible to note that such transcultural formation as the Sanskrit cosmopolis could develop only as a result of the maritime activities, voyages, trade connections, and the intellectual exchange.
In spite of the fact that Iceland focuses on reviewing the ideas from Periplus of the Erythraean Sea in his book, the author’s interpretation is important to influence the public’s vision of the role of the trade systems in the Indian Ocean world.
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Seland’s ideas are important to discuss such themes as the global system of trade, the role of maritime commerce, and the growth of trading societies. Furthermore, Iceland effectively explains the concept of ‘polity,’ and his work creates the context for discussing the idea of the Sanskrit cosmopolis.
Seland, Eivind Heldaas. “Ports and Political Power in the Periplus: Complex Societies and Maritime Trade on the Indian Ocean in the First Century AD”. British Archaeological Reports Monograph Series No. 9. Oxford: Arcaheopress, 2010. 1-97. Print.