(Tamil Heritage Trust)
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
K R A Narasiah
at 5.30pm on Saturday, July 6th, 2013
at Vinoba Hall, Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya, T Nagar.
About the Topic:
The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea: Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century - W.H. Schoff (tr. & ed.), 1912.
The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea is a guide book of navigation and sea trade. The account starts from Egyptian Port of Mussel Harbour and traces all the ports along the coast of Arabia, then on to the coast of India from the mouth of Indus to Bengal in detail and talks about the distances and sailing time, along with various commodities traded in the ports visited. The text has been ascribed to mid-1st century. The original work is by a Greek Navigator and the English translation with a historical analysis was done by W. H. Schoff and published in 1912. Schoff fixed the date of text as 60 CE. The description of the voyage and the ports mentioned clearly shows a firsthand knowledge by someone familiar with the route taken and aware of trade practices and sea customs along the route. Erythraean in Greek means Red and therefore it is a guide book to the Red Sea; actually it was believed anything beyond the Egyptian coast was part of Red Sea.
The book comprises 66 paragraphs and starting from Egyptian Mussel harbor the first 37paras deal with Arabian Coast and open sea. From 38th Para till the end it is all about Indian Coast. It is remarkable how deeply the author has studied the coast and most of the trade practices and local customs. The work can be compared with evidences available in Sangam Literature and other Indian works of similar time.
It is remarkable how the South Indian ports are fully noted in the correct sequence in the coast and the practices that were followed in those areas.
About the Speaker:
Born in Berhampur Orissa, Narasiah, a marine engineer by profession who has spent 14 years at sea sailing, 10 of which in men-of-war and the rest in merchantmen. He spent some time in Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast while Vikrant, the first Aircraft Carrier of India was fitted out and took over as its first flight deck Chief.While in Port service his services were requisitioned by the Navy for Bangladesh Liberation.
After sea service he joined the Port of Vizag as a marine Engineer and retire as its Chief Mechanical Engineer. He was a consultant with the World Bank for Cambodian Emergency Rehabilitation work from 1994 to 1996. .He writes both in Tamil and English and is passionate about marine History.
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