Indian Ocean Trade & Network Development

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In History
  • -600 BCE

    The qanat system (irrigation)

    The qanat system was developed in Iran and was spread by the Indian Ocean trade route. The qanat system is a series of tunnels and canals that transport ground water to fields for irrigational purposes.
  • -500 BCE

    Exporting of Cinnamon

    The Indian Ocean trade route allowed for the exported of cinnamon from Asia (most likely India) to other civilizations. It became popular due to its luxurious scent and was used for incense and cooking.
  • -500 BCE

    Export & Farming of Bananas

    Bananas were brought to east Africa by the Polynesians. It is thought that the introduction and farming of the banana played a role in the movement of the Bantu people.
  • -500 BCE

    Movement of the Bantu people

    The Indian served as the trade route of the banana and possibly caused the movement of the Bantu people. With this movement came the spread of their language. Over time different dialects evolved and now over 500 languages seen in Africa can be traced back to the original Bantu language.
  • -430 BCE

    Smallpox outbreak in Athens

    The Indian Ocean trade route played a role in the transmission of disease. Athens suffered a smallpox pandemic in 430 BCE that killed approximately two-thirds of the population.
  • -350 BCE

    India Exports Pepper

    The Indian Ocean allowed for the trade pf pepper which became both a staple and a luxury item along the trade route.
  • -332 BCE

    Establishment of Alexandria

    The establishment of Alexandria played a major role in the Indian Ocean trade route. It served as a hub for international trade and exported goods such fine Roman attire made from processed cotton and silk, and incense.
  • -326 BCE

    Eudoxus of Cyzicus

    Eudoxus was a Greek explorer who is one of the first recorded sailors to travel the monsoon wind system in the Indian Ocean. His first journey brought back aromatics and precious stones but he did not return from his second voyage and it is thought that he died on this expedition.
  • -325 BCE


    Nearchus was a military general that served under Alexander the Great. He successfully led an expedition starting at the Indus River in the hopes of finding a route to the near east. His success opened up more opportunities for trade by way of the Indian Ocean.
  • -323 BCE

    Ptolomies learn of the monsoon season in the Indian Ocean

    In the Ptolemaic empire, mariners studied and figured out the monsoon system patterns and as a result found when it was safe to travel the Indian Ocean leading to more successful trade.
  • -300 BCE

    Frankincense and Myrhh

    Frankincense and myrhh were luxury items that contributed to the success of the Indian Ocean trade route. They were popularized during the Roman Empire and were evidence of status and wealth.
  • -240 BCE

    Ashoka's support of Buddhism

    Emperor Ashoka was the third ruler of the Mauryan empire and was a convert of Buddhism. He sent out Buddhist missionaries which played a large role in the spread of Buddhism.
  • -27 BCE

    Expansion of Trade Due to the Pax Romana

    Under the rule of Augustus Caesar, period of peace known as the Pax Romana occured. This peace fostered stability that allowed trade to grow and expand.
  • 73

    The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea

    A book written by a merchant that served as a guide to trade and travel of the Indian Ocean.
  • 165

    Antonine Plague Spread By the Huns

    The Antonine Plague took the lives of many and began with the huns. The infection spread and later went on to affect the Roman Empire.
  • 312

    Constantine's Conversion to Christianity

    Emperor Constantine's conversion and endorsement of Christianity resulted in a gradual increase in Christians over the following centuries.
  • 320

    Beginning of the Gupta Empire and the Spread of Hinduism

    During the Gupta Empire, emperors used Hinduism as a way to unify their people and as a result helped to spread the influence of Hinduism.
  • Period:
    1,000 BCE
    -1 BCE

    Phoenicians Navigate the Indian Ocean By Polaris

    The Phoenicians were skilled mariners and navigators and have been credited with the discovery of using the constellation Polaris to navigate through the Indian Ocean.
  • Period:
    -700 BCE
    -100 BCE


    Located in the Ethiopian highlands, Aksum linked the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean Trade network. Aksum also took advantage of its successful iron industry in terms of trade and was able to thrive during the collapse of the Roman Empire due to their minted coinage.
  • Period:
    -600 BCE

    The Dhow Ship

    The dhow ship was a sailing vessel used on the Indian Ocean trade route and was proficient in transporting heavy cargo. A lateen sail was typically paired with the dhow and created a very efficient mode of travel.
  • Period:
    -510 BCE
    -515 BCE

    Scylax of Caryanda

    Scylax encouraged trade expeditions of the Indian Ocean after going on an exploratory voyage for King Darius of Persia.