Trade in the Indian Ocean

Timeline created by taylorp97
In History
  • 4,000 BCE

    Ancient Fishing Boats

    Ancient Fishing Boats
    This type of dugout, a flat-bottomed boat used for setting out from the coast, could be used with or without a sail, and may have been in use from 5000 BCE. These boats might have an outrigger for stability, and might be made of planks or a single log. These were the oldest fishing craft, or were used for lighting (unloading boats anchored offshore).
    (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • 2,600 BCE

    Official beginning of Indian Ocean Trade

    The Indian Ocean trade routes connected Southeast Asia, India, Arabia, and East Africa. Another major export item along the classical Indian Ocean trade routes was religious thought. Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism spread from India to Southeast Asia. Islam would later spread the same way from the 700s CE on. Szczepanski, K. (n.d.). Indian Ocean Trade Routes. Retrieved from
  • 2,600 BCE

    Maritime trade network

    There was an extensive maritime trade network operating between the Harappan and Mesopotamian civilizations as early as the middle Harappan Phase (2600-1900 BCE). Neyland, R. S. (1992). "The seagoing vessels on Dilmun seals". In Keith, D.H.; Carrell T.L. (eds.). Underwater archaeology proceedings of the Society for Historical Archaeology Conference at Kingston, Jamaica 1992. Tucson, AZ: Society for Historical Archaeology. pp. 68–74.
  • 2,000 BCE

    Indian Ocean gyre

    While the Indian Ocean gyre has always existed, it was around this time that travelers began to understand how to travel on the Indian Ocean, while avoiding the wild currents and monsoons that came with it.
    Tomczak, Matthias & J. Stuart Godfrey: Regional Oceanography: and Introduction 2nd Edition. (2003). ISBN 8170353068
    Plane Search Shows World's Oceans Are Full of Trash. National Geographic.
  • 1,500 BCE

    Decline in trade

    Portugal invaded and tried to run the trade for its own profit.
    (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • 1,500 BCE

    Austronesian maritime trade network

    The first true maritime trade network in the Indian Ocean was by the Austronesian peoples of Island Southeast Asia, who built the first ocean-going ships.
    Manguin, Pierre-Yves (2016). "Austronesian Shipping in the Indian Ocean: From Outrigger Boats to Trading Ships". In Campbell, Gwyn (ed.). Early Exchange between Africa and the Wider Indian Ocean World. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 51–76. ISBN 9783319338224.
  • 1,400 BCE

    Zheng He

    Zheng He was a Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat, fleet admiral, and court eunuch during China's early Ming dynasty. Zheng commanded expeditionary treasure voyages to Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Western Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433.
    Dreyer, Edward L. (2007). Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the Early Ming, 1405–1433. Library of World Biography. New York: Pearson Longman. ISBN 978-0-321-08443-9.
  • 1,300 BCE

    Ibn Battuta

    Ibn Battuta was a Muslim Berber Moroccan scholar, and explorer who widely traveled the medieval world. He took an account of his journeys, titled A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Traveling. He traveled more than any other explorer in distance, totaling around 117,000 km.
    Dunn, Ross E. (2005), The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-24385-9
    ‘’Pioneers of Modern Science’’, 2019, Istanbul
  • -700 BCE


    Srivijaya was a Indonesian empire based on the island of Sumatra. Due to its location, this state developed technology using maritime resources. Its economy became reliant on the trade in the region, thus transforming it into a prestige goods-based economy.
    Munoz, Paul Michel (2006). Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet. p. 171. ISBN 981-4155-67-5.
    Laet, Sigfried J. de; Herrmann, Joachim (1994). History of Humanity. Routledge.
  • -600 BCE

    Polaris navigation

    Phoenician sailors stayed on the correct route by observing the location of Polaris, called the 'Phoenician Star' by ancient writers. Polaris good indicator of the direction north. Along with knowledge of winds and ocean currents, Polaris navigation allowed the Phoenicians to sail long distances and trade with many foreign cultures.
    (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • -600 BCE


    Dhow is a number of sailing vessels with settee or lateen sails, used in the Indian Ocean region. Dhows are trading vessels primarily used to carry items, such as fruit or fresh water along the coasts of Arabia, East Africa, Yemen and coastal South Asia.
    Briggs, Philip. "Dhows of the Swahili coast". Zanzibar Travel Guide. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
    "The History & construction of the dhow". Nabataea. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
    Bowen, Richard Lebaron (1949). "Arab Dhows of Eastern Arabia"
  • -550 BCE

    Achaemenid Empire

    Start of Persia's involvement in Indian Ocean trade. Persian jewels sparkled in Mauryan settings. (Szczepanski, K., n.d.). Their routes between Indonesia, Madagascar, and East Africa are sometimes referred to as the 'Cinnamon Route.'
    Szczepanski, K. (n.d.). Indian Ocean Trade Routes. Retrieved from
  • -510 BCE

    Scylax of Caryanda

    Scylax of Caryanda made a voyage into the Indian Ocean from 510-515 BCE. He went exploring for the riches of India and wanted to discover the mouth of the Indus River. He was famous for this voyage, and brought news of these regions that encouraged trade expeditions. Scylax later wrote a handbook for mariners, and was mentioned by Herodotus the Greek historian.
    (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • -326 BCE


    An explorer and officer in the navy of Alexander the Great who was ordered to build a naval fleet to take part of the army back to Babylonia. The first obstacle facing the fleet were winds blowing in the wrong direction--they were unaware of the monsoon wind patterns.
    (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • -324 BCE

    Mauryan Empire

    Start of India's trade involvement on the Indian Ocean. Roman coins mingled in Indian treasuries. Persian jewels sparkled in Mauryan settings. (Szczepanski, K., n.d.).
    Szczepanski, K. (n.d.). Indian Ocean Trade Routes. Retrieved from
  • -220 BCE


    The Astrolabe is an elaborate inclinometer, and can be considered an analog calculator capable of working out several different kinds of problems in astronomy. Historically used by astronomers and navigators to measure the altitude above the horizon of a celestial body, day or night, it can be used to identify stars or planets, to determine local latitude given local time (and vice versa), to survey, or to triangulate.
  • -202 BCE

    Han Dynasty

    Start of China's trade involvement on the Indian Ocean. Silk from China graced Roman aristocrats. (Szczepanski, K., n.d.).
    Szczepanski, K. (n.d.). Indian Ocean Trade Routes. Retrieved from
  • -200 BCE

    Sri Lanka

    an island off the coast of India which has long been a central part of the Indian Ocean trade networks. Thanks to its location linking the eastern and western parts of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka became a major port and stopping point for merchants from places as distant as Rome, Africa, Persia, and East Asia.
    (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • -200 BCE


    Barygaza was a port on the west coast of India near the mouth of the Narmuda River. Merchants brought goods to Barygaza for export, such as semiprecious gems, textiles, medicinal and aromatic herbs. Barygaza imported wine, metals, gems, glass, and silver coins.
    (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • -200 BCE

    Junk (ship)

    A junk is a type of Chinese sailing ship with fully battened sails. They were usually cargo ships, pleasure boats, or houseboats.
    Crossley, Pamela Kyle, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, and David Northrup. "Song Dynasty." The Earth and Its Peoples. By Richard W. Bulliet. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. 279–80. Print.
    Mudie, Rosemary; Mudie, Colin (1975), The history of the sailing ship, Arco Publishing Co., p. 152
  • -100 BCE


    Muziris was an ancient port city in today's Indian state of Kerala. It was a famous trading market for Roman-Indian trade in southern India.
    (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • -33 BCE

    Roman Empire

    Start of the Roman Empires involvement in Indian Ocean trade through the Mediterranean Sea in which they initially began. Silk from China graced Roman aristocrats and Roman coins mingled in Indian treasuries (Szczepanski, K., n.d.). The three main Roman ports involved with eastern trade were Arsinoe, Berenice and Myos Hormos.
    Szczepanski, K. (n.d.). Indian Ocean Trade Routes. Retrieved from