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New Horizons in Trade History

Pelagic Passageways: The Northern Bay of Bengal before Colonialism edited by Rila Mukherjee (Delhi: Primus Books), 2011; pp xv + 502, Rs 1,395.

In 1498, a Portuguese mariner Vasco da Gama reached Calicut, a seaport on the Malabar coast. He was the first European mariner to complete the journey from Europe to India via the Cape of Good Hope. By doing so he demonstrated that it was possible for western European merchants to reach India without having to travel overland in west Asia, a hostile route for a number of reasons. In little over a century following this event, first the Portuguese and later the English and the Dutch established trade links between Europe and Asia. In the late 17th century, other nations joined the contest for a share in Indian Ocean trade. The records left by these traders revealed a world of commerce in the seaboard societies of southern Asia that were older and bigger than European trade in the Atlantic Ocean.

Indian Ocean Trade

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