Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Maritime trade route between India and Europe

GS Paper  1

 Syllabus: Ancient History


Source: IE

 Context: The article is related to the recently launched India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEE-EC), from a historical point of view. Check the next article for IMEE-EC


What is the Red Sea Route?

The Red Sea route refers to an ancient maritime trade route that connected India with the Roman Empire through the Red Sea.

  • This route facilitated the exchange of various goods, including luxuries like spices, ivory, pearls, gemstones, and pepper from India to the Roman Empire.


About the Red Sea Route:

Indian Trade Contribution to the Roman Empire’s IncomeCustom taxes from Red Sea trade may have covered one-third of Roman income
Trade Goods ExchangedLuxuries, spices, ivory, pearls, precious gemstones, pepper, wild animals, and more
Importance of Indian PepperPepper was India’s major export and was highly sought after in Rome
Importance of the route
Chinese silk reached Rome through India’s ports, emphasizing India’s historical importance
Recent excavations in places like Muziris and Berenike have contributed to understanding the trade
India’s centrality in trade and the spread of ideas during the 1st and 2nd centuries CE is recognized


About Red Sea:

 The Red Sea is an inlet of the Indian Ocean located between Africa and Asia. It is one of the most saline bodies of water globally. Bordering countries include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti. It connects to the Indian Ocean in the south through the Bab el Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, it is bordered by the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez, leading to the Suez Canal. The Red Sea occupies a part of the Great Rift Valley, known as the Afro-Arabian Rift Valley.


Why is it called “Red Sea”? 

The Red Sea is not red in appearance; it typically has blue-green water. One theory suggests that a cyanobacteria called Trichodesmium erythraeum, a red-colored algae, may occasionally turn the water reddish-brown during seasonal algal blooms. Another theory links the name to Asiatic languages that use colours to denote cardinal directions, with “red” possibly representing “south.”