Ep. 011.5 – The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea is an anonymous work written by a Greek Egyptian in the first century BCE. The work is a 68-chapter description of the coastlines around the Indian Ocean, with descriptions of the major port cities, the goods that could be had at each port, and much more. It’s directly connected to Roman trade in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, but it really does give us a good idea of the region as a whole, so it makes sense to introduce it early in our history here.

It's a longer episode than normal, which I hope you don't mind. My only other item of note is to warn you that the Periplus is packed full of strange city and region names, the names of kings and rulers, and other things from history. I know that I slaughtered the pronunciations in many places, so I apologize in advance. Maybe someday if I can learn Greek and Latin it won't be an issue 🙂 Until then, though, please enjoy the episode!

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Here is a free copy of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea along with a substantial amount of commentary and elaboration on the names, cities, kings, and items mentioned throughout the Periplus.


Also, follow this link to see an html map of the region covered by the Periplus, along with an animation to show the route a ship would have taken and the months of the year it would have been at the various points of its journey. City and region names are linked to a text of the Periplus, if you want to follow along with the reading.



This map provides locations for many of the places mentioned in the Periplus.


A 17th Century cartographer's map depicting the locations mentioned in The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.

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