Friday, March 04, 2005

Recapping the Timeline VII

The northern trade along the south coast of Asia eventually became the main route by which the clove flower bud was brought. By medieval times at least, this network appeared under the control of the Dragon and Bird Clan.

Originally, the Nusantao would have controlled this trade route all the way to the ports of Sumer bringing fragrant wood and other products from Dilmun. Eventually though they ceded the western half of the route to Indian merchants.

The tin that fueled the Bronze Age almost certainly came via this direction. No other adequate sources of tin have been found to support even recovered ancient bronze artifacts, which could make up only a fraction of the real total. The Southeast Asian tin was alluvial and thus easily available in massive quantities.

Tin is mentioned as coming via the Dilmun ships in Sumerian literature, and the Old Testament mentions vessels coming from Ophir carrying tin as part of their cargo. The latter ships, taking three years to complete their journey, were also said to carry almug wood, used in building the Temple of Israel. This may correspond to the fragrant timber brought from Dilmun mentioned in Sumerian texts.

Gold was another important product brought along this route, so much so that the source became known in India as Suvarnadvipa the "Islands of Gold."

The southern maritime trail across the Indian Ocean became the main corridor for the cinnamon trade. This route opens up after the Nusantao begin to master long transoceanic voyages. Again by medieval times it is apparent that the Fallen Angel camp is mainly in control of this network.

Cinnamon, cassia, aloeswood, lemon grass and tortoise shell are among some of the important products brought along this route. Cargo landed on the African coast mostly at the port known to the ancient Greeks as Rhapta, in present day Tanzania. From there they fanned out in all directions including northward to ports along the eastern African coast all the way to Egypt.

In ancient times, Rhapta was probably the port known to the Pharaohs as Punt. On the walls of the New Kingdom temple of Deir el-Bahri we see paintings of rolled sticks of cinnamon and cassia among the products brought from that city.

This early trade was probably responsible for the presence of the outrigger canoe with lateen sail and many other cultural items found along the eastern African coast. Generally the Greeks were unsure of where the cinnamon and other spices along this route came from, but the geographer Pliny does seem to have been given some clue. He mentions traders undertaking long dangerous journeys over the sea that took up to five years to complete.

When the Muslims arrived on the scene, they found the Nusantao firmly established and the trade still going strong. The island of Madagascar had even been settled by these long-range merchants. Ships from Wakwak and Zabag continued to visit sailing for about a year to reach the African coast from their home ports.

At this time, I have suggested that the empire known as Sanfotsi to the Chinese and Zabag to the Muslims, represented the Dragon and Bird Clan.

To their southeast was the sea empire (thalossocracy) known as Toupo to the Chinese and Wakwak to the Muslims, which in my view represented the Fallen Angel camp in medieval times.

When the Muslims first arrived on the scene, the Dragon and Bird Clan was maybe at its all-time height, but it's southern neighbor was rising quickly and would become a threat before long.

The evidence of the power of the Fallen Angels comes in the report, from more than one source, of a fleet of 1,000 ships that sailed to eastern Africa in the 10th century. If the reports were accurate, this would have been the largest historically-recorded maritime expedition up to that time.

Paul Kekai Manansala