I’ve already written about pre european contacts in Australia between the indigenous inhabitants and the populations of south east asia. Now, from South Africa a report on a dig at a pre-colonial smithy, which is interesting because among the trade objects found, they found glass beads from Asia – a long way from the high veldt of South Africa.
What of course it implies is a trade network, and one which ran down the coast of Africa from Somalia to the southern tip of Africa and one which extended across the Indian Ocean to India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia.
We’ve already had the Kilwa coins found on the Wessel islands – while I still incline to theory that they got there in someone’s lucky bag of trinkets, the excavations in South Africa makes it even more likely that there was direct trade between at the very least South Asia (India, Sri Lanka) and the various African polities – something suggested by the paintings of black concubines at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka.
It also quite clearly makes the point that when the first early modern voyagers rounded the Cape at the end of the fifteenth century they sailed into an existing trade network – the age of discovery was only an age of discovery for the Portuguese and the gentlement of the English Guinea company, not for the populations of the Indian Ocean …
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