A long time ago, I became fascinated with the story of Sighelm the ealdorman and whether he ever made it to India.
This minor obsession broadened into a wider fascination with early travel and a possible pilgrim route via the Gulf, allowing pilgrims from India to sail to the Gulf and then travel overland to Jerusalem.
And of course the same route would allow merchants to travel to Constantinople and Damascus.
Now there comes news of the identification of an early (pre-Islamic) Christian site in Bahrain, which helps reinforce my argument that there (a) was a reasonably sized Christian community in the Gulf and (b) provided a route for pilgrims from India to travel to the middle east.
These pilgrims of course would have taken ship, which implies an alternative trade route via the Gulf to the monsoonal route via the horn of Africa to south India and Sri Lanka.
These days, we tend to forget the importance of the trade across the Arabian sea, but it’s worth remembering that one of the first major military actions by the East India Company was the capture of a Portuguese fort on the Straits of Hormuz in 1622, thus opening the Gulf to trade with England …