Early Indian Ocean exchange is often characterized as a straightforward precursor to the colonial and post-colonial trade of the modern era. In particular, it is perceived as dominated by urbanized and state-level societies, supporting standard core-periphery models for the emergence of early long-distance trade. This view is a natural outcome of the tendency to privilege historical texts over other types of data, as well as to concentrate archaeological effort on urbanized port sites and the manufactured commodities of complex states. Yet another view of the Indian Ocean emerges when attention is instead devoted to biological evidence from region, including the evidence from plants, animals and humans shaped by Indian Ocean exchange networks. This evidence stresses the role of small-scale societies, and shifts attention away from cores to what James Scott has referred to as “a world of peripheries”.
Source and further information:
Max-Planck-Institut für ethnologische Forschung,
http://web.eth.mpg.de/data_export/events/7584/event_details_1473472360.html (10 January 2019).