Tamil University, Thanjavur
Internal Trade and Exchange Network and the Ports of Ancient Tamizhakam
The southern part of the peninsular India, otherwise known as Ancient Tamizhakam in the Early Historic period (ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE), comprised the modern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This region witnessed brisk cultural and commercial activities in the Early Historic period as part of the Indian Ocean trade and exchange processes. Numerous commercial and port towns such as Muciri, Tondi, Korkai, Algankulam, Kaveripoompattinam and Arikamedu emerged on the coastal region of Ancient Tamizhakam. These towns saw the movement of people, and exchange of goods, and ideas from the entire Indian Ocean region; but the importance of Roman trade was significant. The coastal towns were multifunctional and often acted as ports, markets, manufacturing centres, and occasionally as political and religious centres. Apart from the overseas trade/exchange that made the coasts of this region culturally vibrant, a lot of cultural and commercial activities took place within the hinterland too. This paper focuses on the patterns of internal exchange, nature of the port towns and hinterland centres, and the connections among them, and the trade routes of ancient Tamizhakam.