The Indian Ocean was among the first maritime spaces of human circulation and exchange but it is also one of the least well researched. We still know surprisingly little about the Indian Ocean world before the late 15th century CE when European powers – Portuguese, Spanish, English, Dutch and others – first sailed into this ocean.
This website presents some of the new research that is being undertaken at universities and museums around the world into the early history of the Indian Ocean and its connections to the ocean we know today. The research presented here focuses on a 9th century legal document which was written at the port of Kollam in present-day Kerala in 849 CE. In South Asia, even until very recently, legal documents were inscribed onto copper sheets. Known as copper plate grants, these are one of the main sources for early and medieval Indian history.