The Periplus of The Erythraean Sea
An insight into the history of the East African coast around 100 to 300 AD
A 'Periplus' is an ordered record listing a sea voyage. The document includes information on coastal features and landmarks, ports, local populations, trade goods imported and exported, distances, winds, best months to travel, and other interesting points of note that the author deemed worthy of inclusion in this guide to a sea route.
The author of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea is unkown. The document is belevied to have been written some time between 100 and 200 AD by an Egyptian merchant who could read and write Greek.
The document is a numbered list of 66 paragraphs. The first 18 describe the route from Egypt south along the East African coast as far as southern Tanzania. The remainder of the manuscript goes on to give information of a voyage from Egypt, west along the Arabian Peninsula and across the Persian Gulf to the Indian coastline.
For those interested in early history of trade along the East African coast - reading the first 18 paragraphs gives a taste as to the nature of the ports merchant ships would visit, the goods that would be traded, and the local people they came across along the way.
This document is one of the only written records of the East African coast before the Islam pilgrims began moving south along the coast after the death of The Prophet in 632 AD.