2012 Abstracts (Summaries)
A Comparative Analysis of the Roman and Portuguese Pepper Trade
A comparison of the pepper trade in the ancient and early modern eras allows insights that might otherwise be missed during the individual analysis of Indian trade in each time period. The abundant and rich documentation of the early modern period helps to clarify the rarer and more controversial ancient documents, which in their turn demonstrate the chronological depth of a phenomenon so clearly observable in the modern age. For instance, information obtained from early modern travelogues helps both to define the geographical, ecological and anthropological context of surplus Malabar pepper production and to decipher the cryptic references to production in the classical literature. What emerges is that, from antiquity to modernity, trade depended less on the pepper harvested by the low caste people in the small gardens of the coastal areas than on the pepper collected by the tribal people in the highland forests of the Ghats.
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