Links with China

Authored by: Bing Zhao , Dashu Qin

The Swahili World

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138913462
eBook ISBN: 9781315691459
Adobe ISBN:


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In 166 ce, a diplomatic mission sent by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (r. 161–180 ce) sailed to the Vietnamese peninsula, and then travelled overland to Luoyang (Henan Province), capital of the Chinese Han Dynasty. Among the gifts brought by the mission were rhinoceros horns, elephant tusks and hawksbill turtles (The History of the Later Han Dynasty, Zhonghua shuju, 1965 Ed.: 2920). Scholars believe today that these goods were collected from the northern part of eastern Africa (northern coasts and nearby regions of today’s Somalia and northern Kenya). Furthermore, a diplomatic mission from the ports of Moka and Adulis reached China early in the year 101 ce (The History of the Later Han Dynasty, Zhonghua shuju, 1965 Ed.: 198). Situated on the western shore of the Red Sea within the territory of modern Eritrea, the port of Adulis was the largest entrepôt for ivory, jewels, incense, metals and grain in the Red and Arabian Sea regions. Adulis was at that time an active hub for trade networks connecting the Roman Empire and the East. It was from this port that African goods were traded to the Persian Gulf or India and transported to China both by sea and overland.

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