Please join us for a lecture by Dr. Sethuraman Suresh (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) on March 8, 2018, at 7:00 pm. Dr. Suresh’s talk is “West Meets East: Commerce between Rome and South Asia.”
AIA-SC collaborates regularly with the College of Charleston’s program in Archaeology and Departments of Classics and Art History. Lectures are held on the C. of C. campus in the Simons Center for the Arts, Room 309. Parking is available close by in two city-owned garages on St. Philip and Wentworth streets.
About the talk: The Roman Republic (second-first century B.C.E.) and later, the Roman Empire under Augustus, Tiberius (first century C.E.) and their successors had commercial relations with the kingdoms of South Asia, primarily India and Sri Lanka. These trade links, flourished for around six hundred years and, in due course, extended to diplomatic relations and even cultural interactions. The height of the contacts was, however, unquestionably in the first two centuries C.E. The Romans procured gemstones (chiefly beryl or aquamarine), textiles (silk and cotton), ivory, aromatic woods, spices (primarily pepper and cardamom) and peacocks from South Asia. In return, Rome exported wine as well as metals such as gold, silver, copper and antimony to South Asia. The evidences for these contacts include the limited but significant references to the trade in ancient Greek, Latin, Tamil and Sanskrit literature and the recurrent discoveries of Roman coins, ceramics and a few other types of Roman objects in different parts of India and adjoining regions. The archaeological evidences within Europe are very meager mainly because of the nature of the commerce—most of the trade goods (spices, textiles, ivory, peacocks) reaching Europe were perishable commodities that have not survived for archaeology.
Based on extensive field research in South Asia and Europe, this lecture unfolds the little-known story of the Rome-South Asia contacts. The presentation takes you on a unique voyage across the places through which the Romans travelled in India and the interesting things—coins, ceramics, sculptures –that they left behind in those sites.
About the speaker: Dr. Sethuraman Suresh is an archaeologist and art historian. Dr. Suresh is a prolific author, energetic scholar, and tireless advocate for the preservation of cultural heritage in India. You can read more about his education and career here.