Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Spice and rice: pepper, cloves and everyday cereal foods at the ancient port of Mantai, Sri Lanka

  • Eleanor Kingwell-Banham (a1), Wijerathne Bohingamuwa (a2), Nimal Perera (a3), Gamini Adikari (a4), Alison Crowther (a5), Dorian Q Fuller (a1) and Nicole Boivin (a6)...
Abstract

Lying on the north-west coast of Sri Lanka, the ancient port of Mantai was ideally situated as a ‘hub’ for trade between East and West from the first millennium BC onwards. Excavations at the site were interrupted by civil war in 1984, delaying publication of these results and leading to the underestimation of Mantai's importance in the development of Early Historic Indian Ocean trade. Renewed excavations in 2009–2010 yielded extensive archaeobotanical remains, which, alongside an improved understanding of the site's chronology, provide important new insights into the development of local and regional trade routes and direct evidence for early trade in the valuable spices upon which later empires were founded.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Spice and rice: pepper, cloves and everyday cereal foods at the ancient port of Mantai, Sri Lanka
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Spice and rice: pepper, cloves and everyday cereal foods at the ancient port of Mantai, Sri Lanka
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Spice and rice: pepper, cloves and everyday cereal foods at the ancient port of Mantai, Sri Lanka
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence (Email: e.kingwell-banham.09@ucl.ac.uk)
References
Hide All
Ball, T., Vrydaghs, L., van den Houwe, I., Manwaring, J. & Langhe, E. De. 2006. Differentiating banana phytoliths, wild and edible: Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. Journal of Archaeological Science 33: 1228–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2005.12.010
Bohingamuwa, W. 2017a. Ancient Mahatittha (Mantai) in Sri Lanka: a historical biography. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka 62(2): 2350.
Bohingamuwa, W. 2017b. Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean contacts: internal networks and external connections. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Oxford.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2017. Methods for summarizing radiocarbon datasets. Radiocarbon 59: 1809–33. https://doi.org/10.1017/RDC.2017.108
Cappers, R.T.J., Neef, R. & Becker, R.M.. 2009. Digital atlas of economic plants, volumes 1 and 2. Eelde: Barkhuis.
Carswell, J. 2013. Geographical and historical background, in Carswell, J., Deraniyagala, S. & Graham, A. (ed.) Mantai: city by the sea: 2138. Aichwald: Linden Soft.
Carswell, J., Deraniyagala, S. & Graham, A.. 2013. Mantai: city by the sea. Aichwald: Linden Soft.
Casson, L. 1989. Periplus Maris Erythraei: text with introduction, translation, and commentary. Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press.
Castillo, C. 2011. Rice in Thailand: the archaeobotanical contribution. Rice 4: 114–20. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12284-011-9070-2
Castillo, C.C., Tanaka, K., Sato, Y.-T., Bellina, B., Higham, C., Chang, N., Mohanty, R., Kajale, M. & Fuller, D.Q.. 2016. Archaeogenetic study of prehistoric rice remains from Thailand and India: evidence of early japonica in South and Southeast Asia. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 8: 523–43. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-015-0236-5
Cobb, M. 2018. Rome and the Indian Ocean trade from Augustus to the early third century CE. Leiden: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004376571
Coningham, R.A.E. & Gunawardhana, P.. 2013. Anuradhapura: volume 3: the hinterland (British Archaeological Reports International series 2568). Oxford: Archaeopress.
Coningham, R.A.E., Manuel, M.J. & Shoebridge, J.. 2016. Reconstructing networks of trade and exchange in the Indian Ocean during the Early Historic period: case studies from Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka), in Mathew, K.S. (ed.) Imperial Rome, Indian Ocean regions and Muziris. New perspectives on maritime trade: 3152. Abindgon: Routledge.
Coningham, R.A.E., Manuel, M.J., Davis, C.E. & Gunawardhana, P.. 2017. Archaeology and cosmopolitanism in Early Historic and medieval Sri Lanka, in Biedermann, Z. & Strathern, A. (ed.) Sri Lanka at the crossroads of history: 1943. London: UCL Press.
Dasgupta, A. 1982. Indian merchants and trade in the Indian Ocean, c. 1500–1700, in Habib, I. & Raychaudhuri, T. (ed.) The Cambridge economic history of India (volume 1, c. 1200–c. 1750): 407–33. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
De Silva, K.M. 2005. A history of Sri Lanka. London: Penguin.
Deraniyagala, S. 1990. The prehistoric chronology of Sri Lanka. Ancient Ceylon 12: 230–50.
Francis, P. 2013a. Western geographic knowledge of Sri Lanka and Mantai c. 325 B.C. to 1170 A.D., in Carswell, J., Deraniyagala, S. & Graham, A. (ed.) Mantai: city by the sea: 5360. Aichwald: Linden Soft.
Francis, P. 2013b. The beads, in Carswell, J., Deraniyagala, S. & Graham, A. (ed.) Mantai: city by the sea: 349–66. Aichwald: Linden Soft.
Fuller, D.Q. & Harvey, E.. 2006. The archaeobotany of Indian pulses: identification, processing and evidence for cultivation. Environmental Archaeology 11: 219–46. https://doi.org/10.1179/174963106x123232
Fuller, D.Q. & Madella, M.. 2001. Issues in Harappan archaeobotany: retrospect and prospect, in Settar, S. & Korisettar, R. (ed.) Indian archaeology in retrospect. Volume II. Protohistory: 317–90. New Delhi: Publications of the Indian Council for Historical Research.
Fuller, D.Q. & Madella, M.. 2009. Banana cultivation in South Asia and East Asia: a review of the evidence from archaeology and linguistics. Ethnobotany Research and Applications 7: 333–51. https://doi.org/10.17348/era.7.0.333-351
Fuller, D.Q., Qin, L., Zheng, Y., Zhao, Z., Chen, X., Hosoya, L.A. & Sun, G.-P.. 2009. The domestication process and domestication rate in rice: spikelet bases from the Lower Yangtze. Science 323: 1607–10. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1166605
Geiger, W. 1912. The Mahavamsa or the great chronicle of Ceylon. London: Pali Text Society.
Gupta, S. 2005. The Bay of Bengal interaction sphere (1000 BC–AD 500). Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association 25: 2130.
Kajale, M.D. 1990. Ancient plant economy from excavations at Mantai District, Mannar. Ancient Ceylon 11: 263–66.
Kajale, M.D. 2013. The archaeobotanic results, in Carswell, J., Deraniyagala, S.U., Graham, A.H. & Sri Lanka Pravidya Deartamentuva (ed.) Mantai: city by the sea: 505508. Aichwald: Linden Soft.
Kingwell-Banham, E. 2015. Early rice agriculture in South Asia. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University College London.
Kingwell-Banham, E. & Fuller, D.Q.. 2012. Shifting cultivators in South Asia: expansion, marginalisation and specialisation over the long term. Quaternary International 249: 8495. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2011.05.025
Mahdi, W. 1994. Some Austronesian maverick protoforms with culture-historic implications. Ocean Linguistics. 33: 167229. https://doi.org/10.2307/3623005
Mohanty, R.K. & Smith, M.L.. 2008. Excavations at Sisupalgarh, 2008 (Special Report 2). New Delhi: Indian Archaeological Society.
Morrison, K.D. & Lycett, M.T.. 2013. Forest products in a wider world: Early Historic connections across southern India, in Abraham, S.A., Gullapalli, P., Raczel, T.P. & Rizvi, U.Z. (ed.) Connections and complexity. New approaches to the archaeology of South Asia. Walnut Creek (CA): Left Coast.
Nicholas, C.W. 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon (volume 6). Colombo: Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon branch).
Pearsall, D.M., with contributions by Biddle, A., Chandler-Ezell, K., Collins, S., Duncan, N., Grimm, B., Hart, T., Logan, A., O'Brien, M., Stewart, S., Veintimilla, C. & Zhao, Z. 2018. Phytoliths in the flora of Ecuador: The University of Missouri Online Phytolith Database. Available at: http://phytolith.missouri.edu (accessed 23 October 2018).
Piperno, D.R. 2006. Phytoliths. A comprehensive guide for archaeologists and palaeoecologists. Lanham (MD): AltaMira.
Prickett-Fernando, M. 2003. Mantai-Mahatitha: the great port and entrepôt in the Indian Ocean trade, in Bandaranayake, S., Dewaraja, L., Silva, R. & Wimalaratne, K.D.G. (ed.) Sri Lanka and the Silk Road of the sea: 115–21. Colombo: Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO & The Central Cultural Fund.
Rackham, H. 1938. Pliny Natural history, volume 1: books 1–2 (Loeb Classical Library 330). Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.
Ray, H.P. 2003. The archaeology of seafaring in ancient South Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Reimer, P.J. et al. 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55: 1869–87. https://doi.org/10.2458/azu_js_rc.55.16947
Rosen, A.M. 1995. Phytolith evidence for Mousterian and Epipalaeolithic plant exploitation at Hayonim Cave, Israel. Paper presented at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archaeology, Minneapolis.
Saraswat, K.S. & Pokharia, A.K.. 2001–2002. Harappan plant economy at ancient Haryana. Pragdhara 12: 153–72.
Seneviratne, S. 2008. Situating world heritage sites in a multicultural society: the ideology of presentation at the sacred city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, in Liebmann, M. (ed.) Archaeology and the postcolonial critique: 177–96. Lanham (MD): Altamira.
Shinde, V. 1987. Mantai: an important settlement in north-west Sri Lanka. East and West 37: 327–36.
Silva, R. 1985. Mantai: a second Arikamedu? Antiquity 59: 4647. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X0005657X
Thapar, R. 1992. Black gold: South Asia and the Roman maritime trade. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 15(2): 127. https://doi.org/10.1080/00856409208723165
Tomber, R. 2008. Indo-Roman trade: from pots to pepper. Bristol: Bristol Classical.
Tripathi, S. & Vora, K.H.. 2005. Maritime heritage in and around Chilika Lake, Orissa. Current Science 88: 1175–81.
Tripathi, S., Patnaik, K. & Pradhan, G.O.. 2016. Maritime trade contacts of Odisha, in Mathew, K.S. (ed.) Imperial Rome, Indian Ocean regions and Muziris. New perspectives on maritime trade: 215–30. London: Routledge.
Turner, J. 2004. Spice: the history of a temptation. New York: Vintage.
Van der Veen, M. 2011. Consumption, trade and innovation: exploring the botanical remains from the Roman and Islamic ports of Quseir Al-Qadim, Egypt. Frankfurt: Africa Magna.
Vosmer, T. 2003. The naval architecture of Early Bronze Age reed-built boats of the Arabian Sea, in Potts, D.T., Naboodah, H.A. & Hellyer, P. (ed.) Archaeology of the United Arab Emirates: 151–60. Exeter: Trident.
Warmington, E.H. 1928. The commerce between the Roman Empire and India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zumbroich, T.J. 2012. From mouth fresheners to erotic perfumes: the evolving socio-cultural significant of nutmeg, mace and cloves in South Asia. eJournal of Indian medicine 5: 3797.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Kingwell-Banham et al. supplementary material
Kingwell-Banham et al. supplementary material 1

 Unknown (443 KB)
443 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed