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An Ecology of Trade: Tropical Asian Cultivars in the Ancient Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean

Muthukumaran, S; (2016) An Ecology of Trade: Tropical Asian Cultivars in the Ancient Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis offers an ecological reading of long distance trade in the ancient world by investigating the anthropogenic movement of tropical Asian crops from South Asia to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The crops under consideration include rice, cotton, citrus species, cucumbers, luffas, melons, lotus, taro and sissoo. The ‘tropicalisation’ of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean agriculture was a sluggish process but one that had a significant impact on the agricultural landscapes, production patterns, dietary habits and cultural identities of peoples across the Middle East and the Mediterranean by the end of the 1st millennium BCE. This process substantially predates the so-called tropical crop-driven ‘Agricultural Revolution’ of the early Islamic period posited by the historian Andrew Watson (1974-1983). The existing literature has, in fact, largely failed to appreciate the lengthy time-scale of this phenomenon whose origins lie in the Late Bronze Age. In order to contextualise the spread of tropical Asian crops to the Middle East and beyond, the history of crop movements is prefaced by a survey of long distance connectivity across maritime (Indian Ocean) and overland (Iranian plateau) routes from its prehistoric beginnings to the end of the 1st millennium BCE. This historical survey will highlight the variables (e.g. political processes, technological and social change) which made possible the ecological interface between South Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: An Ecology of Trade: Tropical Asian Cultivars in the Ancient Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Botanical History, Iron Age, Assyriology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1529305
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