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Long Distance Arab Shipping in the 9th Century Indian Ocean:Recent Shipwreck Evidence from Southeast Asia
The present article examines two of the earliest shipwrecks and their cargoes belonging to long distance trade recovered in Southeast Asia as a key to understanding the radical changes that were taking place in the Indian Ocean around the beginning of the 9th century CE. The Belitung (Tang) shipwreck was reported in 1998, in the western Java Sea. In 2014, a second Arab dhow was discovered, in the saturated landscape of reclaimed mangrove on the northern shore of the Gulf of Thailand. Both proved to be of seminal importance: the Belitung cargo consisted of the largest assemblage of late Tang era artefacts ever recovered, whilst the Phanom Surin shipwreck revealed the first finding of Gulf storage jars in Southeast Asia, and the first Pallavi inscription recorded from the region. These are the only securely recorded instances of medieval ships of West Asian design and probable origin being recovered archaeologically in Southeast Asia.
Arab Dhow, Belitung, Pahlavi Inscription, Phanom Surin, Srivijaya.
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