The InterAsia Initiative Online Lecture presents
Professor Elizabeth Lambourn, Material Histories, De Montfort University:
“Sweet water on the sea route to China. Forgotten technologies of mobility in the Indian Ocean world.”
Availability of sweet water was the foundation stone of maritime provisioning - and, by implication, route planning - on all but the shortest voyages. Without it, maritime trade and all other forms of seaborne exchange and circulation were effectively impossible, yet water sources and technologies of transportation have been comparatively neglected in Indian Ocean scholarship. This paper weaves data from the ninth century section of an Arabic merchant manual, the Akhbār al-sīn wa-l-hind (Accounts of China and India) with recent shipwreck evidence to examine technologies of water transportation and to propose some preliminary quantitative estimates of the volumes circulating onboard vessels at the time.