The Romans in India
I am jumping ahead of myself a bit with this book on the history of Rome. That is to say, I am now just about to write the first page (I am determined that tomorrow will not end until I have actually got a file on my computer entitled "SPQRChap1" and some words in it). But I am also giving myself sme time looking at material for much later chapters.
So, when it comes to thinking about Rome's global reach, I have in mind discussing Roman trade with India. And I am wanting to get some good material to illustrate that. Now, I've read (and thought) quite a bit about the Roman idea of India and the East (and, of course, from another point of view, I know all those clichés about how nineteenth-century British historians imposed their own assumptions about British rule in India on their understanding of the nature of Roman imperialism -- often a bit too seductively simple an imposition, if you ask me).
But what I am now interested in (and what I've never really got to grips with before) are the actual traces of Roman on the ground in India. I've done the basic reading, but what next?
There are, indeed, rather more of those traces than I had realised (I must confess). That coin at the top of this post is Roman second century AD, found in India, with an Indian countermark on it (between the standing figures of Jupiter and the emperor). There is the famous site of Arikamedu, which for part of its history clearly functioned as a Roman-Indian trading port. It was first excavated by Mortimer Wheeler, and has recently been re-explored by Vimala Begley. And in 2011 there was a brief exhibition in Chennai of some of the Roman coins and other artefacts from their museum collection (apparently Chennai museum has more Roman coins -- over 4000 of them -- than any other museum outside Europe).
So I'm now planning a visit, but I'm not quite sure where to go -- where I can see some of the Roman stuff and sites on public display (I'm not yet on top of the subject enough to ask for special academic access -- I'm being touristic to be honest). Obviously Chennai is a must, plus Arikamedu. But where else?
This blog is a bit of a cry for help. Has anybody seen any good Roman displays when they have been in South India? Do let me know.