The Indian Ocean trade was efficient sea-based trade routes that brought not only various good but also ideas and cultural diversities. It dates back to as early as 2000 BCE and continued being used for centuries after. Indian ocean trade remained relatively peaceful, in spite of this the kingdoms and religions that dominated the region changed frequently. The kingdoms and people involved with the Indian Ocean trade changed frequently between 2000 BCE and 1450.
The Indian Ocean trade started as early as Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley civilizations, though it was only small scale trade it continues to evolve. several centuries later Alexander the great and the Roman Empire used the these routes to trade down the Red Sea. On the other side of the Indian Ocean Malay sailors used the waters to trade with the islands along Indonesia. Trade flourished from 1000 – 1500 for several reasons, the sudden rise of islam in the seventh century and the revival of China.
The Abbasid Caliphate allowed a more centralized political system whereas the Chinese revival lead to a better economic system which ultimately means more money for trading and ship building. Another new addition that added to the success of Indian Ocean trade was the monsoon winds. People were able to predict the right weathers to sail in making trade easier and less dangerous. trade diminished slightly after 1200 because land trade was opened up more by the Mongols but quickly spiked back up in the 14th and 15th century.
Another sudden change occurred when the Abbasid Caliphate started falling and Portugal took control of the major trade city Swahili around 1500. One reason why there were so many different changes in the empires and people who dominated them was the fact of how long and peaceful the trade was. Despite all the different people involved with Indian Ocean trade, its lasted for centuries and surprisingly stayed relatively peaceful. this continuity happened because of several different factors. One is because of how Islamic culture didn’t spread through violence but because it was voluntary.
For a long period of time Indian Ocean trade was dominated by Muslim merchants and with this came Islamic religion, culture and ideas. Another reason why it stayed so composed was because it was sea-based and was considered neutral territory by afro-asian people, so no conquest occurred. While trade was generally peaceful, the different religions that dominated the region changed quite frequently as well. Early on when the Roman Empire controlled what little of the Indian Ocean trade there was, the dominant religion was christianity.
This did not stay the same for very long though when the Muslim merchants took over the vast majority of the trade and spread it out farther. In fact, a large amount of the Islamic population now resides in Indonesia. Along with Islam there was also many Hindu and Buddhist practices that were being spread along the sea. Christianity did in fact try to worm its way back when the Crusades were launched around 1000-1200 to destroy the Islamic Empire and take back the Holy Land, ultimately the crusades ended up being a failure and Europe was still left out of the Indian Ocean trade.
Indian Ocean trade experienced many changes and continuities between 2000 BCE and 1450. A Continuity being the peaceful environment it maintained throughout time, whereas a the people and religions involved with the trade changed frequently. These changes and Continuities were largely affected by the mongols and even the crusades. The Indian Ocean Trade routes provided a safe way for various items, ideas, and new technology to travel effectively across the sea.