Did the Nabataeans of Arabia ever trade with China? If they did, did they trade directly with mainland China, or was it through Asian or Indian middlemen? Or did Nabataean sailors meet Chinese merchants at a midway point, such as Sri Lanka?
In order to answer these questions, it is important to understand what was taking place in China during the Nabataean era. (See An Overview of Chinese History) It is also important to understand that many historians believe that an active maritime trade route existed between Alexandria and China during the years 250 BC to 250 AD. (See The Ancient Maritime Sea Route) To discover the Nabataean's role in this, please visit: (Who were the Ancient Arab Sea Traders?)
Method of Study
1. What was happening in respect to Chinese Maritime History? Chinese Maritime history needs to be looked at from two perspectives. First, a chronological look will help us understand what was happening in the greater Chinese situation. Secondly, I believe it is important to then start at well documented events in later Chinese Maritime history and work backwards, trying to trace how the Chinese developed their particular technologies and theories of ship building, navigation, and patterns of trade. This will help us understand the maritime abilities of the Chinese during the period from 250 BC to 250 AD.
2. Anomalies or technology that was suddenly introduced. Usually technology is gradually developed, and new precepts are built on old ones. When technology takes a sudden leap, it is safe to assume that new knowledge was gained from an outside source. Where there technologies and knowledge that were exclusively available in China that passed to the Arabs, or visa versa? This also points to direct links between these two great civilizations.
3. Tangible historical links between the Arabs and the Chinese during the Greek and Roman Empires. This includes pottery, coins, inscriptions, as well as historical records written by Greek, Roman and Chinese explorers and historians. There are many tangible indications of a great maritime trade route that existed between Rome and China between 250 BC and 250 AD., where the Arabs acted as the principle sea merchants from the Roman side.
|Who were the ancient Arab Sea Traders?||Alexandria, the center of trade|
|Nabataeans in Italy||Berenice Port on the Red Sea|
|Nabataeans in Africa||Myos Hormos Port on the Red Sea|
|Africa: Juani Island||Leuce Come Port on the Red Sea|
|Africa: Mafia Island||Trade on the Arabian Sea|
|Africa: The Coast of Tanzania||Trade on the Red Sea|
|Nabataeans in India||Nabataeans in the Arab Gulf|
|The Kingdoms of South India||Indian Pottery Found in Petra|
|Arab Ports of Call in India||Trade on the Bay of Bengal|
|Nabataeans and Sri Lanka||Ancient Trade Items|
|The Kingdom of Ruhuna||Nabataeans in Turkey|
|Stone Anchors from Arabia in Sri Lanka||Malacca in Asia|
|Southern Arabia||Dong Song Kingdom in Vietnam|
|Southern Arabia Countryside||African Pottery found in Nabataea|
|Southern Arabia A Caravansary||Nabataean Trade Routes|
|Southern Arabia: The Marib Dam||Nabataeans on Rhodes|
|Southern Arabia Sa'ada (City in the North)||The Ancient Maritime Sea Route|
|Southern ArabiaYemeni Lifestyle||A Proposed New Trade Route Directly East fromPetra|
|Nabataeans in Antartica?||Elephants and the Nabataeans|
|Nabataeans in China||Trade on the China Sea|
|The Spice Route Time Chart (China, India, Arabia, Europe)||Nabataea found in Chinese Texts|
|China: The Li-Kan Question||Chinese Maritime History|
|An overview of Chinese history||The 'West' as mentioned in Chinese historical sources|
|Book Review; 1421 - The Year China Discovered the World|