Chinese Maritime History
Related to Nabataean Arab Trade

This major research paper is still in progress. Due to Middle Eastern political disruptions it will be postponed. Coming later in 2004, possibly in the fall. Below is a taste of what is to come.

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?)

Ancient Maritme Trade Route between Alexandria and China
Note: The links on this map have been deactivated. Please visit : to explore this map and it's links.

Method of Study
While direct archeological evidence has yet to immerge, I believe it is possible to intelligently speculate about contact between the Chinese and the Arabs during the Nabataean period. In order to do this I have investigated four specific areas.

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.

Coming later in 2004, possibly in the fall.
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 header with menus