The Maritime Silk Road: The Indian Ocean and the Africa China Exchange systems in the late first/ early second Millennium BCE



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For decades, excavations along the East African coast have unearthed thousands of Chinese ceramics in several centres along this coast, which stretches for nearly 3000 km. These ceramics range from the Changsha (Du’sun) jass Yue stone wares to the white porcelains. The Changsha stone ware found in East Africa is dated in China to the early 9th C while the Yue stone wares date from the 9th C onwards and the white porcelain dates to after the 9th C. This paper surveys the prevalence of these ceramics along the East African coast and argues that the presence of these ceramics is an indication of not only long time exchange systems between China and the East African coast but also that the East African coast played an important role in the emerging global trade networks that involved the European powers of the time as well.