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date: 18 October 2019


  • John Carswell


Port, occupied from the 2nd millennium bc to 1000, near modern Mannar in north-west Sri Lanka. Mantai was the port for the inland capital at Anuradhapura and an important link in the maritime network between the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and East Asia; during its final phase, it was one of Asia’s most important trading emporia. Its growth must have been dependent on the surplus capital generated by the agricultural development of the northern dry zone, with its sophisticated irrigation system of canals and tanks (reservoirs). The primary reason for Mantai’s development as an emporium was its location at the end of a narrow channel transversing the chain of reefs, known as Adam’s Bridge, that prevent the passage of large-scale shipping. Ships from the Near East and East Asia were able to meet at Mantai and exchange goods via the channel. Evidence of the Sasanian and Islamic presence was found in excavations in ...

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