Early Trade

From about the 3rd century BC, diamond merchants began 'to risk their lives on the high seas for the sake of high profits'. Goods from India were shipped through the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf into the major ports of the Mediterranean and Black Sea, while others went overland from Taxila. 

Following an even more ancient route, a road had been constructed from the Mauryan capital, Pataliputra to Taxila (Takshasila). This northerly city had long been a meeting point and commercial centre, where India had traded with South-East Asia and China for centuries, and where the Persians and Greeks had later joined them. 

But, even if Indian ships had sailed into Alexandria and caravans were diverted to Taxila, only minimal quantities of the diamonds being mined in India ever reached Europe. Those seen in Rome were the small and insignificant stones, because the better sizes and qualities were either withheld or had been purchased along the way. 

Not until Vasco da Gama (c. 1469-1524), had opened the direct sea-route to India and returned to Portugal from a much more successful second voyage in September 1503, was the situation to change.

 

All historical texts above from: Een Streling Voor Het Oog, Antwerpen 1997

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