Tag Archives: trade

Archaeology is unravelling new stories about Indigenous seagoing trade on Australia’s doorstep



File 20190213 90497 12f9ric.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
A Motu trading ship with its characteristic crab claw shaped sails. Taken in the period 1903-1904.
Trustees of The British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA

Chris Urwin, Monash University; Alois Kuaso, Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery; Bruno David, Monash University; Henry Auri Arifeae, Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery, and Robert Skelly, Monash University

It has long been assumed that Indigenous Australia was isolated until Europeans arrived in 1788, except for trade with parts of present day Indonesia beginning at least 300 years ago. But our recent archaeological research hints of at least an extra 2,100 years of connections across the Coral Sea with Papua New Guinea.

Over the past decade, we have conducted research in the Gulf of Papua with local Indigenous communities.

During the excavations, the most common archaeological evidence found in the old village sites was fragments of pottery, which preserve well in tropical environments compared to artefacts made of wood or bone. As peoples of the Gulf of Papua have no known history of pottery making, and the materials are foreign, the discovered pottery sherds are evidence of trade.

This pottery began arriving in the Gulf of Papua some 2,700 years ago, according to carbon dating of charcoal found next to the sherds.




Read more:
Explainer: what is radiocarbon dating and how does it work?


This means societies with complex seafaring technologies and widespread social connections operated at Australia’s doorstep over 2,500 years prior to colonisation. Entrepreneurial traders were traversing the entire south coast of PNG in sailing ships.

There is also archaeological evidence that suggests early connections between PNG and Australia’s Torres Strait Islands. Fine earthenware pottery dating to 2,600 years ago, similar in form to pottery arriving in the Gulf of Papua around that time, has been found on the island of Pulu. Rock art on the island of Dauan further to the north depicts a ship with a crab claw-shaped sail, closely resembling the ships used by Indigenous traders from PNG.

It is hard to imagine that Australia, the Torres Strait and PNG’s south coast were not connected.

The region termed the ‘Coral Sea Cultural Interaction Sphere’ where archaeology is gradually uncovering evidence of ancient interconnections.
Author provided

An unconventional trade

The trade itself was quite remarkable. When British colonists arrived in Port Moresby (now the capital of PNG) in 1873, some 130 kilometres from the start of the Gulf of Papua to the west, they wrote in astonishment of the industrial scale of pottery production for maritime trade by Indigenous Motu communities.

Each year, Motu women would spend months making thousands of earthenware pots. Meanwhile the men built large trading ships, called lakatoi, by lashing together several dugout hulls. The ships measured 15-20 metres long and had woven sails in the shape of crab claws.

In October and November, Motu men would load the pots into the ships and sail west towards the rainforest swamplands of the Gulf of Papua. The trade on which they embarked was known as hiri. The voyages were perilous, and lives were sometimes lost in the waves.

Rows of Motu pots ready for shipment to the Gulf of Papua. The pots are arranged on a beach situated in today’s Port Moresby region. Taken by Reverend William G Lawes in 1881-1891.
Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA

When the men arrived – having sailed up to 400 kilometres along the coast – the Motu were in foreign lands. People living in the Gulf of Papua spoke different languages and had different cultural practices. But they were not treated like foreigners.

Sir Albert Maori Kiki, who became the Deputy Prime Minister of PNG, grew up in the Gulf of Papua in the 1930s. He described the arrival of the Motu in his memoirs:

The trade was not conducted like common barter […] the declarations of friendship that went with it were as important as the exchange of goods itself […] Motu people did not carry their pots to the market, but each went straight to the house of his trade relation, with whom his family had been trading for years and perhaps generations.

In exchange for their pots, the Motu were given rainforest hardwood logs from which to make new canoes, and tonnes of sago starch (a staple plant food for many people in Southeast Asia and across the island of New Guinea).

The Motu would stay in Gulf villages for months, waiting for the wind to change to carry them back home.

Quantity overtakes quality

Pottery has been traded into the Gulf of Papua for 2,700 years, but the trade grew larger in scale about 500 years ago. Archaeological sites of the past 500 years have much larger quantities of pottery than those before them. The pottery itself is highly standardised and either plain or sparsely decorated, in contrast with older sherds that often feature ornate designs.

In the past 500 years it seems that pottery makers valued quantity over quality: as greater quantities of pottery were traded into the Gulf of Papua, labour-intensive decorations gradually disappeared.

Fragments of a decorated earthenware bowl dating to within the past 500 years. Found in an excavation at Orokolo Bay (Gulf of Papua, PNG) in 2015.
Photographs by Steve Morton (Monash University)

We think this is when the hiri trade between the Motu and rainforest villages of the Gulf of Papua began in earnest.

The coming decades promise further findings that will help unravel the forgotten shared history of PNG and Indigenous Australia across the Torres Strait. But it is becoming increasingly clear that Indigenous Australia was not isolated from the rest of the world.The Conversation

Chris Urwin, Researcher, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Monash University; Alois Kuaso, Deputy Director for Science Research and Consultancy Division at the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery, Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery; Bruno David, Professor, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Monash University; Henry Auri Arifeae, Cultural Coordinator, Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery, and Robert Skelly, Archaeologist, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Advertisements

Throw a sea cucumber on the barbie: Australia’s trade history really is something to celebrate



File 20190124 135163 16pr1vx.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The sea cucumber, or trepang, Australia’s first export to Asia.
Shutterstock

Tim Harcourt, UNSW

The sea cucumber is a marine animal that has a leathery skin but soft body. Its shape and size resembles a cucumber. In Australia we commonly call it trepang, adopted from a Malayan word. It was Australia’s first export to Asia, where it is regarded as a delicacy, particularly in Chinese cuisine.

There is evidence fishermen from Makassar, on what is now the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, were visiting the coast of what is now Arnhem Land to collect sea cucumbers as early as the mid-1600s to sell to Chinese merchants. The fishermen camped on the beach to boil and dry their caught trepang, and exchanged goods with the local Indigenous tribes.




Read more:
Long before Europeans, traders came here from the north and art tells the story


Through the lens of trade, therefore, the story of modern Australia, a nation interacting with the global economy, begins long before January 26, 1788.

There are many debates that surround Australia Day. But we can all celebrate our history of trade. Like any history, there are episodes of engagement we can’t admire or be proud of. But on the whole, what began with seafood trade on the coast of Arnhem Land has proven a remarkable success.

Arrivals, departures, department stores

Two of Hong Kong’s most iconic department stores provide another example of historic interaction with Asia.

Throughout the 19th century large numbers of Chinese, particularly Cantonese, migrated to Australia’s goldfields. As in any gold rush, it was those who ended up selling supplies that usually prospered more than the prospectors (the 19th century equivalents of Atlassian). In Victoria, Chinese merchants became prominent in the development of retail sectors in Ballarat and Bendigo.

Some Chinese migrants who opened stores in Australia eventually returned to China, and took what they had learned with them.

A Sincere store in Mongkok, Hong Kong.
Wikimedia, CC BY-NC-SA

One of those was Ma Ying Piu, who in 1900 opened Hong Kong’s first Chinese-owned department store, called Sincere. The store is said to have been inspired by David Jones in Sydney.

Hong Kong’s second Chinese-owned department store, Wing On, was started by brothers Kwok Lok and Kwok Chuen, who returned to China from Australia in 1907. Both businesses opened branches in Shanghai and became two of the “four great department stores of China”.

Such entrepreneurial spirit from around the world enabled
the separate Australian colonies to boom for much of the 19th century. Admittedly some paid a heavy price (convicts and Indigenous people treated like slaves, for example). But great economic growth was achieved, as economic historian Ian McLean points out in Why Australia Prospered, without a national government or “many of the institutions and sources of advice now regarded as essential for macroeconomic management”, such as trained economists.

The long march to the Asian century

Colonial governments ran trade missions to China, South East Asia and Japan in the 19th century. After federation in 1901, the Commonwealth government set up trade offices in Shanghai, Tokyo and Batavia (Jakarta) before the interruption of World War II. In the post-war era there have been “four waves” of Asian engagement.

The first three were: the Japan-Australia Commerce agreement in 1957; Gough Whitlam’s recognition of China in 1971; and the Hawke-Keating economic reforms between 1983 and 1996.

The fourth wave is the Asian Century. It began after Australia survived the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-99 and realised its future did lie in Asia.

To get to that point was a long process. Paul Keating might have been the prime minister who most enthusiastically spruiked engagement with Asia, but he was certainly not the first to advocate closer ties.

That was then, and this is now

So that’s some of our history. What about now?

There are many contemporary things we can be cheerful (and proud about) in 2019 that echo our history.

We can be very pleased about successful Indigenous exporters and entrepreneurs – the successors of our first traders from Arnhem Land.

Think of Ros and John Moriarty of Balarinji, the design agency that has developed all of the motifs used by Qantas in its Flying Art series.

Balarinji oversaw translating Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s 1991 painting ‘Yam Dreaming’ for application on a Qantas jet.
Qantas

Or Peter Cooley, who founded Blak Markets to provide economic development opportunities to Indigenous people. (He also hosts his own business show.)

Or David Williams and the members of the Bangarra dance company.

At my business school at the University of NSW a new generation of Indigenous business students have just completed summer school. I am hopeful many will become our business stars of tomorrow.

Along with homegrown talent, Australia has been blessed by waves of immigrants rich in the same entrepreneurial spirit that enabled Chinese merchants to prosper despite the racism of the 19th century.

From the first fleet, we’ve had English, Scots and Irish seeking freedom from poverty and persecution. We’ve had East European Jews, Vietnamese Buddhists, Lebanese Christians and Afghan Muslims fleeing persecution and war.

About one in four Australians were born overseas, but they represent one in every two exporters, and two out of every three entrepreneurs. Immigration has been a good story for Australia in terms of trade and entrepreneurial talent.




Read more:
How Australian cities are adapting to the Asian Century


The books Why Nations Fail and Why Australia Prospered show Australia has developed much more successful economic institutions (such as property rights) and political institutions (such as democratic rights) than other nations with similar natural resources, agricultural endowments and increases in human capital through immigration.

This is partially due to our successful record as a trading nation.

No nation is perfect. They all have their failures and aspects of their history not to be proud of. But the things we have gotten right are worth remembering.

So even if you throw a shrimp on the barbie, at least remember the sea cucumber.The Conversation

Tim Harcourt, J.W. Nevile Fellow in Economics and host of The Airport Economist, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


World’s oldest clove? Here’s what our find in Sri Lanka says about the early spice trade



File 20190115 152965 11tcckp.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Mamsizz via Shutterstock

Eleanor Kingwell-Banham, UCL

The history of the spice trade conjures up exotic images of caravans plying the Silk Road in storied antiquity as well as warfare between European powers vying for control of what, pound for pound, were among the most valuable commodities in the known world.

One of the most valuable of the spices was clove – the versatile immature bud of the evergreen clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum) which is native to the Maluku Islands or the Moluccas in the Indonesian Archipelago. Prized for its flavour and aroma, and also for its medicinal qualities, clove quickly became important for its use as a breath freshener, perfume and food flavouring.

We believe we might have found the oldest clove in the world at an excavation in Sri Lanka, from an ancient port which dates back to around 200BC. This port, Mantai, was one of the most important ports of medieval Sri Lanka and drew trade from across the ancient world. Not only that, but we also found evidence for black pepper (Piper nigrum), another high-value low-bulk product of the ancient spice trade.

Ancient history

Western knowledge of Sri Lanka dates back to at least 77AD, when the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote about the island as Taprobane in his famous Natural History. This is the earliest existing text which mentions Sri Lanka, however Pliny states that the ancient Greeks (and Alexander the Great) had long known about it.

Sri Lanka, wrote Pliny “is more productive of gold and pearls of great size than even India”, as well as having “elephants … larger, and better adapted for warfare than those of India”. Fruits were abundant and the people had more wealth than the Romans – as well as living to 100 years old. No wonder then, that ancient Sri Lanka drew trade ships not only from the Roman world, but also from Arabia, India and China.

Decades of archaeological exploration has sought to uncover evidence for the rich kingdoms of ancient Sri Lanka. Mantai (also written as Manthai and known as Manthottam/Manthota), on the northern tip of the island, was one of the port settlements of the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377BC to 1017AD) and has been recently radiocarbon dated to between about 200BC and 1400AD.

Today, the site is barely visible from the ground – but it is still an important location with Thirukketheesvaram temple sitting in the centre of the ancient settlement. From the air, the defensive ditch and banks of ancient Mantai can be seen covered in trees, as can the area where the defences were cut away to build the modern road.

Mantai as seen from the air today. The ancient circle of ditches built to defend the site can be seen in dark green. The main settlement was inside these defences.
Google Maps

The site was excavated in the 1980s – during three seasons of excavation an amazing array of artefacts were uncovered, including semiprecious stone beads and ceramics from India, Arabia, the Mediterranean and China. But in 1983 Sri Lanka’s civil war broke out, bringing an end to archaeological exploration in the Northern Province, as well as many other areas of the island. Unfortunately, many of the records related to this archaeological work became lost or were destroyed, including detailed stratigraphic information of how the layers of soil excavated related to one another, which would have been used to identify how and when the site developed, prospered and came to an end.

Mantai revisited

In 2009-2010, after the end of the civil war, a multinational team of researchers went back to Mantai and began new excavations. Work was jointly carried out by the Sri Lankan Department of Archaeology, SEALINKS and the UCL Institute of Archaeology. This project aimed to collect as much evidence from these excavations as possible, including fully quantified and systematically collected archaeobotanical (preserved plant) remains. The plants remains recovered include some of the most exciting finds from the site. Crucially, these include what were incredibly valuable spices at the time when they were deposited at the site: black pepper and cloves.

Only a handful of cloves have previously been recovered from archaeological sites, including these from France, for example – other archaeological evidence for cloves, such as pollen from cess pits in the Netherlands, only dates from 1500AD onwards – and there are no examples from South Asia.

Earlier finds of clove have been reported from Syria – but these have since largely been discredited as misidentifications. The clove from Mantai was found in a context dating to 900-1100AD, making this not only the oldest clove in Asia – but we think the oldest in the world.

We also found eight grains of black pepper at Mantai, plus a further nine badly preserved grains that we think are probably black pepper too. The earliest are dated to around 600AD, the time when international maritime trade became increasingly large and well established across Asia, Africa and Europe.

Spice wars

Clove was one of the rarest and most expensive spices in the Roman and Medieval world. It was not grown in Sri Lanka, but came from the Maluku Islands of South-East Asia (some 7,000km away by sea) for trade onwards to Europe, China or one of the other many regions that traded with Mantai.

Black pepper was also traded along these routes, and was most likely grown and harvested in the Western Ghats of India. Although less rare and valuable than clove, it was still known as “black gold” on account of its value in the Early Modern Period from 1500AD to about 1800AD.

From the 16th century, Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) was colonised by various European powers, from the Portuguese (1500s-1600s) to the Dutch (1600s-late 1700s) to the British (late 1700s-1948). They were all drawn by the island’s profitable trade in spices – although the British turned the fledgling coffee industry there into an incredibly lucrative tea trade which is still important to the island’s economy to this day.

But, whether or not the cloves we unearthed at Mantai turn out to be the oldest in existence, the presence of the spice at this 2,000-year-old site is solid evidence of the ancient spice trade that existed long before these wars of conquest.The Conversation

Eleanor Kingwell-Banham, Research associate, UCL

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Australia’s history of live exports is more than two centuries old



File 20180410 75767 1u99jz6.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
A sheep undergoing live export in 2017.
Animals Australia

Nancy Cushing, University of Newcastle

A recent episode of 60 Minutes has captured public attention and the political agenda by airing dramatic video footage from Animals Australia, showing the fate of Australian animals in the live export trade.

Video shot secretly by a crew member shows sheep on five separate voyages from Fremantle to the Middle East last year. They are buffeted by the movement of the ship, strain to breathe in the hot, noisy and acrid atmosphere between decks and trample the dead and dying under their hooves.

But while these glimpses inside a transport ship are new, the practice of live animal export is as old as the European colonisation of Australia.




Read more:
Can live animal export ever be humane?


Animals of the new colony

The first arrival of animals that would later be exported from Australia, including sheep, cattle and goats, can be dated with unusual precision to January 1788.

Like the convict workforce who made up the bulk of the human cargo on the First Fleet, the livestock, purchased mainly at the Cape of Good Hope, were considered necessary to transplant a British society and economy in Antipodean soil. Live animal import from other colonies, like India and Batavia, and from Europe continued throughout the first century of colonisation.

Hoists were used to load and unload live animals in ports without purpose-built ramps. This photograph demonstrates the practice in India in 1895.
Source: William Henry Jackson, World’s Transportation Commission photograph collection. Library of Congress

Breeds that suited the climate and their roles in the colony, especially those that helped displace native plants and animals and Indigenous peoples, were sought after and carefully nurtured.

Gradually the inward flow of animals reversed. Flocks and herds increased to the point where some could be sold on to other destinations. Initially, this was to the other colonies Britain was establishing in the region, such as Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), Western Australia, New Zealand and South Australia. These animals were primarily traded to establish new populations at their destinations.

Animals from New South Wales were also sent to the French colony of New Caledonia, and in small numbers farther afield to Russia, Japan and India. As numbers rose, larger-scale live export for consumption became established.

A hidden process

As in the present, this trade had distinct phases, some more visible than others. The process began where the animals were raised, generally on lightly stocked rangelands in the interior. They were driven on foot or loaded onto rail carriages to be taken to ports, where they waited in open yards to be loaded onto ships.

Thus far, the animals were moving through public spaces, where their treatment and conditions could be seen and in some cases recorded. Members of the public could register their concerns and seek to have mistreatment addressed. And even in a period when animal welfare was still an emerging concept, some did.

Railcars laden with frightened stock led to complaints about overcrowding and lack of access to food and water. One observer labelled such treatment “as gross a case of cruelty as it is possible to conceive”.

However, once the animals were hoisted or walked onto ships, they became invisible. No outsider could see them. Only those involved with the voyage knew how densely they were packed, how secure their pens were, whether their dung was cleared away, or how much food and water they received over journeys that could last for weeks. In the case of sheep, the advice was to pack them like wool bales, so tightly pressed together that they prevented one another from falling over.

In many cases, the animals were barely seen at all, except by one another, being left to their own devices on short voyages. During longer trips they would be tended to minimally, because of the toxic environment created below deck by what were termed their “exhalations of carbonic gases”.

Even the evidence of how many died on the voyages was hidden. Their bodies were thrown overboard before reaching port and few records were kept.

Animals carried on open decks could be seen while at the docks and had access to better-quality air, but were more vulnerable to high seas and inclement weather.

Animals carried on open decks could be seen while at the docks and had access to better-quality air, but were also vulnerable to high seas and inclement weather. Sheep in pens on a ship’s deck, Sydney Harbour, circa 1929.
Sam Hood photograph, State Library of New South Wales, Home and Away, 4066.

At the other end of the journey, the exported animals came back into view. This was often when the most useful accounts were recorded. Complaints about their poor condition, reduced numbers or the loss of entire shipments of animals were considered worthy of writing about in local newspapers by those who had eagerly awaited their arrival. It is at the receiving end of the export process that accusations of flimsy pens, overcrowding or the loading of animals that were not fit for the voyage can be found.

Taking this longer view of the Australian live export trade shows just how extraordinary the opportunity to see what happens during live export is. Animals Australia has noted that “Australia’s live sheep trade has operated for over five decades with only those financially invested in the trade having visual access to the conditions and welfare implications for the sheep on-board”.




Read more:
Assessing Australia’s regulation of live animal exports


This has been an issue for much longer than 50 years, but it’s now possible for outsiders – including farmers, politicians and members of the public – to see the appalling conditions of the live export trade for themselves.


The ConversationThis article is based on a blog post originally published by White Horse Press.

Nancy Cushing, Associate professor, University of Newcastle

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Atlantic Slave Trade



Article: End of the Plume Trade


The link below is to an article that looks at the end of the Plume Trade.

For more visit:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/How-Two-Women-Ended-the-Deadly-Feather-Trade-192135981.html


%d bloggers like this: