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The ship at sea: Naval incursions

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Chapter Summary

References to the subject of the baḥriyya made by Arab, Byzantine and Western sources in the early centuries of Islam, give substantial information about military-naval activities in the Mediterranean: Until the fifth/eleventh century as far as our documents can tell, Muslim and Byzantine warships were manned by skilled fighting men who possessed naval war manuals and were trained in the best naval tactics. Only a small number of war-like encounters at sea between Muslims and non-Muslims are mentioned in the Early Medieval period. From the author’s understanding of the sources, there seem to have been no naval activities that refer to war with the Arabians and Persians. A good example is the Kadambas dynasty, a great maritime power that sustained good trade relations with Muslims in East Africa. All this suggests that Muslim merchants came to the coasts of India on peaceful terms as their primary interest was trade.

Keywords: baḥriyya; Byzantine warships; Early Medieval period; East Africa; military-naval activities; Muslim merchants; West Indian coast



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