SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Buddhism and Trade: Rock Cut Caves of the Western Ghats

Gethin Rees (Cambridge University)

Date: 12 November 2008Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 12 November 2008Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Seminar

This presentation will investigate the relationship between Buddhism and Indian Ocean trade in Early Historic South Asia. The latter has become a focus of scholarship in recent years and although its role in state formation has been questioned, there is no doubt that it was an influential component of the economy of the Western Deccan. Ports on the western coast of South Asia facilitated this trade and in order to access the coast from the interior of the subcontinent, the Western Ghats mountain range had to be crossed. Numerous rock cut Buddhist monasteries in the region date to the Early Historic period and this presentation will evaluate literary and epigraphic evidence in order to understand the relationship between patronage at these sites and the merchants who travelled through the mountains. Subsequently, the location and characteristics of rock cut monasteries will be examined alongside settlement evidence in order to determine which of the routes through the Western Ghats were used most intensely and the impact of Indian Ocean trade on the Deccan.

Organiser: Dr Crispin Branfoot and Dr Elizabeth Moore

Contact email:,