Ancient trading ports
G.W.B. Huntingford has argued in his translation of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, written in the first century BC, that the “Lesser and Greater Bluffs”, the “Lesser and Greater Strands”, and the “Seven Courses” of Azania all should be identified with the Somali coastline from Hafun south to Siyu Channel. This indicates that parts of Somalia were familiar to Roman and Indian traders by this time.
The inhabitants were referred to as the Black Berbers. For five centuries (second to seventh century AD) parts of Somalia came under the rule of the Ethiopian/Eritrean Kingdom of Aksum.
In the northern part of the Eastern Horn, change of much less sweeping sorts characterized the end of the last millennium B.C and the first five centuries A.D. The most notable external impact came through the growth of seagoing trade in the Red Sea. At the turn of the era, several significant trading emporia existed along the southern shores of the Gulf of Aden, the most significant of these being at Malao (present-day Berbera). Other commercial sites included Mundu (modern Hais) and Mosyllon (modern Elayu; or Ceelaayo). A good variety of commodities were imported at these locations, such as clothing, drinking vessels, iron wares, and Roman coins. A lesser range of goods passed into the outward bound trade—-mainly raw materials, in particular myrrh from Malao and frankincense from Mundu and Mosyllon. Tortoise shell also was a valued product of those coasts. (refer to Lionel Casson, The periplus Maris Erythraei Princeton)
In the 7th century AD, Arab traders began to trade with the locals who according to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea already were active in commerce with foreign nations, the local Cushitic people, founded the sultanate of Adal, the main port of which was Zeila (now Saylac).
The newly established Sultanate put the Somalis in contact with Arab traders travelling along the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. In the ensuing centuries, the Somalis converted to Islam. To the west there was a lot of trading done with the people living with the Oromos, the Afars and the people living in modern-day Eritrea.
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