April 2018: Dr. Michelle Damian: Maritime Trade Networks of Medieval Japan

Egara Tenjin emaki

Sunday, April 8, 2018, at 3pm                                                          Archaeological Institute of America

Dr. Michelle Damian

Assistant Professor of History at Monmouth College

Maritime Trade Networks of Medieval Japan


This study demonstrates that despite the political upheaval of Japan’s late medieval period (15th–16thc), trade connections within the Inland Sea region actually flourished, resulting in the beginnings of a regional commodities market. Until now, it has been difficult to track maritime practices in this era due to the lack of written records of medieval seafaring. Using geospatial analysis of extant documentary and archaeological evidence, however, it becomes possible to discern the flow of certain commercial goods within the Seto Inland Sea region. Through this analysis it becomes apparent that smaller ports largely unrecorded in written documents were often critical transshipment hubs, facilitating trade in the region. Furthermore, geospatial analysis allows tracking of ship captains’ voyages, providing insight into medieval seafaring practices and proving the existence of complex individual and institutional maritime networks.


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