Rawlinson, H. G. Intercourse between India and the western world from the earliest times to the fall of Rome

(Cambridge :  University Press,  1916.)



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India and the Roman Empire      135

identification, is shewn by the fact that Ptolemy
knows that the word signifies in Sanskrit the
"Isle of Barley^." It is characteristic, however,
of the vague and inaccurate information supplied
by his illiterate informers, that Ptolemy confuses
Java with the neighbouring island of Sumatra.
The description given is obviously of Sumatra
and not of Java at all. Sumatra, not Java,
is rich in gold, and Argyre, the capital on the
western extremity of the island, is in all probability
Achin^. Java became later an important Hindu
colony, as its great ruins testify; both it and
Cambodia became the seats of important bodies
of settlers, perhaps partly owing to the extension
of the China trade. Java, if we may judge from
the narrative of Fa Hian, was an entrepot for
traffic with the Far East, like the Arabian ports
in the West; and the island was visited again
by Ibn Batuta in the fourteenth century. After
rounding the coast of Indo-China, Ptolemy's
account becomes more and more vague. He
thinks that the coast-line, instead of bearing
away to the north, turns southwards, finally
connecting Asia and Africa, and enclosing the
Indian Ocean so as to form, like the Mediterranean
Sea, a huge landlocked expanse of water. After
crossing the Gulf of Beasts (the Gulf of Tongking),
we come to Kattigara, the last port in the known
expanse of the ancient world, and here Ptolemy's

^ Sanskrit3/ava, 'barley.'

2 Bunbury, ii. 643 ; Yule, Marco Polo, 11. 266, note.
  Page 135