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Serendib - The Trade Island

Did you know the word serendipity coined by Horace Walpole was based off the magnificent island of Serendib.

Serendib, also similarly known as serendip is one of the ancient names for the country, Sri Lanka. It was of Arabic origin and may have been used by many of the people who traded across the Indian ocean. The island’s significance during the iron age and possibly even before was its geographic location and being located in the middle of all naval trade routes in the maritime silk route. It is one of the best spots for this purpose when crossing the Indian ocean or traversing around the cape of good hope.

This name was recorded in use around 361 AD. In this era much of the trade consisted of luxury goods. Coming in from Arabia, Egypt, China and other particular locations. Sri Lanka’s thriving monarchy imported a wide variety of goods from the traders namely: silks, the highest quality ceramics, perfumes, horses, glass, coral, wine and much much more. Sri Lanka’s or Serendib’s popularity grew because of these types of trade and the exports of items like gems, elephants, rice, honey, gold, silver, spice, iron etc. However cinnamon, an exquisitely valuable spice, natively grown on the island was said to be kept a secret until around the 12th century.

Traders all across the globe have records of this incredible location and the activities that took place in it. Many have written stories of all kinds to capture the essence of the operations and atmosphere in the naval trade routes and on site. It is said that Sri Lankan ships were large wooden vessels that were big enough to transport elephants and an array of other material. Serendib, a truly flourishing nation during the iron age.

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