Did Romans have direct maritime trade contacts with Odisha on the Eastern Indian littoral?
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Kalinga, Utkal, Odra and Orissa are former names of the present state of Odisha with varied geographical boundaries in different periods of history. The exploration and excavations of Manikapatna, Palur, Radhanagar, Sisupalgarh, Talapada of Odisha have brought to light terracotta Roman bullae with Roman portraits, lamps, amphorae shreds and rouletted ware which suggested that these findings belong to the Roman period (early centuries of Christian era) and Roman mariners had maritime contacts with Odisha from the early historical period onwards, if not earlier. However, it is evident that Roman artefacts such as gold coins, amphorae, Terra Sigillata (Arretine ware), etc., are more abundant in peninsular India than in the rest of the country and these findings are limited in Odisha, but the reasons are not comprehensible. However, archaeological findings from the port and trade centres delineate maritime contacts of Odisha with Southeast Asian countries. Here we discuss the archaeological findings from the port sites of Odisha to understand the maritime contacts with Southeast Asian countries and the Roman Empire and examine why the Roman findings are comparatively less in Odisha than in peninsular and other parts of India.
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