PCMA Seminar lecture series “Ancient Indian Ocean Ports” – Berenike

In the end of June, the PCMA Seminar will host the first meeting in a new lecture series on Ancient Indian Ocean ports. This hybrid event will be focused on archaeological perspectives of Berenike as a hub in long-distance exchange networks involving India, Africa and the Mediterranean region.

The lecture series, which will continue in the next academic year, is organized by Dr. Emilia Smagur (PCMA UW) in conjunction with her research grant “History from coins. The use and value of coins in the ancient Western Indian Ocean ports“.

Abstract: “Ancient Indian Ocean ports are fascinating types of settlements, and constitute a special historical, cultural and sociological phenomenon. They often developed as a combination of a city, a market and a port harbor, but in each place this mixture was different and unique. Their populations consisted of sailors, merchants, foreigners but also people who inhabited the coast and only seldom travelled. They also went through a constant cycle of changes due to the fluctuations in political, economic and climatic conditions.

The first PCMA seminar in this series will feature lectures focused on Berenike, a vibrant harbour town in the Eastern Desert and one of the key ports for the Red Sea branch of the Indian Ocean trade. The town was established by Ptolemy II Philadelphus in the 3rd century BCE. Over the next 800 years, the port played a significant role in the Indian Ocean trade connecting Egypt with the Mediterranean region, Africa, the Persian Gulf, and India.

The speakers will present a range of perspectives on Berenike examining what we can learn from various types of archaeological sources about its history, inhabitants, and long-distance connections.”


  • 10.00Opening: Artur Obłuski (PCMA UW Director)
  • 10.05Introduction: Emilia Smagur (PCMA UW)
  • 10.15 – Rodney Ast (University of Heidelberg, Germany) –”Berenike and the Dark Third Century in Light of New Inscriptional Finds”
  • 11.15 – Shailendra Bhandare (Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford) – “Interesting Indic Finds from Berenike”
  • 12.15 – coffee break
  • 12.45 – Joanna Then-Obłuska (Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre, University of Warsaw) –“Indian Glass Beads and Their Potential Owners in Berenike”
  • 13.15 – Emilia Smagur (PCMA UW) – “Coins in Berenike”

The seminar will be held in hybrid form, on Monday, 26th June at the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology UW, 69 Prosta st., 2nd floor, room 201 & on-line. To receive a link to the Zoom meeting, please write to pcma@uw.edu.pl

Program (PDF)