Six to seven hundred years ago the very first to explore what we know as the Indian Ocean were Arabs, from Persia and the northern deserts. Searching what every sea-faring explorer of the time was seeking – trading routes and new lands to colonize – they explored what came to be known at the time as the Sea of Zanj, the Sea of Blacks. From the Maldives to the east coast of Africa (Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, the Seychelles islands, Mauritius, Reunion and more the Arabs put down roots, built sea ports. During the 1600s pirates, who used the islands off the coast of Africa as both temporary hideouts and permanent homes, followed the black Arabs. It wasn’t until the late 1700s that Europeans – sailing from Spain, France, England, the Netherlands and more – first explored the region. It’s a rich history, going back nearly eight hundred years; this past spring I spent two months exploring the seas between the Maldives and the coast of east Africa, in search of all those roots (and routes) and coming up on a sizable number of a species that it turns out is not so new to the region: Pirates.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks from dispatches from Jon at Bowermaster’s Adventures.