The Spice Ships of Calicut

Eli Whitney Museum

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2011 Summer Program

Long before Vasco de Gama sailed from Portugal around Africa to India, Calicut (Kozhikode) was a powerful trading kingdom. Explorers from Africa and China, merchants from Persia and Russia were drawn to southwest India's treasury of spices. Calicut's artisans harvested timber from Kerala's abundant forests to construct the dhows that were the ship that Arab merchants favored. Construct a trading Dhow with its massive lateen* sail, its crew of twenty, and its cargo. Collect and sample India's precious pepper, ginger, medicinal herbs, cinnamon, curry, textiles and crafts. Create Calicut's harbor and market with its rich diversity and its unusual base 20 counting system.

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