Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Monsoons and Wind and Ocean Currents – Part III

Continuing with a reader’s submission about our being wrong regarding the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean and not being able to sail from Arabia to Indonesia, specifically the Malay Peninsula, in 600 B.C. Having shown some of the errors in the article submitted in the previous post, we continue here with that article and its sometimes questionable content in regard to the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean.
    it can also be asked, what about: “Since then [9 million years ago], Arab, Greek, Rome and Portuguese sailors have used monsoon winds and currents for their maritime contacts with India” (emphasis added). Has anyone considered that nine million years ago no one today or at any time in history would have known this since no historical written records of any kind date before Moses time?
    This time frame is also mentioned in another statement (though it has a reference): “Scientific studies indicate that the evolution of monsoon started around 9 million years before (Warren L. Prell, et al., Geophysical Monograph, 70, American Geophysical Union, 1992, pp447–469). By the way, this reference is the Geophysical Monograph Series, (AGU Journals) which encompasses all of the scientific areas in Earth and space science. It publishes monographic works and compilations of papers on a single topic. Volumes frequently focus on multidisciplinary problems and are designed to be of interest to researchers, teachers, and graduate students. How interesting that such a revered publication would publish statements of exactness dating to nine million years ago, 8.9 million years before man is supposed to have appeared on the Earth.
    Where is the factual evidence of that?
    Nor is that even an accepted date, for many geologists claim 8 million years, and a number of others claim 5 million, while still others claim15-20 million years. Consequently, it cannot be so stated when the scientific community as a whole cannot agree on any time frame covering a 15 million year difference.
Even as late as the Chola Dynasty (200 A.D. 1279 A.D.) which reached the peak of its influence and power during the medieval period (K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India, Oxford University Press, 1955, p5), whose influence spread into the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, sailed along the eastern coast of India and across the Bay of Bengal in their coastal vessels
The submitted article by our reader goes on to state: “Climatic conditions of the Bay of Bengal are crucial in determining sailing from the ports of the east coast of India. Sailing was carried out north and south along the coast and eastwards across the Bay. Communities of mariners, pilots and merchants acquired vast knowledge through generations of sailing” (emphasis added). Note that the authors are talking about the Bay of Bengal and the trading along the India coast—not the Malay Peninsula (which was merely within an area of influence), which subject is a very minor point introduced within the body of the article.    But when they do, watch how they hedge their words: “While making their voyages to Southeast Asian countries, the sailors and merchants of Orissa and others might have sailed around the Malay Peninsula through the Strait of Malacca, then to the East Indies and Indo-China and beyond” (emphasis added). Once this possibility has been established, the authors then go on to make more definitive statements, such as “Sailors and merchants of Orissa had landed at various places, including Srikshetra in Burma, Takkola, Kokkonagara, Kataha Kadharam in the Malaya Peninsula, Sri Vijaya in Sumatra, Purva Kalinga in Java” (Sila Tripati, Maritime Archaeology: Historical Descriptions of the Seafarings of the Kalingas, Kaveri Books, New Delhi, 2000, p72).
    Now did you notice the authors’ reference for this last statement? Yep, they quoted one of themselves in a previous work. You just gotta love a scholarly, scientific work where the author quotes himself as a reference.
    In addition, the authors write: “The other route to Southeast Asian countries from Orissa has been between the Andaman and Nicobar Islands or between Nicobar Islands and Achin, the northern tip of Sumatra, disembarking on the peninsula around Takuapa or at Kedah. On return they would come directly to Sri Lanka and then to other ports on the east coast of India (14 Prasad, P. C., Foreign Trade and Commerce in Ancient India, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi, 1977, p. 154).
Top Left: Authors view of sailing from Orissa to Sumatra; Top Right: An accurate map of how travel from Orissa to Sumatra would have been accomplished, along the coast, and then past the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and then to Achin (Aceh) Head, Sumatra. Bottom Left: The return trip would have been to cross over to Kedah or Takua Pa and then hug the peninsula coast up to the mainland and around the Bay of Bengal back to Orissa; Bottom Right: So-called sailing through the Malacca Strait and around Malay Peninsula, which would have been extremely dangerous for a ship driven by the wind

    As always, when historians and scholars of the day start drawing lines on maps as to how ancients sailed, they make the mistake of thinking in terms of the shortest distance, but ancient mariner traders rarely had maps, they traveled by memory, sighting different landmarks they knew and had used before and hugged the coast as we have pointed out in previous posts in this series—not out of fear of losing sight of land, but out of necessity for their age and the safety of themselves, their cargoes and their crews--besides, the landmarks visible on the land was what they used to verify where they were sailing as the many ancient Periplus point out.

Continuing with the comments from the authors:
    “People from all over India came by land or river to the nearest sea port and then made a coastal voyage either to Tamralipti, Palur or Masulipatnam, from where ships made a direct voyage to the Far East countries across the Bay of Bengal. Further, these ships took a course to the northeast from Java to reach Canton. This route was followed by merchants who traded with the West and the East.”
Ports on east coast of India where people went in order to sail to the east (dotted arrow); the Island of Java where ships sailed northward to Canton, China, for trade. Note: All this activity is coastal voyages or in protected seas where winds and currents along the coast are accessible to small, coastal trading vessels

    The authors of the article go on to write: “Mariners from Orissa, India used to set out on their journey to Southeast Asian countries during the northeast monsoon (trade wind) and return during the southwest monsoon. The flow of wind and current was favorable for both the onward and return journey.”
According to both the American Meteorological Society and the India Meteorological Department, the two seasons of the Indian Ocean Monsoons (or East Asia Monsoons). Note the direction of the red arrows

    However, the trouble with that is in the direction the winds blow during the “northeast” and “southwest” monsoons. As the chart shows, winds blow from the “northeast” during the Winter Monsoon, and from the “southwest” during the Summer Monsoon. Now we need to keep in mind that Southeast Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea, which in reality would include Sumatra, Malay Peninsula (Malay, Thailand, Myanmar), Java, Borneo, Philippines, as well as mainland Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam (Klaus Kästle, “Map of Southeast Asia Region,” Nations Online Project. One World–Nations Online, 10 September 2013). 
    Consequently, when the winds blow from the northeast, they do not blow toward southeast Asia along the India coast or in the Bay of Bengal, but away from that area, to the southwest—which is why their return are called the Southwest Monsoon. To say that again, the Northeast Monsoon winds do blow to the south, but toward the southwest, not the southeast!
    Keep in mind we are talking about ocean vessels that are dependent upon the wind—what Nephi called “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8,9), not ships driven by any other means.
Left: Black Arrows are the wind direction of the “Northeast Monsoon,” meaning the wind is from the northeast blowing toward the southwest. The broken red arrow is the proposed direction of travel from Orissa to Southeast Asia claimed in the article; Right: In reality, as the broken red line shows, the vessel would be swept along the direction of the northeast monsoon winds and southwest into the Indian Ocean—not to southeast Asia 

    What coastal trading vessels did along a coast where winds and currents are very different because of land masses which affect the direction and force of winds, is one thing, but in discussing moving across seas and oceans in the midst of the strong monsoon winds that bring havoc and disaster all across India and the region is quite another (E.G. Balfour, Encyclopaedia Asiatica: Comprising the Indian Subcontinent, Eastern, and Southern Asia, Cosmo Publications, published 30 November 2003, p995) 
(See the next post, “Monsoons and Wind and Ocean Currents – Part IV,” regarding more of our answer to a reader’s submission about our being wrong regarding the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean and not being able to sail from Arabia to Indonesia, specifically the Malay Peninsula, in 600 B.C. Also, information on the monsoons with Lehi’s direction of sail)

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