Michelle Damian: A Geographic Analysis of Domestic Trade in the Late Medieval Seto Inland Sea

Friday 12/6/2013,   4:00-4:45 PM, Waite Phillips Hall 104* 

A Geographic Analysis of Domestic Trade in the Late Medieval Seto Inland Sea
Michelle Damian, Ph. D. Candidate, History Department, USC

This presentation will demonstrate how a geographic analysis of written and archaeological records can reveal new information about maritime trade in late medieval Japan (14th - 15th c). Although several Japanese scholars have examined the Records of Incoming Ships at the Hyōgo Northern Checkpoint (Hyōgo Kitaseki Irifune Nōchō) to determine major ports and cargoes, my study emphasizing the geography of the area illuminates new connections and roles of the people and places recorded in the Nōchō. I have incorporated this information into a Geographic Information System (GIS), which aids in showing which ports were vital transshipment hubs and how ships’ captains collaborated with each other in their voyages. This methodology even suggests resolutions for debates revolving around disputed port sites. Moreover investigating archaeological evidence together with the written record provides additional information about lateral trade ties as well as the flow of goods from the Inland Sea periphery to the center in the capital district. This geography-based study of trade in the medieval Inland Sea region reveals to a much greater extent than in past connections between smaller ports and the historical actors who lived and worked in them.