Indian Ocean Islamic Trade and its Impact on Architecture

The project focuses on an often overlooked but important aspect of Islamic culture: impact of trade and economic activities and exchange on Indian Ocean architecture and urbanism. The spread of Islamic culture had relied heavily on trans-national cosmopolitanism that emerged from mainly mercantile exchange along the principal trade routes of the mediaeval and early-modern world. Much of this was centred on the maritime trade routes across the vast Indian Ocean region, and the overland ‘silk route’ through the Eurasian continental landmass. This project focuses on the maritime trade and its impact on architecture along the Indian Ocean littoral, with the aim to undertake further and related work in future on the overland trade route.


Completed (2023)


Research, Lectures and Repository


Western India, East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula


Aga Khan Trust for Culture Education Programme

About the project

The expansion of the Islamic world, and the culture and architecture it produced during the period, 1000-1900 CE, took place through conquest but importantly, by means of new trade and economic relations. The Indian Ocean region – its immediate hinterland but also locations deep inside the Asian landmass – was impacted by such trading interactions, which resulted in urban expansion, the creation of markets and caravanserais, other civic, defensive, commercial and religious facilities, as well as domestic architecture, and the incorporation of immured porcelain and ceramic vessels into architectural surfaces.

The project explores Western India, East Africa and the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula with a focus on how trade and cultural relationships as well as movements of people, goods and ideas between their coasts impacted on architectural and urban forms at these locations and inland cities consequentially.

The project outcomes include:

  • Image Database;
  • Publications Database;
  • Original Drawings and Visualisations;
  • Original Lectures Templates;
  • Lectures Transcripts;
  • Lectures Recording.

Key people

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    Prof Soumyen Bandyopadhyay

    Principal Investigator

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    Dr Giamila Quattrone


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    Pasquale Larosa

    Research Assistant

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    Shreya V Pai

    Research Assistant

Drawings and visualisations

Project Gallery