Barbarikon: the Lost Roman City in Pakistan
Updated: May 17
Barbarikon was an ancient city near the modern-day city of Karachi in Pakistan, a prominent center of trade during the Roman era. Historians still debate the exact location of Barbarikon, but it is believed to have been situated on the Indus Delta near the present-day town of Banbhore. The city played an important role in the region's maritime trade, serving as a key link between the Roman Empire, India, and Southeast Asia. The city was believed to be a hub for the trade of spices, textiles, and precious stones, which were highly valued in the Roman Empire.
The trade routes from Barbarikon extended across the Indian Ocean to the ports of the Red Sea, allowing for the exchange of goods and ideas between East and West. Historians have found evidence of the city's importance in ancient texts, including the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a navigational guide to the Indian Ocean written by an unknown author in the first century AD.
The Periplus mentions Barbarikon as a "market town" known for its cotton and indigo exports. It also describes the city as located at the mouth of the Indus River, allowing easy access to inland regions of the subcontinent. Barbarikon's cultural significance can be seen in the city being a melting pot of various ethnicities and religions, including Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Indians.
The city's inhabitants were known for their cosmopolitan attitudes and openness to cultural exchange, which allowed for the development of a unique blend of artistic and architectural styles. The city was also home to a significant Jewish population, as evidenced by the discovery of a Jewish cemetery in the nearby town of Ongar.
However, Barbarikon's importance waned with the decline of the Roman Empire and the rise of other regional powers, such as the Gupta Empire and the Sassanian Empire. The city gradually fell into disuse, and its exact location was lost to history until the 19th century.
Today, the city's remains can be found in the form of ruins, including walls, gateways, and cemeteries, which serve as a testament to the city's rich cultural and historical significance. The study of Barbarikoncontinues to provide insights into the complex interactions between different civilizations and cultures and the development of trade and commerce in the ancient world.