While large and powerful kingdoms or empires likely had a role to play in creating the stable and prosperous conditions that helped economic and cultural exchanges flourish, it is also important to understand the role that small-scale fishing communities played in the development of maritime activity in the Indian Ocean. In order to understand the significance of these communities and how they tied into wider trans-oceanic trade, Ray examines a range of evidence from literary texts like the Periplus, excavated boats, and iconographic representations, to ethnographic data and living traditions.