Cosmography and sources

Setting out from Damascus in 1414, Niccolò de’ Conti (ca. 1395-1469) joined an Arab caravan to Baghdad, then traveled the Tigris and Euphrates by boat to Bassora, from whence he crossed the Persian Gulf on Arab ships, first to Bandar ‘Abbās on the island of Hormuz, and then to Qalhat in the Gulf of Oman. Next he came to shore in Cambay, Pachamur, today’s Barkur (north of Mangalore), and to the now lost city of Helly. After exploring the Indian hinterlands, he sailed again along the coast to the Nestorian Christian city of Mylapore, where it was believed that Thomas the Apostle has been buried.

Leaving India, he navigated toward Sumatra, but stopped in the region of Tenasserim in Burma, where found the Ganges, which he followed as far as “Pudefitania”, which probably refers to Pudipatanam. He then entered the Indo-Chinese peninsula, following the Irrawaddy River and its affluents to visit cities such as Arakan and Pegan.

Returning to the coast, he sailed to Java, Borneo, and probably the so-called Spice Islands of Celebes and the Moluccas, after which he returned to continental Asia, disembarking at the Kingdom of Champa, in today's Vietnam. From there he began his return trip, passing through India and stopping at Quilon, Cocym, Kranganur, Calicut, and Cambay.

Finally he sailed back across the Indian Ocean toward the Red Sea, touching Socotra Island, Berbera, Aden, Gedda, and an unidentified port on the Sinai peninsula, which he then traversed on foot to Cairo, arriving in 1437. He was compelled to remain in Cairo for two years awaiting a safe conduct pass from the Sultan, and was permitted to return to Venice only in 1439, after having renounced his Christian faith and subsequent to the loss of his wife and two of his four children to the plague.