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Trade with Sumer 
Sumerian texts repeatedly refer to three important centers with which they traded: Magan, Dilmun, and Meluhha. Magan is usually identified with Oman. This identification, however, is Assyrian; the Sumerian localization of Magan was probably Oman. Dilmun was a trade distribution center for goods originating that might be in islands of Bahrain, Eastern Province (Saudi Arabia), Oman, or the Iranian coast in the Persian Gulf. The location of Meluhha, however, is hotly debated. There are scholars today who confidently identify Meluhha with the Harappan Civilization on the basis of the extensive evidence of trading contacts between Sumer and this region. Sesame oil was probably imported from the Indus valley into Sumer: the Sumerian word for this oil is illu (Akkadian: ellu). In Dravidian languages of South India el or ellu stands for sesame.
There is extensive presence of Harappan seals and cubical weight measures in Mesopotamian urban sites. Specific items of high volume trade are timber and specialty wood such as ebony, for which large ships were used. Luxury items also appear, such as lapis lazuli mined at a Harappan colony at Shortugai (Badakshan in northern Afghanistan), which was transported to Lothal, a port city in Gujarat, and shipped from there to Oman, Bahrain, and Sumer.
Indus Valley versus Africa 
A number of scholars suggest that Meluhha was the Sumerian name for the Indus Valley Civilization. Finnish scholars Asko and Simo Parpola identify Meluhha (earlier variant Me-lah-ha) from earlier Sumerian documents with Dravidian mel akam "high abode" or "high country". Many items of trade such as wood, minerals, and gemstones were indeed extracted from the hilly regions near the Indus settlements. They further claim that Meluhha is the origin of the Sanskrit mleccha, meaning "barbarian, foreigner".
Earlier texts (c. 2200 BC) seem to indicate that Meluhha is to the east, suggesting either the Indus valley or India. Sargon of Akkad was said to have "dismantled the cities, as far as the shore of the sea. At the wharf of Agade, he docked ships from Meluhha, ships from Magan."
However, much later texts documenting the exploits of King Assurbanipal of Assyria (668–627 BC), long after the Indus Valley civilization had ceased to exist, seem to imply that Meluhha is to be found somewhere near Egypt, in Africa.
There is sufficient archaeological evidence for the trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Impressions of clay seals from the Indus Valley city of Harappa were evidently used to seal bundles of merchandise, as clay seal impressions with cord or sack marks on the reverse side testify. A number of these Indus Valley seals have been found at Ur and other Mesopotamian sites. The Persian-Gulf style of circular stamped rather than rolled seals, also known from Dilmun, that appear at Lothal in Gujarat, India, and Failaka Island (Kuwait), as well as in Mesopotamia, are convincing corroboration of the long-distance sea trade. What the commerce consisted of is less sure: timber and precious woods, ivory, lapis lazuli, gold, and luxury goods such as carnelian and glazed stone beads, pearls from the Persian Gulf, and shell and bone inlays, were among the goods sent to Mesopotamia in exchange for silver, tin, woolen textiles, perhaps oil and grains and other foods. Copper ingots, certainly, bitumen, which occurred naturally in Mesopotamia, may have been exchanged for cotton textiles and chickens, major products of the Indus region that are not native to Mesopotamia—all these have been instanced.
Later Period 
In the Assyrian and Hellenistic periods, cuneiform texts continue to use (or revive) old place names - giving a sense of continuity between contemporary events and events of the distant past. For example, Media is referred to as "the land of the Gutians", a people who had disappeared from history around 2000 BC.
Meluhha also appears in these texts, in contexts which suggest that "Meluhha" and "Magan" were kingdoms adjacent to Egypt. Assurbanipal writes about his first march against Egypt, "In my first campaign I marched against Magan, Meluhha, Tarka, king of Egypt and Ethiopia, whom Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, the father who begot me, had defeated, and whose land he brought under his way." In the Hellenistic period, the term is sometimes used to refer to Ptolemaic Egypt, as in its account of a festival celebrating the conclusion of the Sixth Syrian War.
These references do not necessarily mean that early references to Meluhha also referred to Egypt. Direct contacts between Sumeria and the Indus Valley had ceased even during the Mature Harappan phase when Oman and Bahrain (Magan and Dilmun) became intermediaries. After the sack of Ur by the Elamites and subsequent invasions in Sumeria, its trade and contacts shifted west and Meluhha passed almost into mythological memory. The resurfacing of the name could simply reflect cultural memory of a rich and distant land, its use in records of Achaemenid and Seleukid military expeditions serving to aggrandise those kings.
- McIntosh, Jane (2007). The ancient Indus Valley: New perspectives. ABC-CLIO/Greenwood. p. 185. ISBN 1-57607-907-4
- Parpola, Asko; Parpola, Simo (1975). "On the relationship of the Sumerian Toponym Meluhha and Sanskrit Mleccha". Studia Orientalia 46: 205–238.
- Hansman, John (1973). "A "Periplus" of Magan and Meluhha". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 36 (3): 554–587.
- John Keay (2000). India: A History. p. 16.
- Van De Mieroop, Marc (1997). The Ancient Mesopotamian City. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 44.
- Sachs & Hunger (1988). Astronomical Diaries & Related Texts from Babylonia, vol.1. Vienna: Verlad der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaft. pp. –330 Obv.18.
- Sachs & Hunger (1988). Astronomical Diaries & Related Texts from Babylonia, vol.2. Vienna: Verlad der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaft. pp. –168 A Obv.14–15.
Further reading 
- Julian Reade (ed.) The Indian Ocean in Antiquity. London: Kegan Paul Intl. 1996
- Meluhha and Agastya : Alpha and Omega of the Indus Script by Iravatham Mahadevan