Naming the Mystery: A Story of a Civilisation


By Aishwarya Vivek Devasthali, Research Associate,Maritime History Society

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

 William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

This is a very well-known quote by Shakespeare, and is much talked about. Can anyone imagine what a mess it would be in a world if no one had a name?So, obviously and firstly, one has to get a name in order to distinguish between each other so that our world could be more orderly. Names are much more than a bunch of letters grouped together to sound pleasant. They are more than a convenience allowing people to talk to each other. They give things meaning. They bring meaning. They have significance. They define something.

The logic behind naming anything applies to each and every field ranging from chemistry to palynology, botany to zoology and even naming cyclones and storms becomes a subject of interest for everyone. Naming any such thing also invites a controversy. Naming or re-naming villages, monuments and cities, stations are currently a topic for hot discussions, and Archaeology remains no exception when it comes to such discussions.

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The Maritime History of Mumbai’s names

By Amruta Talawadekar, Research Associate,Maritime History Society

‘Names of places form an important part of our history. They stand as memorials of men and events in the past. They throw light on the scenes and movements of former ages, and therefore cannot be neglected in our study of the development of our country.’


As rightly indicated by late Dr. Patterson in ‘Place – Names’, names of a place are crucial and are derived from various cultural roots that the place was once known for. Mumbai, for example, has had a variety of names attached to it, prior to its official name change in 1995. This article talks about the various names that Mumbai had and its relevance to the maritime history of the city.

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