Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/19

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to the conquest of this whole country by the Kushans, which occurred soon after 95 A. D. The "war-like nation of the Bactrians" is the tribe of Yueh-chi or Kushans, formerly subject to China, who, after being driven westward by the Huns, overran the Greek kingdom of Bactria and set up there a powerful kingdom which, early in the second century A. D., conquered most of northern India. The conditions in the text indicate a time before this nation had commences its conquests in the valleys of the Indus and the Ganges, and probably before the great defeat of its king Kadphises by the Chinese general Panchao near Khotan, which occurred in 90 A. D. A defeat of this magnitude must certainly have been reported throughout India and would not have led our author to refer to the nation as "very warlike." Thus we arrive at two dates, 90 and 95 A. D., later than which this Periplus can not have been written.

In §§ 4 and 5 our author mentions the city of the Axumites, and the territory, coast and inland, ruled over by Zoscales; whom Henry Salt identified with the name "Za Hakale" found by him in the Tarik Negusti or Chronicles of the kings of Abyssinia. The duration of this Za Hakale's reign, according to the Chronicle, was thirteen years, and his dates Salt fixes at 76 to 89 A. D., following a note in the Chronicle that the birth of Christ took place in the eighth year of one of Za Hakale's predecessors, Zabaesi Bazen. The date of the accession of this Zabaesi Bazen was 84 years prior to that of Za Hakale. Salt's identification of the name is probably correct, but the dates as they stand in the Chronicles were written some centuries after the events, and can hardly be accepted as safe authority in the absence of other evidence. The fact that nearly all the reigns are given as lasting an even number of years, or else as so many years and six months, shows that shows that the chroniclers were only estimating the time. Salt himself was obliged to rearrange their chronology in order to fit it to known facts, and it is quite possible that his rearrangement has slipped in a whole reign before that of Za Hakale. Obviously Salt's names are worth more than his dates. South Arabian inscriptions discovered by Glaser indicate the separation of Axum from its mother-land, the Habash or Ethiopia of South Arabia, not long before the date of the Periplus; and the fact that there is no mention of Axum in any work earlier than the Periplus, and not even in Pliny, suggests the same conclusion; namely, that the Abyssinian Chronicles are unreliable, at any rate in their earlier portions. They count as independent kings a number of rulers who must have been subject to the Arabian mother-land; the order of events they relate is uncertain, and their dates are merely approximations.