Periplus of the Erythraean Sea/Notes

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(Numerals refer to paragraphs similarly numbered in the text.)

Title. Periplus was the name applied to a numerous class of writings in Roman times, which answered for sailing-chart and traveler's hand-book. The title might be rendered as "Guide-Book to the Erythraen Sea."

Title. Erythraean Sea was the term applied by Greek and Roman geographers to the Indian Ocean, including its adjuncts, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Erythra means Red, so that the modern name perpetuates the ancient; but we are assured by Agatharchides that it means, not Red Sea, but Sea of King Erythras, following a Persian legend.

The following is the account given by Agatharchides of the origin of the name: (De Mari Erythraeo, § 5.)

"The Persian account is after this manner. There was a man famous for his valor and wealth, by name Erythras, a Persian by birth, son of Myozaeus. His home was by the sea, facing toward islands which are not now desert, but were so at the time of the empire of the Medes, when Eryrhras lived. In the winter-time he used to go to Pasargadae, making the journey at his own cost; and he indulged in these changes of scene now for profit, and now for some pleasure of his own life. On a time the lions charged into a large flock of his mares, and some were slain; while the rest, unharmed but terror-stricken at what they had seen, fled to the sea. A strong wind was blowing from the land, and as they plunged into the waves in their terror, they were carried beyond their footing; and their fear continuing, they swam through the sea and came out on the shore of the island opposite. With them went one of the herdsmen, a youth of marked bravery, who thus reached the shore by clinging to the shoulders of a mare. Now Erythras looked for his mares, and not seeing them, first put together a raft of small size, but secure in the strength of its building; and happening on a favorable wind, he pushed off into the strait, across which he was swiftly carried by the waves, and so found his mares and found their keeper also. And then, being pleased with the island, he built a stronghold at a place well chosen by the shore, and brought hither from the main-land opposite such as were dissatisfied with their life there, and subsequently settled all the other uninhabited islands with a numerous population; and such was the glory ascribed to him by the popular voice because of these his deeds, that even down to our own time they have called that sea, infinite in extent, Erythraean. And so, for the reason here set forth, it is to be well distinguished (for to say Erýthra thálatta, Sea of Erythras, is a very different thing from Thálatta erythrá, Red Sea); for the one commemorates the most illustrious man of that sea, while the other refers to the color of the water. Now the one explanation of the name, as due to the color, is false (for the sea is not red), but the other, ascribing it to the man who ruled there, is the true one, as the Persian story testifies."

Here is manifestly a kernel of truth, referring, however, to a much earlier time than the Empire of the Medes and their capital Pasargadae. It suggest the theory of a Cushite-Elamite migration around Arabia, as set forth by Glaser and Hommel: the story of a people from Elam, who settled in the Bahrein Islands and then spread along South Arabia, leaving their epithet of "Red" or "ruddy" in many places, including the sea that washed their vessels: "Sea of the Red People," or, according to Agatharchides, "of the Red King." See under §§ 4, 23, and 27.

1. Designated ports.—Trade was limited to ports of entry established, or, as the text has it, "designated" by law, and supervised by government officials who levied duties. There were many such ports on the Red Sea under the Ptolemies. There were also ports of entry maintained by the Nabataean Kingdom, by the Homerite Kingdom in Yemen, and by the newly-established Kingdom of the Axumites; the later, possibly, farmed to Egyptian Greeks, now Roman subjects.

Fabricius objects to "designated," and translates "frequented," thereby straining the meaning of the word and losing its obvious description of historical facts.

Under the early Ptolemies, who succeeded Alexander the Great, Egypt went far toward recovering her former wealth and glory. Under Ptolemy II, called Philadelphus (B. C. 285–246) the canal between the Nile and the Red Sea (originally dug by one of the Sesostrises, about the 20th century B. C., reopened under the Empire in the 15th century, and partly reopened by the Persians under Darius in the 5th century), was once more open to commerce; various caravan-routes, carefully provided with wells and stopping-places, were opened between the river and the sea, and where they terminated ports of entry were established and colonized. Egyptian shipping on the Red Sea was encouraged, and regular trade was opened with the Sabaeans of South Arabia and the tribes of the Somali coast. The names of all these ports, and a description of this newly-created commerce, in terms of romanic enthusiasm, are given by Agatharchides in his work on the Erythraean Sea. At the time this Periplus, the remaining settlements seem to be Arsinoe, Myos-hormus, Berenice, Ptolemais and Adulis. The other places mentioned by Agatharchides had probably lost their importance as the Egyptian ships ventured farther beyond the straits and frequented the richer markets that fringed the Gulf of Aden.

1. Mussel Harbor (Myos-hormus), is identified with the bay within the headland now known as Ras Abu Somer, 27° 12′ N., 35° 55′ E. It was founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus B. C. 274. He selected it as the principal port of Egyptian trade with India, in preference to Arsinoe (near the modern Suez), which was closer to the Egyptian capital, but difficult of access because of the bad passage through the upper waters of the Red Sea. Myos-hormos was distant six or seven days from Coptos on the Nile, along a road opened through the desert by Ptolemy Philadelphus. Strabo (XVII, I, 45) says "at present Coptos and Myos-hormos are in repute, and they are frequented. Formerly the camel-merchants traveled in the night, directing their course by observing the stars, and, like the mariners, carried with them a supply of water. But now watering-places are provided; water is also obtained by digging to a great depth, and rainwater is found although rain rarely falls, which is also collected in reservoirs." Coptos is the modern Koft, in the bend of the Nile.

Vessels bound for Africa and Southern Arabia left Myos-hormos about the autumnal equinox, when the N. W. wind then prevailing carried them quickly down the gulf. Those bound for India or Ceylon left in July, and if they cleared the Red Sea before the first of September they had the monsoon to assist their passage across the ocean.

1. Sailing—The ship used by the author of the Periplus probably did not differ very materially from the types created in Egypt long before, as depicted in the reliefs of the Punt Expedition in the Der-el-Bahri temple at Thebes, and elsewhere. By the first century A. D. the single square sail, with two yards, each much longer than the height of the sail, which distinguished the shipping of the 15th century B. C., had been modified by omitting the lower yard and by increasing the height of the mast; while a triangular topsail had come into general use. The artimon or sloping foremast, later developed into a bowsprit, was not generally used, even in the Mediterranean, until the 2d century. The accompanying illustration of a modern Burmah  

Periplus 053 Ancient Egyptian Ship.png

(From a sketch by R. T. Pritchett)

trader, which perpetuates in many ways the shipbuilding ideas of ancient Egypt, probably gives a better idea of our author's ship than any of the Greek or Roman coins or reliefs, which were all of Mediterranean shipping, built for different conditions and purposes.

In the Indian Ocean navigation depended on the trade-winds, and voyages were times so that the ship could run before the wind in either direction, without calling the rudder into much use. This was at the quarter, the steersman plying the tiller from his station high in stern, overlooking the whole vessel.

Hippalus' discovery of the periodicity of the trade-winds, described in § 57, carried with it a knowledge of steering the boat somewhat off the wind, to reach a destination farther south than the straight course would make possible. This was done partly by the rudder, but largely by shifting the yard.

The lateen sail, as exemplified by the Arab dhow, the Bombay kotia, and so on, came into use about the 4th century B. C., but was used by Arab and Hindu, rather than Egyptian or Greek.


See Chatterton: Sailing Ships and their Story; Torr: Ancient Ships; Holmes: Ancient and Modern Ships; Pritchett: Sketches of Shipping and Craft; Lindsay: History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce; Charnock: History of Marine Architecture; Jal: Archéologie Navale.

1. Stadia.—Three stadia were in use in the Roman world at this time,—the Phileterian of 525 to the degree, the Olympic of 600, and that of Eratosthenes, of 700. Reduced to English measure this would make the Phileterian stadium equivalent to about 650 feet, the Olympic about 600 feet, and that of Eratosthenes about 520 feet. The stadium of the Periplus appears to be that of Eratosthenes. Generally speaking, ten stadia of the Periplus to the English statute mile would be a fair calculation. But it must not be forgotten that all distances named in this text are approximations, based principally on the length of time consumed in going from place to place, which naturally varied according to direction of the wind and current, of sailing-course, and other factors as well. The distance is generally given in round numbers; and without any means of arriving at an exact calculation, the figures in the text can be considered only as approximations.

According to the system of measurements laid down by Ptolemy, the circumference of the earth was estimated at 180,000 stadia, with 500 stadia to the degree.

The true length of the degree is 600 stadia.

The Olympic or standard Greek stadium (being the length of the race-course at Olympia), was 600 Greek feet, or 8 to the Roman mile. There was a later stadium of which 7½ went to the Roman mile (1000 paces, 4854 English feet). This, the Phileterian stadium, survived in Arabic science, and thence in the calculations of mediaeval Europe; being very nearly the English furlong.

According to Col. Leake's calculations,

1 Olympic stadium = 606.75 English feet.
10 "" = 6067.50 ""
1 Nautical mile = 6075.50 ""
1 Admiralty knot = 6086.50 English feet.
or, by Clarke's measurement, Olympic stadium 6087.11 ""
10 Olympic stadia = 1 minute of the equator.
600 "" = 1 degree""
1 Roman mile = 1000 passus = 4854 English feet.
1 Old English mile = 1000 paces = 5090 ""
1 Modern Statute " = = 5280 ""
75 Roman miles = = 1 degree.
(or 75.09 to be exact)
4 Roman miles = 19,416 ft., English = 1 marine league.
The earth's circumference = 21,600 nautical miles, or
= 24,874 to 25,020 statute miles.
A degree on the equator = 69.1 to 69.5 statute miles.

The Tordesillas geographers, in 1494, gave 21.625 leagues to the equatorial degree. They were wrong, but followed Eratosthenes, who made the globe 1-16th larger than it really is.

Vespucci, following Ptolemy and Alfragan, figured 6000 leagues, or 24,000 Roman miles, as the measure of the earth's circumference; so that dividing by 360, 16⅔ leagues made a degree.

Columbus, following various Arabian geographers, made the degree 56⅔ miles, or 14⅙ leagues.

All this confusion goes back to some deductions based on Ptolemy.

By 1517, according to Navarrete, the valuation of 17½ leagues to the degree had become general. At the treaty of Zaragoza, in 1529, that ratio was admitted on both sides.

The correct figure is very close to 17½ leagues.

All ancient calculations were based on dead reckoning. The log-line did come into use until 1521.


See Vivien de Saint-Martin, Le Nord de l'Afrique dans l'Antiquité grecque et romaine, Paris, 1863: p. 197.

Samuel Edward Dawson: The Line of Demarcation of Pope Alexander VI, and that of the Treaty of Tordesillas, in Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, 1899, Vol. V. § 2, pp. 467 ff.

1. Berenice. (named for the mother of Ptolemy Philadelphus), is identified with Umm-el-Ketef Bay, below Ras Benas, 23° 55′ N., and about 35° 35′ E. It is 258 Roman miles, or 11 days, from Coptos, by a road across the desert. There are ruins still visible, even the arrangement of streets being clear; in the center is a small Egyptian temple with hieroglyphics and bas-reliefs of Greek wormanship. There is a fine natural harbor, but the bar is now impossible in low water; and Strabo (XVI, IV, 6) mentions dangerous rocks and violent winds from the sea.

At the time of the Periplus, Berenice seems to have been the leading port of Egypt for the Eastern trade, and was probably the home of the author.

2. Berber Country.—This word means more than the "land of the barbarians," and seems, like our modern "Barbary States," to refer to the Berber race, as representing the ancient Hamitic stock of North Africa.

The name itself seems to be foreign to the people, and is probably related to the Arabic bar, a desert; and its application to North Africa recalls that ancient race-opposition about the Gulf of Aden, when the Red Men, or ruddy people, overcame the "children of the desert"; who spread over all North Africa and carried the name with them, submitting time after time to similar Semitic conquests, Phoenician, Carthaginian or Saracen.

The occurrence of the name throughout North Africa is remarkable. We have the modern Somali port of Berbera, the Nile town and district of Berber (and its inhabitants, the Barbara, Barberins or Barbarins, who appear in the ancient Theban inscriptions as Beraberata); the Barbary States, the modern Berbers or Kabyles; and at the western extremity, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, still another tribe calling themselves Berabra.

The ancient Egyptians extended the word to include the meanings of savage and outlander, or public enemies in general; and from them the Greeks took the word into their own language, with like meanings.

The Berbers of the Periplus probably included the ancestors of the Bejas between the Nile and the Red Sea, the Danakils between the Upper Nile, Abyssinia and the Gulf of Aden, and the Somals and Gallas.

2. Cave-Dwelling Fish-Eaters, Wild-Flesh-Eaters, Calf-Eaters.—The original names, Ichthyophagi (Troglodytae), Agriophagi, Moschophagi, add nothing to our ethnic knowledge, being merely appellations given by the Greeks; and they are therefore translated. These tribes are represented by the modern Bisharins. "Calf-eaters" seems to mean eaters after the style of calves, i. e. of green things, rather than eaters of calves. Some commentators would replace Agriophagi by Acridophagi, locust-eaters.

2. Meroe was the final capital of the Kingdom of Nubia. It became the royal seat about 560 B. C. and continued as such until a few years after this Periplus, when the kingdom, worn out by continued attacks by the tribes of the desert and the negroes of the Sudan, fell to pieces. It was located on the Nile, below the 6th cataract, but just within the fertile region that begins above the confluence of the Atbara; and is identified with the modern Begerawiyeh, about 16° 55′ N.

The early Kingdom of Egypt comprised the Nile delta and the fertile valley of the river as far as the 1st cataract, the modern Assuan. Here a narrow gorge made the stream impassible for boats, and formed a natural barrier. Above Assuan the desert hugs the river close until above the 5th cataract, when it gives place to open fertile country. Between the island of Elephantine and Assuan, and the site of Meroe, the distance is about 480 miles in a direct line, and by the river about 1000 miles. This narrow strip of river-bed was Nubia proper. The Atbara, flowing into the Nile some 40 miles below Meroe, rises in northern Abyssinia or Tigre; at Khartum, about 150 miles above Meroe, the river branches again; the Blue Nile flowing down from the mountains of Central Abyssinia or Amhara, and the White Nile from the Nyanza lakes. These regions were more or less subject to Nubia at different periods, but their population varied greatly. The Abyssinian highlands were peopled by a Hamitic stock originally related to the Egyptians as well as to the still uncivilized tribes of the eastern and western desert, but with a mixture of negro blood and a strong strain of Arabian origin. The upper reaches of the Nile were peopled by various negro tribes, entirely distinct from Egyptian or Berber|Of course, none of this now seems to be correct. From the mouth of the Red Sea there was a regular trade-route across the Tigre highlands to the Atbara River and so to the Nile; and other routes reached Meroe from the Sudan and Uganda. Thence the products of trade found their way down-stream to Elephantine, beyond which no negro was permitted to go. Here was the market for all Egypt, and the modern town, Assuan, repeats its history, as the very name means "market." From the Sudan came gold, ebony and ivory, panther skins and ostrich feathers; from the Nubian desert east of the Nile, gold; from the Red Sea across the Tigre, myrrh, frankincense, and various fragrant woods and resins: all of which were in constant demand for the Egyptian treasury and the service of the temples, and provided a constant reason for Egyptian control of this important avenue of commerce.

In the early period of the Egyptian nation the power centered in the Delta, but a loose control seems to have been maintained between the 1st and 2d cataracts over tribes appearing in the inscriptions as "Wa-wat," probably negroes. During the prosperous period of the Old Kingdom, between the 30th and 25th centuries B. C., the river-routes were kept in order, and Egyptian ships sailed the Red Sea as far as the myrrh-country. Then came a period of disorder and the fall of the Delta dynasties, followed in the 22d century by the rise of the Theban or Middle Kingdom, the dynasties of the Amenemhets and Sesostrises. These kings fully conquered the river tribes to the 2d cataract, as well as the "Nubian troglodytes" of the eastern desert, where they developed the gold-mines that added so much to their wealth and power. In this period, from the 22d to the 18th centuries B. C., the name "Cush" first appears in the inscriptions, indicating, as Glaser thought, a migration overland to the Nile by the wandering Cushite-Elamite tribes who had left their home at the head of the Persian Gulf some 300 years previously, and who, after settling in the incense-producing regions of Southern Arabia and Somaliland, whence they had opened trade with Mesopotamia, had now traced the same trade to its other great market in Egypt. The name "Cush" seems to have included not only the Nile valley between the 3d and 6th cataracts, but much of the highlands. These people, apparently a mongrel race, were held in great contempt by the Egyptians, whose annals contain numerous references such as the following: "Impost of the wretched Cush: gold, negro slaves, male and female; oxen and calves; bulls; vessels laden with ivory, ebony, all the good products of this country, together with the harvests of this country."

After the fall of the XIIth dynasty, 1788 B. C., came a period of feudal disorder, followed by an invasion from Arabia and a foreign dynasty, the Hyksos, probably Minaean Beduins. This was ended by the explusion of the Arabs and the establishment of the Empire under the XVIIIth dynasty (1580–1350 B. C.). These great Pharaohs carried the Egyptian arms to their widest extent, from Asia Minor to the 4th cataract and possibly even farther south. The collapse of the Empire at the death of Rameses III (1167 B. C.) left Nubia still Egyptian. Invasions from the west resulted in a series of Libyan dynasties, which began, under Sheshonk or Shishak I, by reasserting sovereignty over Syria and by plundering the temple of Solomon and the treasures of the newly-established Kingdom of Israel; but the latter part of this administration was so inefficient that Theban princes established in Nubia separated from Egypt and formed a new kingdom, now called Ethiopia (indicating a growing Arabian settlement), with capital at Napata, below the 4th cataract (the modern Gebel Barkal), subsequently invading Egypt and establishing their power over the whole valley, from 722 to 663 B. C. Then came the Assyrian invasions, first by Esarhaddon and then the definite conquest of Egypt proper by Assurbanipal in 661 B. C. The ruin of Thebes is vividly described by the prophet Nahum (III, 8–10). The Nubians withdrew to Napata. There they were attacked by the restored power of Egypt under Psammetichus II, and about 560 B. C., transferred their capital to Meroe; a much better location, less open to attack from the north, in a fertile region instead of a narrow gorge in the desert, and in the direct path of the rapidly-growing immigration and trade from the south and east. Here they checked the army of Cambyses, which made Egypt a Persian province in 525 B. C. The capital fell into his hands for a time, but the country ws not subdued. The conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, 332 B. C., left them undisturbed; and with his successors, the Ptolemies, they maintained an increasing commerce, notwithstanding the active policy then pursued to assert Egyptian supremacy in the Red Sea.

(See Breasted: A History of Egypt. N. Y., 1905.)

In 30 B. C. Egypt became a Roman province and the Nubians met a different foe. Their queen, Candace, attacked the Egyptians, and a punitive expedition by Petronius destroyed their power. (Strabo, XVII, 1, 54.) Gradually the enfeebled kingdom was engulfed by the tribes of the desert; and Pliny, whose Natural History was completed in 77 A. D., notes that of a long list of cities and towns above Philae, described a century before, Nero's embassy in 67 A. D. could find hardly a trace, and that the capital itself, Meroe, was but a collection of a few wretched huts. National decay had done its work; and the few remnants left from the attacks of the Berbers had joined the new "Kingdom of the Axumites" in the highlands to the south-east.

In later times, under the Byzantine Empire, Nubia again became a center of culture and prosperity. Its new capital, the modern Khartum, became a leader in Christian thought, and maintained its influence even after the Saracens had overrun Egypt; only finally to repeat history by being utterly destroyed by a new irruption from the desert, under the spur of Islam, and to leave again to the Abyssinian highlands the defence of what remained of its Monophysite Christianity.

Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, II, 9) has an account of a war of the Egyptians against the Ethiopians, under the command of Moses. The Ethiopians were finally driven back into their capital, Saba, "to which city Cambyses afterwards gave the name of Meroe, in compliment to his sister. . . . it being situated at the confluence of the rivers Astaphus and Astabora with the Nile." The city was finally delivered up to the Egyptians as the condition of Moses' marriage with the Ethiopian King's daughter Tharbis, who had fallen in love with him.

Aside from the obvious anachronisms in this story, one fact is of interest: the name of the capital, Saba, indicates that Nubia was ruled, if not mainly peopled, by Arabs, who had followed the ancient trade-routes from the mouth of the Red Sea.

Glaser (Punt und die südarabischen Reiche, 42–3) notes that Napata also is a Semitic name, probably Nabat, allied to Nabatu of the Assyrian inscriptions, to Nebaioth (son of Ishmael), and to the later Nabataeans of § 19.

Herodotus (II, 8) refers to the "mountains of Arabia" extending from north to south along the Nile, stretcing up to the Erythraean Sea, and says that at its greatest width from east to west it is a two-months' journey; and that "eastward its confines produce frankincense." Here also is an indication of the connection of Nubia with Somaliland, confirmed by the pompous titles of the later Cushite kings in Meroes (Ed. Meyer Geschichte Aegyptens, 359): "Kings of the four quarters of the world and of the nine distant peoples."

3. Ptolemais.—This is identified with Er-rih island, 18° 9′ N., 38° 27′ E., the southern portion of the Tokar delta. It was fortified by Ptolemy Philadelphus (B. C. 285–246), and became the center of the elephant-trade. Being situated near the Nubian forest, where elephants abounded, its location was very favorable. The Egyptians had formerly imported their elephants from Asia; but the cost was high and the supply uncertain, and Ptolemy sent his own hunters to Nubia, against the will of the inhabitants, to obtain a nearer supply.

From very early times there was a trade-route from the Red Sea to the Nile at this point, terminating near Meroe, and corresponding closely to the railway recently built between Berber on the Nile and Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

3. Adulis.—The present port is Massowa, center of the Italian colony of Eritrea, which lies near the mouth of the bay of Adulis. The ancient name is preserved in the modern village of Zula. The location has been described by J. Theodore Bent, (Sacred City of the Ethiopians, London, 1896: pp. 228–230). It is on the west side of Annesley Bay, and numerous black basalt ruins are still visible there. Adulis was one of the colonies of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and was always of commercial importance because it was the natural port for Abyssinia and the Sudan. It seems to have been built by Syrian Greeks. Here was the famous inscription reciting the conquests of Ptolemy Euergetes (B. C. 247–223) with an addition by Aizanas, or El Abreha, King of Abyssinia about 330 A. D., for a copy of which we are indebted to the Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes.

4. Coloe.—The ruins of Coloe were found by Bent at Kohaito (Sacred City of the Ethiopians, Chap. XII.). It is a large flat plateau many miles in extent, high above the surrounding country (7000 feet) and thus cool and comfortable. It seems to have been the main settlement, and Adulis the trading-post, which was inhabited no more than necessary because of its hot climate. There is a fine dam, 219 feet long, and in one place 74 feet 4 inches above bed-rock, with sluice-gates 5 feet 3 inches wide; the whole built of large cut stones without mortar. When in use a large lake would have formed. There are numerous ruins of stone temples and dwellings; the architecture resembling that at Adulis apparently Ptolemaic Greek. The town covered many acres.

Glaser thinks Kohaito is too near Adulis to be the ancient Coloe; but he seems to overlook the stiff climb up the mountain, which would naturally take longer in proportion than the subsequent road over the table-land.

The name Coloe, Glaser notes (Punt und die südarabischen Reiche, 23) is the same as the Arabic Kala'a, (which appears in the Adulis inscription of King Aizanas), and is derived from the same sources as the Calaei Islands and Calon mountains in southeastern Arabia (in §§ 345). He derives the Alabaei Islands in this § 4 from the same tribal name, Kalhat, via Halâhila.

4. Ivory.—In the inscriptions of Harkhuf, an Assuan noble under King Mernere of the VIth Dynasty (B. C. 2600) occurs the first definite record of ivory as a commercial article in Egypt.

"I descended (from the country of Yam, southern Nubia) with 300 asses laden with incense, ebony, grain, panthers, ivory, throw-sticks, and every good product. I was more vigilant than any caravan-conductor who had been sent to Yam before." (Breasted: Ancient Records of Egypt, I, 336.)

There are numerous records of the receipt of ivory, in commerce and as tribute, under the XVIIIth Dynasty; coming from Tehenu (Libya, but cf. the Tenessis of Strabo); Punt (Somaliland), God's Land (S.W. Arabia), Gnbti (vicinity of Kuria Muria Islands), Cush (Nubia), the South Countries, Retenu (Syria) and Isy (Cyprus). Also articles made of ivory: chairs, tables, chests, statues, and whips.

Similar records occur under the XIXth and XXth dynasties; the latter, in the Papyrus Harris, being an item in a list of gifts of Rameses III to the god Ptah.

King Solomon's throne was of ivory, overlaid with gold; and his "navy of Tharshish" brought him the ivory every three years, together with gold and silver, apes and peacocks (I Kings X, 18–22).

4. Cyeneum is the modern Sennaar—Eastern Sudan.

4. City of the people called Auxumites.—This is the first known reference to the city of Axum, and serves very nearly to fix the date of its foundation. Pliny and other writers of this period mention the Asachae living south of Meroe and known as elephant-hunters; and their stronghold, Oppidum Sacae, probably the same settlement as Axum. Bion speaks of Asachae five days from the sea, and Ptolemy locates a "city of the Sacae" in the Tigre highlands, but has no knowledge of Axum. Pliny (VI, 34) also speaks of the Ascitae who brought myrrh and frankincense to South Arabia on their rafts supported on inflated skins, and suggests a derivation of the name from askos, bladder; but both names reproduce rather the mountainous coast of South Arabia, east of Hadramaut, called Hasik (Asich in § 33 of the Periplus), and there is evidently an ethnic and geographic connection between Hasik, the Asachae or Ascitae, and Axum.

Axum, the ancient capital and sacred city of the kingdom we call Abyssinia, is still the place of coronation for its kings. Abyssinia is the Latinized form of Habash, while its people call themselves Itiopyavan, Hellenized into Aethiopians. Habash is translated by modern Arabs as "mixture," while Herodotus explained Aethiopia as "land of the sunburned faces;" each explanation being, probably, incorrect. The Habashat appear likewise along the eastern terraces of South Arabia (Mahra) where they were the dominant race for several centuries before the Christian era. Pausanias (de Situ Graeciae, VI, 26–9), speaks of a "deep bay of the Erythraean Sea, having islands, Abasa and Sacaea" (probably Kuria Muria, Masira, and Socotra); the Roman writers mention an Abissa Polis in this region, and Stephanus of Byzantium says, "beyond the Sabaeans are the Chatramotitiae (Hadramaut) and the Abaseni." From the Egyptian inscriptions we learn that one of the Punt-people visited in their trading voyages was called Hbsti, and dwelt, apparently, not only in Mahra, but also in Socotra and Eastern Somaliland.

Glaser derives the name Habash from a Mahri word, meaning "gatherers." Synonymous with this is Aethiopian or Itiopyavan, which he derives from atyôb, "incense;" and it is significant that even in the time of the Periplus their ancient home in Mahra was still the "Frankincense Country." As "gatherers of incense," then, we have the mission of the Asachae or Axumites. This people, like their predecessors from the same region, the Cushites who traded with Babylon and Thebes, a branch of whom, "intermarrying with the natives" (Periplus, § 16), helped found the Nubian Kingdom, and like the Punt or Poen-people of the Theban inscriptions, left their settlements in Mahra, Socotra and Somaliland (the true frankincense country) and migrated westward, settling finally in the Tigre highlands, where for the first time they established an enduring power. But their migration was different from the others, in that it was due to warfare and oppression rather than trade.

In the 3d century B. C. the Habashat or "gatherers" were supreme in their "incense-lands," and their allies and, perhaps, relatives, the Sabaeans, worked with them in the spice and incense trade to Egypt, then at the height of its power under the Ptolemies. The prosperity of the trade is attested by Agatharchides. The Habashat held Socotra and Cape Guardafui, and much of the East African coast. But the succeeding centuries were turbulent. In order along the south Arabian coast, from west to east, were the Homerites (Himyar), the Sabaeans, Hadramaut, Kataban, and the Habashat. Beyond were tribes under Persian influence. With the establishment of the Parthian, or Arsacid, empire, came a wave of conquest by the Parthians throughout eastern Arabia. Almost simultaneously came the African campaigns of Ptolemy Euergetes, said to have reached Mosyllum on the Somali coast (Periplus, § 10). The two incense-lands were hard hit. Then came the conquest of Kataban by Hadramaut and a threatening policy by Himyar against the Sabaeans. Glaser has edited an inscription telling of an alliance of Djadarot, King of the Habashat, with three successive kings of Saba, for mutual protection against Hadramaut and Himyar. This dates from about 75 B. C. Isidorus of Charax Spasini, writing in the time of Augustus, mentions a chief of the Omanites in the Incense-Country, named Goaisos (cf. the language of the Habashat, Geez) who was apparently of the same race. But very soon afterwards the Parthians renewed their attack from the East; Himyar overthrew Saba and demolished its port, and Hadramaut moved on Habash. Egypt was in a bad way, and the Romans who were taking over its government were encouraging a direct sea-trade from India, receiving Indian embassies, and breaking up the system which had so long closed the Arabian gulf to Indian shipping. Despoiled of their incense-terraces in Arabia and of their commercial activities at Guardafui, the Habashat sought a new home; and in the Tigre highlands built their stronghold, the Oppidium Sacae, which soon became the city of Axum. It lay across the natural trade-route from India to Egypt; from Adulis, the sea-port, to the Atbara River, was no great journey, and through a fertile country instead of the desert to the north. Here, then, so long as the "Berbers" of the lowlands could be dominated, a state could flourish; and hence the picture of its King Zoscales in § 5, "miserly in his ways and always striving for more." For six centuries the new kingdom of Abyssinia kept up its alliance with Rome and Constantinople against its ancient enemies the Homerites, and their allies the Parthians and Persians. The kingdom grew apace, and twice it overran southern Arabia; and not until the later Mohammedan conquests was its power broken and its people shut up in their mountains, there to preserve, for hundreds of years unknown to the rest of the outside world, their Monophysite Christianity.

The Abyssinian Chronicles make Zoscales at the time of the Periplus, the successor of a long line of kings at Axum. It is probable that Habashat had frequented the country for a century before, as the power of Egypt receded, but as colonists rather than state-builders, until driven from Arabia; and that most of Zoscales' predecessors were local chiefs and not tribal kings. The final migration Glaser places not far from the Christian era.

The Abyssinians were converted to Christianity about 330 A. D. Before that time their strongest outside influence may have been Buddhism. James Fergusson (History of Architecture, I, 142–3) notes


Periplus 064 Axum.png
Monoliths at Axum.

that the great monolith at Axum is of Indian inspiration; "the idea Egyptian, but the details Indian. An Indian nine-storied pagoda, translated in Egyptian in the first century of the Christian era!" He notes its likeness to such Indian temples as Bodh-Gaya, and says it represents "that curious marriage of Indian with Egyptian art which we would expect to find in the spot where the two people came in contact, and enlisted architecture to symbolize their commercial union." Such an alliance was to the advantage of the Hindu traders. The Homerites stopped their vessels at Ocelis on the Arabian shore (Periplus, § 25), taking their cargoes thence to Egypt by caravan; here was a new power that allowed them to trade to Avalites and Adulis, and even to march overland and take their wares to Egypt themselves. Ujjeni and Bharukacha, Axum and Alexandria were in close connection during the first and second Christian centuries, and


Periplus 065 Bodh-Gaya Temple.png
Temple of Bodh-Gaya, India, dating from early in the 6th century.

the observer of the early relations between Buddhism and Christianity may find along this frequented route greater evidence of mutual influence than along the relatively obstructed overland routes through Parthia to Antioch and Ephesus. By the third century, with the decline of Rome, the growth of Antioch and Byzantium, and the fall of the Arsacid dynasty, the tendancy would be the other way.

See Glaser: Die Abessinier in Arabien und Afrika, Munich, 1895. (A masterly marshaling of inscriptions in support of his thesis, above summarized.) Punt und die südarabischen Reiche, Berlin, 1890; Dillmann: Geschichte des Auxumitischen Reiches, in Kön. Preuss. Akad. d. Wissenschaften, Berlin, 1880. For the interrelation between Buddhism and early Christianity, and the historical causes leading thereto, see Edmunds: Buddhist and Christian Gospels now first compared from the originals, Philadelphia (4th edition), 1908.

4. Alalaei Islands—These preserve the name, being called the Dahalak. They lie at the entrance to Annesley Bay.

5. Bay of the Opsian stone—This is identified with Hauakil Bay, north of Ras Hanfilah, 14° 44′ N., 40° 49′ E. "Hanfilah" is Amphila, the Antiphili Portus of Artemidorus.

Pliny (op. cit. XXXVI, 67) says the obsian stone (as he spells it) of Aethiopia was very dark, sometimes transparent, bull dull to the sight, and reflected the shadow rather than the image. It was used in his day for jewelry and for statues and votive offerings.

It was used by the Emperor Domitian to face a portico, so that from the reflections on the polished surface he might detect any one approaching from behind.

It seems to have been a volcanic glass, feldspar in a more or less pure state, and the same as our obsidian.

It was found also, according to Pliny, in India, at Samnium in Italy, and in Portugal; and it was extensively imitated in glass.

Henry Salt (A Voyage into Abyssinia, pp. 1904), describes his visit to the Bay of the Opsian stone, which was marked by a hill, near which he "was delighted with the sight of a great many pieces of a black substance, bearing a very high polish, much resembling glass, that lay scattered about on the ground at a short distance from the sea; and I collected nearly a hundred specimens of it, most of which were two, three, or four inches in diameter. One of the natives told me that a few miles farther in the interior, pieces are found of much larger dimensions. This substance has been analyzed since my return to England and found to be true obsidian."

5. Coast subject to Zoscales.Col. Henry Yule in his Marco Polo, II, 434, says "To the 10th century at least, the whole coast-country of the Red Sea, from near Berbera probably to Suakin, was still subject to Abyssinia. At this time we hear only of 'Musalman families' residing in Zeila and the other ports and tributary to the Christians." (See also Mas' udi, III, 34.)

5. Zoscales.Salt (op. cit. 4605) identifies this name with Za Hakale, which appears in the Abyssinian Chronicles. The reign is said to have lasted 13 years, and Salt fixes the dates as 76 to 89 A. D. But he admits (p. 460) that "no great dependence can be placed" upon the Chronicles.

The list begins with "Arwe, the serpent," who reigned 400 years; Za Beesi Angaba, 200; Zagdur, 100; Zazebass Besedo, 50; Zakawasya b'Axum, 1; Za Makeda, 50; "in her 4th year she went to Jerusalem, and after her return reigned 25 years." Then comes Menilek, 29; followed by 15 others, 91 years 2 months; then Za Baesi Bazen, 16 years, "and in the eighth year of his reign Christ was born." Then follow 7 names, 68 years, and Za Hakale, 13; then 15 more names, 227 years 4 months, and Aizanas (el Abreha), and Saizanas (el Atzbeha), 26 years 6 months, "and in the 13th year of his reign Christianity was introduced," and so on.

If Za Makeda was the Queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon in the 10th century B. C., there are evidentally great omissions before Za Baesi Bazen, whose reign is said to have begun in 8 B. C. And Salt was obliged to move Aizanas and Saizanas from their places in the Chronicle, and to advance them 130 years, in order to make them tally with their Axum and Adulis inscriptions, and the correspondence known to have been carried on between them and the Roman Emperors Constantine and Constantius. Therefore Za Hakale's place in the list, in the absence of confirming evidence, can hardly fix the date of the Periplus, as proposed by Müller. More probable is that, like Salt's Aizanas, he must be advanced in the Chronicle to meet known facts. By moving him up three places in the line his accession is brought to 59 A. D., a very probable date.

The Abyssinian Chronicle was composed some time after the conversion of the people to Christianity. Its earlier portions are, therefore, mere tradition; and two versions of it which Salt examined during his visit to that country were found to differ materially.

The reigns in the first Christian century, as given by Salt, are as follows:

Za Baesi Bazen, 16 years, 0 months
Za Senatu, 26 " 0 "
Za Les, 10 " 0 "
Za Masenh, 6 " 0 "
Za Sutuwa, 9 " 0 "
Za Adgaba, 10 " 6 "
Za Agba, 0 " 6 "
Za Malis, 6 " 0 "
Za Hakale, 13 " 0 "
Za Demahé, 10 " 0 "
Za Awtet, 2 " 0 "


The Za prefix, recalling the Dja of Glaser's Arabian inscriptions, gives way in the 3d century to a long list beginning with El, indicating perhaps a change of dynasty from the Habesh stock to the Sabaean.

6. Egyptian cloth.—This was linen, made from flax.

6. Arsinoe was at the head of the Heroopolite Gulf, corresponding to the modern Suez, but now some distance inland owing to the recedence of the Gulf. It was named for the favorite wife of Ptolemy Philadelphus. At one time it was important commercially, as an entrepôt for the Eastern trade; and while it soon lost that position, it continued for centuries to be a leading industrial center, particularly in textiles.

6. Glass.Pliny (op. cit., XXXVI, 65) says that glass-making originated in Phoenicia, and that the sand of the river Belus was long the only known material suitable for the industry. He attributes the discovery for the process to the wreck of a ship laden with nitre on this shore, and the accidental subjection of nitre and sand to heat as the merchants set caldrons on the beach to cook their food. Later the Phoenicians applied themselves to the industry; and their experiments led to the use of manganese and other substances, and to an advanced stage of perfection in the product.

In Pliny's time a white sand at the mouth of the river Volturnus was much used in glass-making. It was mixed with three parts of nitre and fused into a mass called hammo-nitrum; which wsa subjected to fusion a second time, and then became pure white glass. Throughout Gaul and Spain a similar process was used, and this was doubtless the process used in Egypt, as mentioned in the Periplus.

The color was added in the second fusion, after which the glass was either blown, turned or engraved.

6. Murrhine.—See the note to § 49. It was probably agate and carnelian from the Gulf of Cambay; but was extensively imitated in glass by the Phoenicians and Egyptians. The murrhine mentioned here was evidentally a cheap trading product, probably colored glass.

6. Diospolis (City of God) was probably Thebes, the metropolis of the Egyptian Empire—the modern Karnak. This was its name under the Ptolemies and Romans. There was another Diospolis in Egypt, mentioned by Strabo; it was in the Nile delta, above the Sebennytic mouth; but it was not of great importance. Still another, known as Diospolis Parva, was on the Nile some distance below Coptos. The greater Diospolis—Diospolis Magna—was a center of commerce and industry, being no great way above Coptos, from which the caravans started for Berenice.

As illustrating the fame of that city, Strabo quotes Homer (Iliad IX, 383) "with her hundred gates, through each of which issues two hundred men with horns and chariots." The prophet Nahum (III, 8–10) draws another picture of the city after its capture by the Assyrians: "populous No (or No-Amon, City of God) that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it . . . . Ethopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim (Cyrene and Libya) were thy helpers. Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity; her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets; and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains."

6. Brass.—The Greek word is oreichalcos, "mountain-copper," which Pliny (op. cit. XXXIV, 2) makes into a hybrid, as aurichalcum, golden copper; brass, a yellow alloy, as distinguished from pure copper or the darker alloys. Pliny describes it as an ore of copper long in high request, but says none had been found in a long time, the earth having been quite exhausted. It was used for the sestertium and double as, the Cyprian copper being thought good enough for the as.

Oreichalch seems to have been a native brass obtained by smelting ores abundant in zinc; the Roman metallurgy did not distinguish zinc as a separate metal.

Mines yielding such ores were held in the highest estimation, and their exhaustion was deeply regretted, as in the case of the "Corinthian brass." But later it was found by accident that the native earth, calamine, an impure oxide of zinc, added to molten copper, would imitate the true orreichalch; and this the Romans did without understanding what the earth was, just as they used native oxide of cobalt in coloring glass without knowing the metal cobalt.

(See Pliny XXXVII, 44, and Beckmann, History of Inventions, II, 32–3.)

Philostratus of Lemnos, about 230 A. D., mentions a shrine in Taxila in which were hung pictures on copper tablets representing the feats of Alexander and Porus. "The various figures were portrayed in a mosaic of orichalcum, silver, gold, and oxidized copper, but the weapons in iron. The metals were so ingeniously worked into one another that the pictures which they formed were comparable to the productions of the most famous Greek artists" (McCrindle: Ancient India, 192).

The Greek word is effectively used by Oscar Wilde in his poem The Sphinx:

—the God of the Assyrian,
Whose wings, like strange transparent talc, rose high above his hawk-faced head,
Painted with silver and with red and ribbed with rods of oreichalch.

6. Sheets of soft copper.—The text is "honey-copper." That the metallurgy of Roman days included a fusion with honey or other organic substances, such as cow's blood, to produce greater ductility, has been asserted, but not proven. Müller makes a more plausible suggestion, that this was ductile copper in thin sheets, and was called "honey-copper" because the sheets were shaped like honey-cakes. Ductile copper in Roman times generally meant an alloy with 5 to 10 per cent of lead.

6. Iron.Pliny (op. cit. XXXIV, 39–46) speaks of iron as "the most useful and most fatal instrument in the hand of man." The ore, he says, is found almost everywhere; "even in the Isle of Elba." It is worked like copper, and its quality depends somewhat on the water into which the red-hot metal is plunged. Bilbilis and Turiasso in Spain, and Comum in Italy, are distinguished for the use of their water in smelting. The best iron is that made by the Seres, "who send it to us with their tissues and skins." Next to this in quality is the Parthian iron. In all other kinds the metal is alloyed, that is, apparently, the ore is impure.

6. Coats of skin. The text is kaunakai.—Originally these were of rough skins with the hair left on; later they were imitated in Mesopotamia by a heaven woolen fabric, suggesting the modern frieze overcoat, which was largely exported. It is not known which is meant here.

6. Ariaca.—This is the northwest coast of India, especially around the Gulf of Cambay; the modern Cutch, Kathiawar and Gujarat. As the name indicates, it was at the time of the Periplus one of the strongholds of the Indo-Aryan races, and incidentally of Buddhism, the religion then dominant among them.

6. Indian iron and steel.Marco Polo (Yule ed. I, 93) Book I, chap. XVII, mentions iron and ondanique in the markets of Kerman. Yule interprets this as the andanic of Persian merchants visiting Venice, an especially fine steel for swords and mirrors, and derives it from hundwáníy "Indian" steel.

Kenrick suggests that the "bright iron" of Ezekiel XXVII, 19, must have been the same.

Ctesias mentions two wonderful swords of such material which he had from the King of Persia.

Probably this was also the ferrum candidum of which the Malli and Oxydracae sent 100 talents' weight as a present to Alexander.

Ferrum indicum also appears in the lists of dutiable articles under Marcus Aurelius and Commodus.

Salmasius notes a Greek chemical treatise "On the tempering of Indian steel."

Edrisi says "The Hindus excel in the manufacture of iron. They have also workshops wherein are forged the most famous sabres in the world. It is impossible to find anything to surpass the edge that you get from Indian steel."

6. Cotton.—Sanscrit, karpāsa; Hebrew, carpas; Greek karpasos; Latin, carbasus—the seed-fibers of Gossypium herbaceum and G. arboreum (order, Malvaceae) native in India, and woven into cloth by the natives of that country before the dawn of history. The facts concerning it have been admirably stated by Mr. R. B. Handy in The Cotton Plant, a report of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, issued in 1896. Cotton thread and cloth are repeatedly mentioned in the laws of Manu, 800 B. C. Professor A. H. Sayce in his Hibbert Lectures shows ground for the belief that it was exported by sea to the head of the Persian Gulf in the 4th millennium B. C.; and it found its way very early to Egypt. Herodotus describes it as a wool, better than that of sheep, the fruit of trees growing wild in India.

The manufacture of cotton cloth was at its best in India until very recent times, and the fine Indian muslins were in great demand and commanded high prices, both in the Roman Empire and in Mediaeval Europe. The industry was one of the main facotrs in the wealth of ancient India, and the transfer of that industry to England and the United States, and the cheapening of the process by mechnical ginning, spinning and weaving, is perhaps the greatest single factor in the economic history of our own time.

Pliny and Pollux state that cotton was grown in Egypt in their time (1st and 2nd centuries A. D.), how extensively is unknown. It was also grown in the island of Tylos in the Persian Gulf, and according to Theophrastus, in Arabia; and the Periplus confirms this by mentioning it as an article of export from Ommana.

Cotton seems also to have been grown in Syria, Cilicia and Palestine; and the fiber was known to Josephus as chedôn, Hebrew, ketonet; Arabic, kut'n, (the same sound appears in Phoenician, Syrian and Chaldee), was perhaps cotton. Movers states that the inhabitants of Palestine before the Hebrew migration made use of cotton, and that the Phoenicians exported Syrian cotton cloth to Sabaea.

Pausanias describes cotton as growing in Elis, in Achaea, and says that it was made into cloth by the women of Patrae; but this could not have been an extensive industry. It was quite certainly not produced or woven in Italy during Roman days.

Any generalizations based on the Arabic kut'n or the Greek karpasos are uncertain, because those words were applied also to flax, which was in very general use in all the Mediterranean countries.

It is noteworthy that the word used in the Periplus is uniformally othanion, meaning simply "cloth," but usually cotton cloth; which the himatismos, translated as "clothing," was very likely cloth in suitable lengths to be worn as tobe or toga.

6. Monachê cloth.Vincent says cloth "singularly fine," and for sagmatogênê would read "the sort used for stuffing" (from sasso, to stuff; sagma a saddle) being the down from the tree-cotton, Gossypium arboreum. But these words may be Greek corruptions of some Indian trade-names for different grade or dyes of cloth, as to the particulars of which we cannot determine.

Fabricius alters monachê to molochinê because of the occurrence of the same word in the following line, and makes a similar alteration wherever the word appears in the text, but it is difficult to see just what is gained.

This "broad cloth" was no doubt used for garments such as the modern Somali "tobe," described by Burton (First Footsteps, p. 29): "It is a cotton sheet eight cubits long, and two breadths sewn together. It is worn in many ways; sometimes the right arm is bared; in cold weather the whole person is muffled up, and in summer it is allowed to fall below the waist. Generally it is passed behind the back, rests upon the left shoulder, is carried forward over the breast, surrounds the body, and ends hanging on the left shoulder, where it displays a gaudy silk fringe of red and yellow. This is the man's Tobe. The woman's dress is of similar material, but differently worn; the edges are knotted generally over the right, sometimes over the left shoulder; it is girdled round the waist, below which hangs a lappet, which in cold weather can be brought like a hood over the head. Though highly becoming and picturesque as the Roman toga, the Somali Tobe is by no means the most decorous of dresses; women in the towns often prefer the Arab costume—a short-sleeved robe extending to the knee, and a Futah or loin-cloth underneath."

McCrindle, Ancient India, p. 26, notes that India has two distinct species of cotton, Gossypium herbaceum, and Gossypium arboreum or tree-cotton. The former only is made into cloth, while the latter yields a soft and silky texture, which is used for padding cushions, pillows, etc. Pliny says (XIX, 1) that Upper Egypt also produces "a shrub bearing a nut from the inside of which wool is got, white and soft."

6. Molochinê or mallow cloth, was a coarse cotton cloth dyed with a preparation of a variety of the hibiscus native in India. This purplish cloth must have corresponded closely to the coarse blue drills still in demand on this coast.

6. Lac.McCrindle notes that the Sanscrit is lâkshâ, a later form of râkshâ, connected with the root ranj, to dye. The Prakrit form is lakkha. It was used by women for dyeing the nails and feet, also as a dye for cloth.

The lac insect (Tachardia Lacca, Kerr) is native in India and still practically confined to that country.

According to Watt (Commercial Products of India, pp. 1053 ff.), it yields two different products: a dye and a resin. The dye competed on favorable terms with the Mexican cochineal until both were displaced by manufactured aniline, when the resin shellac again became more important.

The resin is formed around the young swarms as they adhere to the trees; the lac being a minute hemipterous insect living on the plant-juices sucked up by a proboscis.

The dye is taken from the bodies of the females, which assume a bright red color during the process of reproduction. For a complete account of the product and its uses see Watt.

Of somewhat similar nature to lac was the "kermes-berry" produced on the Mediterranean holm-oak; whence the dye known as carmesin, cramoisi, crimson or carmine; or, by another derivation, scarlet; or, referring to the pupa-stage of the insect, vermiculum or vermilion.

These insect dyes were used separately, or, associated with murex, as an element in the so-called "Tyrian purple."

6. Tortoise-shell.—This was a great article of commerce in the Roman world, being used for small receptacles, ornaments, and for inlaying furniture and woodwork. It is one of the most frequently-mentioned commodities in the Periplus. The antiquity of the trade is uncertain, but this seems to be the "shell" brought from the Land of Punt by Queen Hatshepsut's expedition in the 15th century B. C.

6. Rhinoceros.—The horns and the teeth, and probably the skin, were exported from the coast of Abyssinia, where Bruce found the hunting of this animal still a trade and described it (Travels, Vol. IV).

7. Avalites is identified with the modern Zeila, 11° 20′ N., 43° 28′ E. It is 79 miles from the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. The ancient name is preserved by the village Abalit, on the north shore of the bay. The Somali tribes call the place Ausal, apparently perpetuating the Ausan of the South Arabian coast; which also at one time possessed much of the coast of East Africa (called the "Ausanitic coast" in § 15 of the Periplus). Avalites is thought by Forster (Historical Geography of Arabia, Vol. I) to perpetuate the name of Obal, son of Joktan (Gen. IV) whose name is almost unknown in Arabia; thus indicating a very early migration of this tribe to the Somali coast. This name seems also to survive in Obollah at the Euphrates mouth on the Persian Gulf; which was the Ubulu of the Assyrian inscriptions and the Apologus of § 35.

Of Zeila, Ibn Batuta, writing in the 14th century, said: "I then went from Aden by sea, and after four days came to the city of Zeila. This is a settlement of the Berbers, a people of Sudan, of the Safia sect. Their country is a desert of two months' extent; the first part is termed Zeila, the last Makdashu. The greatest number of the inhabitants, however, are of the Rafizah sect. Their food is mostly camel's flesh and fish. The stench of the country is extreme, as is also its filth, from the stink of the fish and the blood of the camels which are slaughtered in its streets."

Zeila is described by Burton (First Footsteps in East Africa, p. 14) as "the normal African port—a strip of sulphur-yellow sand, with a deep blue dome above, and a foreground of the darkest indigo. The buildings, raised by refraction, rise high, and apparently from the bosom of the deep. . . . No crafter larger than a canoe can ride near Zeila. After bumping once or twice against the coral reefs, it was considered advisable for our ship to anchor. My companions put me into a cockboat, and wading through the water, shoved it to shore. The situation is a low and level spit of sand, which high tides make almost an island. There is no harbor; a vessel of 250 tons cannot approach within a mile of the landing-place; the open roadstead is exposed to the terrible north wind, and when gales blow from the west and south it is almost unapproachable. Every ebb leaves a sandy flat, extending half a mile seaward from the town; the reefy anchorage is difficult of entrance after sunset, and the coraline bottom renders wading painful."

Zeila, the nearest port to Harrar in the interior, had, when Burton wrote, lost the caravan trade to Berbera, owing to the feuds of its rulers; so that the characteristics of its people had not changed from the account given in § 7 of the Periplus.

At that time the exports from Zeila were slaves, ivory, hides, honey, antelope horns, clarified butter, and gums. The coast abounded in sponge, coral, and small pearls. In the harbor were about twenty native craft, large and small; they traded with Berbera, Arabia, and Western India, and were navigated by "Rajput" or Hindu pilots.

Burton (op. cit., pp. 330–1) says again:

"I repeatedly heard at Zeila and at Harrar that traders had visited the far West, traversing for seven months a country of pagans wearing golden bracelets, till they reached the Salt Sea upon which Franks sail in ships. I once saw a traveler descending the Nile with a store of nuggets, bracelets and gold rings similar to those used as money by the ancient Egyptians. Mr. Krapf relates a tale current in Abyssinia, namely: that there is a remnant of the slave trade between Guineh (the Guinea coast) and Shoa. Connection between the east and west formerly existed; in the time of João I, the Portuguese on the river Zaire in Congo learned the existence of the Abyssinian church. Travelers in Western Africa assert that Fakihs or priests, when performing the pilgrimage, pass from the Fellatah country through Abyssinia to the coast of the Red Sea. And it has lately been proved that a caravan line is open from the Zanzibar coast to Benguela."

The foregoing, written before modern discovery had altered the trade of Africa, indicates the same condition as that existing in ancient history: a well-established trade to Egypt and South Arabia, coming from tribe to tribe through the heart of Africa, from great distances West and South.

7. The "Far-side" coast.—According to Burton (op. cit. p. 12) the Somali tribes called their country the Barr el Ajam, which he translates as "barbarian land," but goes on to explain that Ajam means all nations not Arab, just as among Egyptians and Greeks "barbarian" meant all nations not of their country.

The name seems to apply to the migration and trade from South Arabia, the tribes who had crossed the gulf at Aden at various periods of history being referred to by their countrymen as those "of the further side," which our author has rendered into Greek as peratikos (pera, beyond).

7. Juice of sour grapes.—The text is omphakion. Pliny says (XII, 60): "Omphacium is a kind of oil obtained from the olive and the vine—the former is produced by pressing the olive while still white; the latter from the Aminaean grape, when the size of a chick-pea, just before the rising of Dog-star. The verjuice is put into earthen vessels, and then stored in vessels of Cyprian copper. The best is reddish, acrid, and dry to the taste. Also the unripe grape is pounded in a mortar, dried in the sun, and then divided into lozenges."

The Aminaean grape he describes in XIV, 4: also a lanata or woolly grape—"so that we not be surprised at the wool-bearing trees of the Seres or the Indians." These latter were cotton; the former were mulberry trees with silkworm cocoons bred on them. cf. Virgil, (Georgics, II, 121.)

"Velleraque ut foliis depectant tenuia Seres."

Pliny (XXIII, 4) says again: "Omphacium heals ulcerations of the humid parts of the body, such as the mouth, tonsillary glands, etc. The powerful action of omphacium is modified by the admixture of honey or raisin wine. It is very useful, too, for dysentery, spitting of blood, and quinsy."

And in XXIII, 39: "The most useful of all kinds of oil (other than olive) is omphacium. It is good for the gums, and if kept from time to time in the mouth, there is nothing better as a preservative of the whiteness of the teeth. It checks profuse perspiration."

7. Wheat.Triticum vulgare, Villars, order Gramineae. The cultivation of wheat, says Dr Candolle, is prehistoric. It is older than the most ancient languages, each of which has independent and definite names for the grain. The Chinese grew it 2700 B. C. It was grown by the Swiss lake-dwellers about 1500 B. C., and has been found in a brick of one of the Egyptian pyramids dating from about 3350 B. C.

Originally it was doubtless a wild grass which under cultivation assumed varying form. In the early Roman Empire vast quantities of wheat were raised in Sicily, Gaul, North Africa, and particularly Egypt, for shipment to Rome. Later a great wheat area was opened up in what is now Southern Russia, which finally supplanted Egypt in the markets of Constantinople, after Alexandria and Antioch fell into Saracen hands. The trade in wheat as described in the Periplus is interesting. It shows that South Arabia, Socotra and East Africa had wheat not only from Egypt but also from India, which has not usually been considered as a wheat country at that time. Watt (op. cit., p. 1082) thinks wild rice (Oryza coarctata) may have been intended, but the Periplus distinguishes between wheat and rice as coming from India. The Hindus might certainly have had the seed from Egypt and cultivated it, but Watt notes the complete absence, so far as known, of wild wheat in modern India.

7. Wine.—The fermented juice of Vitis vinifera, Linn., order Vitaceae. The culture of the vine seems to have begun in Asia Minor and Syria, but within the period of written history it is almost universal. It introduction was ascribed to the gods: by the Greeks to Dionysos, the Romans to Bacchus, the Egyptians to Osiris; or in the case of the Hebrews, to the patriarch Noah. The vine and the olive, requiring continued cultivation from year to year, almost distinguish settled civilizatoin from nomadic conditions, and the product of both industries appears in commerce from the earliest times.

The wine of the Damascus valley was an important export in the time of Ezekiel (XXVII, 18); of the Greek wines the best were the Aegean islands and the Asiatic coast near Ephesus (Strabo, XIV, I, 15). The Phoenicians carried the vine to Spain, and the Greeks to southern Gaul. It was unknown in early Italy, but was fostered by the Roman republic, which restricted imports of foreign growths, and stimulated exports by restricting viniculture in the provinces. In the valleys of the Seine and Moselle wine was not produced until the later days of the Roman Empire.

At the time of the Periplus, the popular taste demanded a wine highly flavored with extraneous substances, such as myrrh and other gums, cinnamon and salt.

The Periplus tells us that Italian and Laodicean wines were imported into Abyssinia, the Somali Coast, East Africa, South Arabia, and India. Arabian wine was also carried to India; this may have included grape-wine from Yemen (§ 24) but was principally date-wine from the Persian Gulf (§ 36). Italian wine was preferred to all others (§ 49). This was from the plain of Campania, in the vicinity of modern Naples, whence Strabo tells us (V, VI, 13), "the Romans procured their finest wines, the Falernian, the Statanian, and the Calenian. That of Surrentum is now esteemed equal to these, it having been lately discovered that it can be kept to ripen." Petronius (Cena Trimalchionis) mentions a Falernian wine which had been ripened 100 years.

The Laodicean wine was from Laodicea on the Syrian coast, some 60 miles south of Antioch, the modern Latakia. Strabo (XVI, II, 9) says: "it is a very well-built city, with a good harbor; the territory, besides its fertility in other respects, abounds with wine, of which the greater part is exported to Alexandria. The whole mountain overhanging the city is planted almost to its summit with vines."

7. Tin.—Hebrew, bedil; Greek, kassiteros; Sanscrit, kasthira; Latin, stannum. This metal, the product of Galicia and Cornwall, was utilized industrially at a comparatively late period, having been introduced after gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, and mercury. It made its appearance in the Mediterranean world soon after the migration of the Phoenicians to Syria. The Phoenician traders may have found it first on the Black Sea coast, coming overland from tribe to tribe; very soon they discovered the Spanish tin and traced it to its source, and finally that of Cornwall. The value of tin in hardening copper was soon understood, and the trade was monopolized for centuries by the Phoenicians and their descendants, the Carthaginians. How carefully the guarded the secret of its production appears in Strabo's story (III, V, 11) of the Phoenician captain who, finding himself followed by a Roman vessel on the Atlantic coast of Spain, ran his ship ashore rather than divulge his destination, and collected the damage from his government on returning home.

There is much confusion in the early references to this metal, because the Hebrew bedil (meaning "the departed") was also applied to the metallic residue from silver-smelting—a mixture of silver, lead, and occasionally copper and mercury. The same comparison applies to kassiteros and stannum. Pliny, for example, distinguishes plumbum nigrum, lead, and plumbum candidum, stannum. Without any definite basis for determining metals, appearance was often the only guide.

Suetonius (Vitell. VI, 192) says that the Emperor Vitellius took away all the gold and silver from the temples, (69 A. D.) and substituted aurichalcum and stannum. This stannum could not have been pure tin, but rather an alloy of lead, like pewter.

The letters from the King of Alashia (Cyprus), in the Tell-el-Amarna tablets, indicate the possibility of the use of tin there in the 15th century B. C., and of the shipment of the resultant bronze to Egypt; and tin, as a separate metal, is thrice mentioned in the Papyrus Harris, under Rameses III (1198–1167 B. C.). This confirms the mention of tin in Numbers XXXI, 22. By the time of Ezekiel (XXVII, 12) it was, of course, well known; here it appears with silver, iron, and lead, as coming from Spain. The stela of Tanutamon describes a hall for the god Amon, build by the Pharaoh Taharka at Napata (688–663 B. C.), of stone ornamented with gold, with a tablet of cedar incensed with myrrh of Punt, and double doors of electrum with bolts of tin. (Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol. IV).

By the Greeks the true tin was understood and extensively used, and the establishment of their colony of Massilia was largely due to the discovery of the British metal coming overland to the mouth of the Rhône. The Romans ultimately conquered both Galicia and Cornwall, and then controlled the trade; but to judge from Pliny's account, their understanding of it was vague.

According to the Periplus, tin was shipped from Egypt to both Somaliland and India.

Lassen (Indische Alterthumskunde, I, 249) and Oppert, arguing from the similarity of the Sanscrit kasthira and the Greek kassiteros, would transfer the earliest tin trade to India and Malacca; but it seems probable that the Sanscrit word was a late addition to the language, borrowed from the Greek with the metal itself; which, as stated by the Periplus in §§ 49 and 56, came to India from the west.

See also Movers, Phönizier, Vol. III; Beckmann, op. cit., II, 206–230.

8. Malao is the modern Berbera, 10° 25′ N., 45° 5′ E. It is now the leading port of this coast, the capital of British Somaliland, and the center of the caravan trade to the interior. Glaser (Skizze,

  p.  196) would identify it with Bulhar, about 30 miles farther west; but the description of the "sheltering spit running out from the east" in § 8, places it beyond doubt at Berbera, which has just such a spit, while Bulhar is on the open beach.

Burton (op. cit., pp. 407–418) gives a detailed description of the town and harbor, of the stream of sweet water flowing into it, and of the interior trade and the great periodical fair, frequented by the caravans from the interior and by sailing vessels from Yemen, the South Arabian coast, Muscat, Bahrein and Bassora, and beyond as far as Bombay; the same trade as that described in § 14.

8. "Far-side" frankincense.—Concerning frankincense in general, see under §§ 2932. Somali frankincense figures in the trade of Egypt at the time of the Punt expeditions, and probably much earlier. It was different from, and often superior to, the Arabian. It is, indeed, possible that the true frankincense (Boswellia neglecta) was native here, and that the Arabian varieties (Boswellia serrata, etc.) were a later cultivation. Yet Fabricius (p. 124) in curious disregard of the text, thinks the Malao frankincense was imported from Arabia!

8. Duaca is identified by Glaser (Skizze, 197) with duakh, which appears in several Arabic inscriptions as a variety of frankincense; duka, he says, is a trade-name in modern Aden for a certain quality of frankincense.

Burton (op. cit., p. 416) describes the range of mountains running parallel with this coast, some 30 miles inland from Berbera, "4000 to 6000 feet, thickly covered with gum-arabic and frankincense trees, the wild fig and the Somali pine."

8. Indian copal.—The text is kankamon, which is mentioned by Pliny as a dye (probably in confusion with lac); by Dioscorides as the exudation of a wood like myrrh, and used for incense. Pliny (XII, 44) says that it came "from the country that produces cinnamon, through the Nabataean Troglodytae, a colony of the Nabataei." Glaser (Skizze, 196) is positive that it is no Arabian product. Col. Henry Yule identifies it with Indian copal, Malabar tallow, or white dammar, the gum exuded from Vateria Indica, Linn., order Dipterocarpeae; which is described by Watt (op. cit., p. 1105,) as a "large evergreen of the forests at the foot of the Western Ghāts from Kanara to Travancore, ascending to 4000 feet." This gum or resin dissolves in turpentine or drying oils, and, like copal, is chiefly used for making varnishes. The bark is also very astringent, rich in tannin, and is used to control fermentation.

8. Macir is mentioned by Dioscorides as an aromatic bark. Pliny (XII, 16) says that it was brought from India, bring a red bark growing upon a large root, bearing the name of the tree that produced it. He was ignorant of the tree itself. A decoction of this bark, mixed with honey, was used in medicine as a specific for dysentery.

Lassen (op. cit., III, 31) identifies it with makara, a remedy for dysentery, consisting of the root-bark of a tree native on the Malabar coast; but he does not identify the tree.

This macir was doubtless the root-bark of the Holarrhena antidysenterica, Wall., order Apocynaceae, described by Watt (op. cit., p. 640) as "a small deciduous tree, found throughout India and Burma, ascending the lower Himalaya to 3500 feet, and to a similar altitude on the hills of Southern India. . . . Both bark and seed of this plant are among the most important medicines in the Hindu materia medica. By the Portuguese this was called herba malabarica, owing to its great merit in the treatment of dysentery, they having found it on the Malabar coast. The preparation, generally in the form of a solid or liquid extract, or of a decoction, is astringent, antidysenteric and anthelmintic. The seeds yield a fixed oil, and the wood-ash is used in dyeing. The wood is much used for carving, furniture and turnery."

9. Mundus is probably the modern Bandar Hais, 10° 52′ N., 46° 50′ E. Glaser (Skizze, 197) would identify it with Berbera. But the text gives "two or three days' sail" between Malao and Mundus, altogether too much for the 30 miles, more or less, between Bulhar and Berbera. And just as the "sheltering spit" identifies Berbera as Malao, so does the "island close to shore" identify Hais as Mundus. Vivien de Saint-Martin (Le Nord de l'Afrique dans l'antiquité grecque et romaine, p. 285) describes a small island protecting this little harbor, and says it was much frequented by Arab and Somali tribes.

Müller's identification with Burnt Island (11° 15′ N., 47° 15′ E.) is less probable because that island is too far from shore to afford protection to small vessels.

9. Mocrotu was probably a high grade of frankincense. Glaser (Skizze, 199–201) notes that the Arabic name for the best variety is mghairot, or in Mahri, mghair; and that the same word appears in Somaliland as mokhr. From this the Greek of the text the change is negligible.

10. Mosyllum is placed by most commentators at Ras Hantara, (11° 28′ N., 49° 35′ E.) Glaser prefers Ras Khamzir (10° 55′ N., 45° 50′ E.) many miles farther west. The text gives no help in the way of local description. It is noteworthy that Pliny says the Atlantic Ocean begins here; ignoring not only the coast of Azania, as described in § 15, but the Cape of Spices itself. Mosyllum was probably, therefore, rather a prominent headland on the coast, altogether such as Ras Hantara.

This, by the way, was reputed to have been the eastward limit of the conquests of Ptolemy Euergetes, King of Egypt, in the 3d century B. C.

10. Cinnamon.—The text is kasia, from Hebrew kezia (Ps. XLV, 8; Ezek. XXVII, 19, XXX, 24), the modern cassia. This meant usually, in Roman times, the wood split lengthwise, as distinguished from the flower-tips and tender bark, which rolled up into small pipes and was called kinnamomon, from Hebrew kheneh, a pipe; khinemon (Exod. XXX, 23, Prov. VII, 17, Cant. IV, 14); Latin canna, French cannelle.

Cinnamon and cassia are the flower-tips, bark, and wood of several varieties of laurel native in India, Tibet, Burma and China. Engler and Prantl, Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien, classify them as follows:

1. Cinnamomum
Sect. 1. Malabathrum
including C. javeneum
C. cassia
C. zeylanicum
C. culilawan
C. tamala
C. iners
Sect. 2. Camphora
including C. camphora
C. parthenoxylon

Cinnamon is mentioned as one of the ingredients of the sacred anointing oil of the Hebrew priests (Exod. XXX). The Egyptian inscriptions of Queen Hatshepsut's expedition, in the 15th century B. C., mention cinnamon wood as one of the "marvels of the country of Punt" which were brought back to Egypt.

Cinnamon was familiar to both the Greeks and Romans, and was used as incense, and as a flavor in oils and salves. It is menioned by Hippocrates, Theophrastus, and Pliny. Dioscorides gives a long description of it. He says it "grows in Arabia; the best sort is red, of a fine color, almost like coral; straight, long, and pipy, and it bites on the palate with a slight sensation of head. The best sort is that called zigir, with a scent like a rose. . . . The cinnamon has many names, from the different places where it grows. But the best sort is that which is like the casia of Mosyllum, and this cinnamon is called Mosyllitic, as well as the cassia." And this cinnamon, he says, "when fresh, in its greatest perfection, is of a dark color, something between the color of wine and a dark ash, like a small twig or spray full of knots, and very fragrant."

Roman writers distinguish between true cinnamon and cassia; the former was valued at 1500 denarii (about $325) the pound; the later at 50 denarii. The Periplus makes no distinction; "cassia" it mentions at Mosyllum and Opone, and the "harder cassia" at Malao. Cinnamon, under the Empire, probably meant the tender shoots and flower-tips of the tree, which were reserved for the emperors and patricians, and distributed to them on solemn occasions. Cassia was the commercial article, and included the bark, the split wood, and the root. The Romans could not distinguish between species, and their classification was according to the appearance of the product as it came to them.

As to the country of origin, Herodotus (book III) states that cassia was from Arabia; naturally so, as the Phoenicians brought it thence. He distinguishes cinnamon, and gives a fabulous story of its recovery from the nests of great birds "in those countries in which Bacchus was nursed," which in Greek legend meant India. The Periplus says that it was produced in Somaliland, to which Strabo and other Roman writers refer as the regio cinnamomifera in the same belief. But there is no sign of a cinnamon tree in that region at present, where the requisite conditions of soil and climate do not exist. Pliny (VI, 29) indicates that it was merely trans-shipped there. Strabo (XVI, IV, 14) says that it came from the "far interior" of this region, and that nearer the coast only the "false cassia" grew. Pliny (XXI, 42) says that it came from Aethiopia and was brought "over vast tracts of sea" to Ocelis by the Troglodytes, who took five years in making the round trip. Here are indications of that the true cinnamon was brought from India and the Far East to the Somali coast, and there mixed with bark from the laurel-groves mentioned in § 11 and by Strabo, and taken thence to Arabia and Egypt. The Periplus notes also (§ 10) the "larger ships" required at Mosyllum for the cinnamon trade. This was probably the very midst of the "Land of Punt" whence the Egyptian fleet brough cinnamon 15 centuries before.

In India various barks and twigs are sold as cassia and cinnamon, and according to Watt (op. cit., p. 313) it is still almost impossible to distinguish them. Cassia bark (C. cassia, or Cassia lignea) was historically the first to be known, and the best qualities came from China, where it is recorded first about 2700 B. C. The Malabar bark was less valuable. Persian records invariably refer to cinnamon as Dar Chini, "Chinese bark;" and between the 3d and 6th centuries A. D. there was an active sea-trade in this article, in Chinese ships, from China to Persia.

Marco Polo describes cinnamon as growing in Malabar, Ceylon, and Tibet. The British East India Company's records show that it came usually from China; and Millburn (Or. Comm. 1813, II, 500) describes both bark and buds, and warns traders against the "coarse, dark and badly packed" product of Malabar.

Since the later years of the 18th century the variety C. zeylanicum has been extensively cultivated in Ceylon; but the best quality is still shipped from Canton, being from C. Cassia, native throughout Assam, Burma, and Southern China. It seems altogether probable that the true cinnamon of the ancient Egyptian and Hebrew records, of Herodotus and Pliny, reached the Mediterranean nations from no nearer place than Burma, and perhaps through the Straits of Malacca from China itself. Many, indeed, must have been the hands through which it passed on its long journey to Rome.

The malabathrum of the Romans, which they bought in India while still unable to obtain cinnamon there, was the leaves of three varieties: that of the Malabar mountains from C. zeylanicum, and that of the Himalayas from C. tamala, with a little from C. iners.

These trees are all of fairly large growth, evergreen, rising to about 6000 feet altitude. The tree flowers in January, the fruit ripens in April, and the bark is full of sap in May and June, when it is stripped off and forms the best grade of cinnamon. The strippings of later months are not so delicate and are less valued.

See Watt, op. cit., pp. 310–313; Lassen, op. cit., I, 279–285, II, 555–561; Vincent, II, 130, 701–706; Flückiger and Hanbury, Pharmacographia, 519–527; Marco Polo, Yule ed., II, 49, 56, 315, 389; and for malabathrum or folium indicum, see Garcia de Orta, Coll., XXIII; also comment by Ball in Roy. Ir. Acad., 3d ser., I, 409; also Linschoten, Voy. E. Ind. (Ed. Hakl. Soc.), II, 131.

11. Little Nile River.—The text is Neilopotamion, perhaps a reflection of Egyptian Greek settlement. Another reading is Neiloptolemaion, which might also suggest a connection with one of the Ptolemies. But in Egyptian records there is no mention of a settlement or conquest so far east.

Müller identifies the river with the Tokwina (11° 30′ N., 49° 55′ E.) which empties below a mountain, Jebel Haima, 3800 feet high; there are ancient ruins here. The "small laurel grove" he places at Bandar Muriyeh (11° 40′  N., 50° 25′ E.), below the Jebel Muriyeh, 4000 feet high.

11. Cape Elephant seems to be the modern Ras el Fil, or Filuk, 12° 0′ N., 50° 32′ E. It is a promontory 800 feet high, about 40 miles west of Cape Guardafui. The word fil is said also to mean "elephant," and the shape of the headland suggests the name. A river empties into the gulf just east of the promontory. Glaser (Skizze, 199) thinks this is too far east, and prefers Ras Hadadeh (48° 45′ E.). Elephant River he identifies with the Dagaan (49° E.) or the Tokwina (49° 55′ E.), from which the modern fusus frankincense is brought to Aden. But by placing Mosyllum at Ras Khamzir, Glaser is entirely too far west to admit of covering the remainder of this coast in two days' journey, as stated in § 11. And the "southerly trend" of the coast just before Guardafui, mentioned in § 12, fixes Cape Elephant at Ras el Fil.

Glaser objects to the relatively short two days' sail between Ras Hantara and Guardafui; but he fails to take into account the prevailing calms north of the cape, which would justify a shorter day's sail in that vicinity than farther west, where the winds are steadier.

Salt (op. cit., 978) says: "Scarcely had we got round the cape (Guardafui) when the wind deadened. At daylight w found that we had made scarcely any progress. The same marks on the shore remained the whole day abreast of us."

11. Acannae is identified with Bandar Ululah, 12° 0′ N., 50° 42′ E. McCrindle notes that Captain Saris, an English navigator, called here in 1611, and reported a river, emptying into a bay, offering safe anchorage for three ships abreast. Several sorts of gums, very sweet in burning, were still purchased by Indian ships from the Gulf of Cambay, which touched here for that purpose on their voyage to Mocha.

12. The Cape of Spices is, of course, the modern Cape Guardafui, or Ras Asir, 11° 50′ N., 51° 16′ E. McCrindle describes it as "a bluff point, 2500 feet high, as perpendicular as if it were scarped. The current comes round it out of the Gulf (of Aden) with such violence that it is not to be stemmed without a brisk wind, and during the S. W. monsoon the moment you are past the Cape to the north there is a stark calm with insufferable heat."


This is the "Southern Horn" of Strabo, who says (XVI, IV, 14) "after doubling this cape toward the south, we have no more descriptions of harbors or places, because nothing is known of the sea-coast beyond this point."

Pliny prefers the account of King Juba of Mauretania, compiled from earlier information, in which the end of the continent is placed at Mosyllum; so that if he had before him this Periplus, he ignored completely the account it gives of this coast.

The Market of Spices is identifed by Glaser (Skizze, II, 20) with the modern Olok, on the N. W. side of the Cape.

Strabo's description is as follows (XVI, IV, 14): "Next is the country which produces frankincense; it has a promontory and a temple with a grove of poplars. In the inland parts is a tract along the banks of a river bearing the name of Isis, and another that of Nilus, both of which produce myrrh and frankincense. Also a lagoon filled with water from the mountains; next the watchpost of the Lion, and the port of Pythangelus. The next tract bears the false cassia. There are many tracts in succession on the sides of rivers on which frankincense grows, and rivers extending to the cinnamon country. The river which bounds this tract produces rushes in abundance. Then follows another river, and the port of Daphnus, and a valley called Apollo's, which bears, besides frankincense, myrrh and cinnamon. The latter is more abundant in places far in the interior. Next is the mountain Elephas projecting into the sea, and a creek; then the large harbor of Psygmus, a watering-place called that of the Cynocephali, and the last promontory of this coast, Notu Ceras (the Southern Horn)."

12. Tabae is placed by Müller at the Ras Chenarif, 11° 5′ N. Glaser (Skizze, 201) thinks the distance from Olok too great, and places Tabae just behind the eastern point of the cape.

13. Pano is probably Ras Binna, 11° 12′ N., 51° 7′ E. There is a modern village on the north side, a little west of the point, which affords shelter from the S. W. monsoon.

13. Opone is the remarkable headland now known as Ras Hafun, 10° 25′ N., 51° 25′ E., about 90 miles below Cape Guardafui.

Glaser finds a connection between these names, Pano and Opone, the Egyptian "Land of Punt" or Poen-at, the island Pa-anch of the Egyptians (Socotra), the incense-land Panchaia of Virgil (Georgics, II, 139; "Totaque turiferis Panchaia pinguis arenis,") and the Puni or Phoenicians; who, he thinks, divided as they left their home in the Persian Gulf (the islands of King Erythras in the story quoted by Agatharchides); one branch going to the coasts of Syria, the other to those of South Arabia and East Africa.

13. Cinnamon produced.—A letter from Mr. R. E. Drake-Brockman, F. Z. S., F. R. G. S., (author of The Mammals of Somaliland, and now at work on Somali Flora) dated Berbera, January 7, 1910, says:

"The 'Horn of Africa' was known to the Romans as the regio aromatifera on account of the large quantities of myrrh that were exported. The country abounds in the various species of the acacias, which produce gums of varying commercial value, also certain trees producing resins.

"I have so far not come across any trees from the cinnamon group, nor have I heard of their existence.

"The tree producing myrrh, or malmal as it is known to the Somalis, is called garron; but owing to the activities of the Mullah I have never been able to penetrate the southern Dholbanta and Mijertain countries where it grows."

And again, March 3: "I have never heard of the exportation of cinnamon from this part of Africa. . . . It is just possible that there might be some species of laurels in the Dholbanta country and south of it, but it is not possible to venture so far owing to the hostility of the Mullah."

If there was any aromatic bark produced near Cape Guardafui and not merely trans-shipped there, it seems almost certain that it was an adulterant added there to the true cinnamon, that came from India.

14. Ships from Ariaca.—The antiquity of the Hindu trade in East Africa is asserted by Speke (Discovery of the Source of the Nile, Chaps. I, V, X). The Puranas described the Mountains of the Moon and the Nyanza lakes, and mentioned as the source of the Nile the "country of Amara," which is the native name of the district north of Victoria Nyanza. A map based on this description, drawn by Lieut. Wilford, was printed in the Asiatic Researches, Vol. III, 1801.

"Nothing was ever written concerning their Country of the Moon, as far as we know, until the Hindus, who traded with the east coast of Africa, opened commercial dealings with its people in slaves and ivory, possibly some time prior to the birth of our Saviour, when, associated with their name, Men of the Moon, sprang into existence the Mountains of the Moon. These Men of the Moon are hereditarily the greatest traders in Africa, and are the only people, who, for love of barter and change, will leave their own country as porters and go to the coast, and they do so with as much zest as our country-folk go to a fair. As far back as we can trace they have done this, and they still do it as heretofore.

"The Hindu traders had a firm basis to stand upon, from their intercourse with the Abyssinians—through whom they must have heard of the country of Amara, which they applied to the Nyanza—and with the Wanyamurzi or Men of the Moon, from whom they heard of the Tanganyika and Karague mountains. Two church missionaries, Rebmann and Erhardt, without the smallest knowledge of the Hindu's map, constructed a map of their own, deduced from the Zanzibar traders, something on the same scale, by blending the Victoria Nyanza, Tanganyika, and Nyassa into one; whilst to their triuned lake they gave the name of Moon, because the Men of the Moon happened to live in front of the central lake."

This trading-voyage of the first century by Indian vessels, although less extended, was in other respects similar to that of the Arab traders of a century ago as described by Salt (op. cit., p. 103):

"The common track pursued by the Arab traders is as follows: they depart from the Red Sea in August (before which it is dangerous to venture out of the gulf), then proceed to Muscat, and thence to the coast of Malabar. In December they cross over to the coast of Africa, visit Mogdishu, Merka, Barawa, Lamu, Malindi, and the Querimbo Islands; they then direct their course to the Comoro Islands, and the northern ports of Madagascar, or sometimes stretch down southward as far as Sofala; this occupies them until after April, when they run up into the Red Sea, where they arrive in time to refit and prepare a fresh cargo for the following year."

14. The products of their own places.—For a discussion of the products of India imported into the Somali ports, see later, under § 41. The important thing to be noted here is that these agricultural products were regularly shipped, in Indian vessels, from the Gulf of Cambay; that these vessels exchanged their cargoes at Cape Guardafui and proceeding along the coast, some southward, but most westward; and that, according to § 25, Ocelis, at the entrance to the Red Sea, was their terminus, the Arabs forbidding them to trade beyond. Between India and Cape Guardafui they apparently enjoyed the bulk of the trade, shared to some extent by Arabian shipping and quite recently by Greek ships from Egypt; on the Somali coast they shared the trade in an incidental way; and they received their return cargoes at Ocelis and shared non of the Red Sea trade, which in former times the Arabs of Yemen had monopolized, but in the days of the Ptolemies the Egyptians had largely taken over.

At the time of the Periplus, owing to the conquest of Egypt by the Romans, the establishment of the Axumite Kingdom, and a settled policy in Rome of cultivating direct communication with India, this commercial understanding, or alliance, between Arabia and India (which had existed certainly for 2000 years and probably much longer), is shown to be at the point of extinction; but still to be strong enough for the Romans to know the cinnamon-bark only as a product of the Arabian tributary, Somaliland, while the cinnamon-leaf, a later article of commerce, they knew (§§ 56, 65) under the name of malabathrum, as a product of India and Tibet.

14. Clarified butter.—The text is boutyron. Some of the commentators object to the word (Lassen and Fabricius especially) and Fabricius, in his notes (p. 130) thinks it would be "very wrong to suppose that butter could have been brought from India, in this hot climate, to the eastern coast of Africa." Therefore they propose substitutes, as noted under §41.

The voyage from India to Africa by the N. E. monsoon may have averaged 30 to 40 days. As shown under §41, clarified butter will keep in the tropics not only for years, but for centuries; but the account given by Burton (First Footsteps, pp. 136 and 247) shows that modern caravans take it for trips of six weeks and more, under the same hot climate of Somaliland; and Lieut. Cruttenden, in his description of the Berbera Fair, tells of modern Cambay ships laden with ghee in jars, bought in Somaliland for trade elsewhere; probably along the Arabian coast. That is, the Somali had learned the art of clarifying butter, and exported it in the 19th century by the same class of ships that had brought it to them from India in the 1st century.

Mungo Park found the same product entering into the commerce of the much more humid Senegal coast of West Africa:

"The Foulahs use the milk chiefly as an article of diet, and that not until it is sour. The cream which it affords is very thick, and is converted into butter by stirring it violently in a large calabash. This butter, when melted over a gentle fire, and freed from impurities, is preserved in small earthen pots, and forms a part in most of their dishes; it serves likewise to anoint their heads, and is bestowed very liberally on their faces and arms." (Travels of Mungo Park, London: 1799. Chap. IV.)

14. Honey from the reed called sacchari is the first mention in the history of the European world of sugar as an article of commerce. It was known to Pliny as a medicine. Sacchari is the Prakrit form of the Sanscrit sarkara, Arabic sukkar, Latin saccharum.

Periplus 090 Grinding Sugar.png
Grinding sugar in Western India.

The modern languages reflect the Arabic form—Portuguese, assucar, Spanish azucar, French sucre, German zucker, English sugar. The sugar is derived from Saccharum officinarum, Linn., order Gramineae. It was produced in India, Burma, Anam and Southern China, long before it found its way to Rome, and seems to have been cultivated and crushed first in India.

14. Exchange their cargoes.—This trade of the Indian ships at Opone and elsewhere, is so like that described on the same coast by Lieut. Cruttenden in 1848, that his account deserves to be quoted in full:

"From April to early October," (the quotation is from Burton, First Footsteps, 408–10), "the place is deserted. No sooner does the season change than the inland tribes move down toward the coast, and prepare their huts for their expected visitors. Small craft from the ports of Yemen, anxious to have an apportunity of purchasing before vessels from the gulf could arrive, hastened across, followed two or three weeks later by their larger brethren from Muscat, Sur, and Ras el Khyma, and the valuably freighted bagalas from Bahrein, Bassora, and Graen. Lastly, the fat and wealthy Banian traders from Porebandar, Mandavi and Bombay, rolled across in their clumsy kotias, and with a formidable row of empty ghee-jars slung over the quarters of their vessels, elbowed themselves into a permanent position in the front tier of craft in the harbor, and by their superior capital, cunning, and influence soon distanced all competitors.

"During the height of the fair there is a perfect Babel, in confusion as in languages; no chief is acknowledged, and the customs of bygone days are the laws of the place. Disputes between the inland tribes daily arise, and are settled by the spear and dagger, the combatants retiring to the beach at a short distance from the town, in order that they may not disturb the trade. Long strings of camels are arriving and departing day and night, escorted generally by women alone, until at a distance from town; and an occasional group of dusty and travel-worn children marks the arrival of the slave-caravan from the interior.

"Here the Somali or Galla slave merchant meets his correspondent from Bassora, Bagdad or Bandar Abbas; and the savage Gudabirsi, with his head tastefully ornamented with a scarlet sheepskin in lieu of a wig, is seen peacefully bartering his ostrich feathers and gums with the smooth-spoken Banian from Porebandar, who, prudentally living on board his ark, and locking up his puggaree, which would infallibly be knocked off the instant he was seen wearing it, exhibits but a small portion of his wares at a time, under a miserible mat spread on the beach.

"By the end of March the fair is nearly at an end, and craft of all kinds, deeply laden, and sailing generally in parties of three or four, commence their homeward journey. By the first week in April the place is again deserted, and nothing is left to mark the site of a town lately containing 20,000 inhabitants, beyond bones of slaughtered camels and sheep, and the framework of a few huts, which carefully piled on the beach in readiness for the ensuing year."

15. The Bluffs of Azania are the rugged coast known as El Haẓin, ending at Ras el Kyl, 7° 44′ N., 49° 40′ E.

15. The Small and great beach is the Sif el Tauil or "low coast," ending at Ras Aswad, 4° 30′ N., 47° 55′ E.; but this is actually a longer course than the bluffs, whereas the Periplus rates them both as six days' journey.

15. The Courses of Azania are the strips of desert coast extending below the equator. The Arabs divide this coast into two sections, the first called Barr Ajjan (preserving the ancient name), the second Benadir, or "coast of harbors." Sarapion may be the modern Mogdishu, 2° 5′ N., 45° 25′ E. Nicon is, perhaps, the modern Barawa, 1° 10′ N., 44° 5′ E. The "rivers and anchorages" are along the modern El Djesair or "coast of islands."

Concerning the name Azania, R. N. Lyne, in his Zanzibar in Contemporary Times, and Col. Henry Yule, in his edition of Marco Polo, have much of interest. The name survives in the modern Zanzibar (the Portuguese form of Zanghibar), which Marco Polo applied not only to the island, but to the whole coast; and it is popularly derived from bar, coast, and zang, black: "land of the blacks." But the name seems to be older, and to refer to the ancient Arabic and Persian division of the world into three sections, Hind, Sind and Zinj, wherefrom even European geographers in mediaeval times classified East Africa as one of the Indies, and Marco Polo located Abyssinia in "Middle India." Cosmas Indicopleustes, writing in the 6th century A. D., indicates that the whole "Zingi" coast, to a point certainly below Mogdishu, was subject to the Abyssinian Kingdom. Yule notes that the Japanese Encyclopaedia describes a "country of the Tsengu in the S. W. ocean, where there is a bird called pheng, which in its flight eclipses the sun. It can swallow a camel, and its quills are used for water casks." This is doubtless the Zanghibar coast, the name and legend reaching Japan through the Arabs.

The lack of distinction in ancient geography between Asia and Africa goes back to the dawn of letters. Hecataeus in the 6th century B. C. divided the world into two equal continents—Europe, north of the Mediterranean; Asia, south of it. Around them ran the ocean stream. The distinction is supposed to have been based on temperature. Tozer (History of Ancient Geography, p. 69) refers it to ancient Assyria, açu (sunrise) and irib (darkness) frequently occurring in inscriptions there.


Periplus 093 African single-log canoe.png
15. "In this place there are canoes hollowed from single logs."

15. The Pyralaae Islands are evidently Patta, Manda, and Lamu, back of which there is a thoroughfare, the only protected waterway on the whole coast. This is the "channel;" several rivers empty into it, and there is a passage to the ocean between Manda and Lamu, 2° 18′ S., 40° 50′ E. Vincent's identification of the "channel" with Mombasa, on account of a canal now known to have been dug there much later, is impossible.

15. Ausanitic Coast.—Ausan was a district of Kataban in South Arabia, which had been absorbed by Himyar shortly before the time of the Periplus; hence the natural result, that a dependency of the conquered state should be exploited for the advantage of the Homerite port, Muza.

15. Menuthias.—This whole passage is corrupt, and there are probably material omissions. The first island south of Manda is Pemba (at about 5° S.). But the topographic description is perhaps truer to Zanzibar (about 6° S.), and the name seems perpetuated in the modern Monfiyeh (about 8° S.). Our author was possibly unacquainted with this coast, and included in his work hearsay reports from some seafaring acquaintance, in which he may have lumped the three islands into one; or if he is describing places he has visited (which is suggested by the mention of the local fishing-baskets and the like), some scribe may have omitted a whole section of the text.

16. Rhapta.—This location depends on the condition of the preceding text regarding the island Menuthias. If that be Pemba, Rhapta would be the modern Pangani (5° 25′ S., 38° 50′ E.); if Monfiyeh, the modern Kilwa (8° 57′ S., 39° 38′ E.). Vincent's insistence upon Kilwa is very likely well grounded, from the suggestion of the ancient name; that is, if the text is a mutilated description of three islands known to exist in close proximity, the "last market-town of the continent" would naturally be below the southernmost island, Monfiyeh. But the distances given by Ptolemy between Rhapta and Prasum suggest for the former a location near Bagamoyo, perhaps Dar-es-Salaam, (6° 42′ S., 39° 5′ E.). The Prasum of Ptolemy, the farthest point in Africa known to him, is evidently Cape Delgado (10° 30′ S., 40° 30′ E.). The later identification of Menuthias with Madagascar was due to the discoveries of the Saracens, and is impossible for Roman times.

Rhapta, Glaser notes, has its name from an Arabian word rabta, to bind.


Periplus 095 Wicker fishing.png
15. "They catch them in a peculiar way, in wicker baskets, which they fasten across the channel, opening between the breakers."

16. Great in stature.—"The whole system of slaveholding by the Arabs in Africa, or rather on the coast or at Zanzibar, is exceedingly strange; for the slaves, both in individual strength and in numbers, are so superior to the Arab foreigners, that if they chose to rebel, they might send the Arabs flying out of the land. It happens, however, that they are spell-bound, not knowing their strength any more than domestic animals, and they seem to consider that they would be dishonest if they ran away after being purchased, and so brought pecuniary loss on their owners." (Speke, op. cit., introduction.)

16. Sovereignty of the state that is become first in Arabia.—A vivid picture is here given us of the early policies of the Arabs. Prevented by superior force from expanding northward, but useful commercially to their stronger neighbors, they were free to exploit Africa. The early Egyptian records bear testimony to their activities in the second millennium B. C., if not earlier. The "Ausanitic Coast" mentioned in § 15 was probably a possession of Ausan when that state was independent, which was not later than the 7th century B. C. Later the coast became Katabanic, then Sabaean, then Homerite. From the 3d to the 6th centuries A. D., according to the Adulis inscription and Cosmas Indicopleustes, it was Abyssinian. In Mohammedan times it returned to the Arab allegiance, and until Zanzibar and the adjacent coast accepted the English protectorate they were dependencies of the Sultan of Muscat.

Glaser has well expressed this undoubted fact of Arab dominion (Skizze, II, 209): "We must finally abandon the idea that Mohammed was the first to bring Arabia into a leading position in the world's history. So long as Rome and Persia (and Egypt and Babylon before them) retained their power, the Arabs could expand in Africa only. But as soon as these states became exhausted, then Arabia burst forth irresistibly and overflowed the northern world." (See also Punt und die Südarabischen Reiche, 20–23.)

Previous translators of the Periplus have much misunderstood the meaning of this passage in the text.

16. Arab captains who know the whole coast.—The discovery by Carl Maunch in 1871, of strange temple-like structures in northern Rhodesia, led to a great deal of wild assumption as to their history. The ruins are loosely-built stone enclosures, some of them irregularly elliptical in form, having conical pillars within, and apparently facing North, East, and West. The largest of them were situated somewhat South of the present Salisbury–Beria railway line, near the upper waters of the Sabi River and within reach of the trade of Sofala, known to have been frequented by Arab traders in mediaeval times. It was at once assumed that they were of Sabaean or Phoenician origin and of great antiquity. The subject was voluminously but uncritically written up. See for instance Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia, by Hall and Neal, London, 1894; Monomotapa, by A. Wilmot, London, 1896, and The Ruined Cities of Mashonaland, by J. T. Bent, London, 1902.

The appearance of the structures suggested the form of ancient Arabian temples, and the locality was at once identified with the ubiquitous "land of Ophir" of King Solomon's voyages. Professor Müller (Burgen und Schlösser, II, 20), noted a resemblance between the Zimbabwe enclosure (20° 30′ S., 31° 10′ E.) and the temple at Marib, the capital of the ancient Sabaean kingdom of Southern Arabia. The whole argument was of course pure assumption, as there is no reference in ancient literature to any knowledge of the African coast within six hundred miles of the port of Sofala. Dr. David Randall-Maciver made a careful investigation of the ruins in 1905, and proved conclusively in his account of that work, Mediaeval Rhodesia, London, 1906, that the structures were the work of negroes, probably Kaffirs, of the so-called kingdom of Monomotapa. A piece of Nankin china of the late mediaeval period, found in the cement at the bottom of one of the structures, showed that they could not date earlier than the 14th or 15th century. They were enclosures for defence, rudely built of loose stone, and their supposed orientation was found to be inexact and probably accidental.

The service done by Dr. Maciver in disproving the antiquity of this Kaffir kraal did not, however, need to be supplemented by his denial (pp. 1–2) of the probability of Arabian trade far down this coast at a very early age. The Periplus mentions Rhapta, some distance south of the Zanzibar islands, as the last settlement on the coast; and Ptolemy describes Cape Delgado. Dr. Maciver may have known the Periplus only through the account given by Guillain in 1856 (Documents sur l'histoire, la géographie et le commerce de l'Afrique Orientale), but at all events he ignores the detailed account given in both those works, and in the Periplus the statement is definitely made that this whole coast (to about 10° S.) was "subject under some ancient right to the sovereignty of the power which held the primacy in Arabia;" that is, in the 1st century A. D. the right was still so ancient as to be beyond the explanation of the merchant who described it. The coast was frequented by Arab ships in command of Arab captains who knew the harbors, spoke the language of the natives and intermarried with them.

This condition is corroborated by the known Arab infusion in the negro peoples on the whole coast, which is of far earlier origin than the Mohammedan colonization.

Who were the natives and what was their language, as mentioned in the Periplus? Rev. J. Torrend, S. J., in a paper read before the Rhodesia Scientific Association, included in its Proceedings (V, 2, Buluwayo, 1905), analyzes the languages of the coast and finds a striking similarity between the speech of the Tana River, which empties below the island of Lamu about 2° 40′ S., and that of the lower Zambesi (18°–19° S.). He gives a long comparative list of words in these so-called Pokomo and Cizimba tongues, evidentally identical. He quotes Dr. Krapf and other German philologists as saying that the Pokomo is the aboriginal language of the coast, and that the modern Swahili is derived from it; and he himself believes that the Cizimba is even more primitive, and that it gives the key to most of the modern dialects of the southern coast. Father Torrend, full of the Sofala–Ophir theory, argues that the language was brought from the Tana River to the Zambesi, not by land because the modern tribes are of peaceful disposition, but rather by sea, and particularly by sea-traders, assuming such to have come from Arabia. The assumption is certainly far-fetched, as it is hardly likely that any traffic, however busy, would have brought this negro language and transplanted it 1500 miles down the coast to a different tribe. The suggestion is rather that this branch of the Bantu race migrated southward within historical times, through the African rift-valley, and that the modern tribes of the lower Zambesi, said to be speaking to-day the most primitive language, are their descendants, while those who remained on the Tana have had their speech modified more notably by later contact with the outside world.

The name Cizimba, borne by the modern dialect, suggests the Agisymba of the Roman geographers; which was known to them through the report of an adventurous youth, Julius Maternus, who marched for four months southward from the Garamantes (Fezzan), and brought back word of a region abounding in rhinoceros, inhabited by negroes and bearing that name (Ptolemy, I, 8, 5). It seems not an unreasonable assumption that he did rich the head-waters of the Nile and found somewhere in that great rift-vally the ancestors of this Bantu tribe which later migrated southward and formed, among other confederations, the so-called Monomotapa of the mediaeval geographers.

This rift-valley of East Africa is a striking feature of its topography, and must have had a great bearing on its early trade. A good description is given by Prof. J. M. Gregory (The Great Rift Valley, London, 1896). It is a natural depression beginning at the lower shore of the Red Sea between Massowa and the straits, taking a south-westerly direction through Abyssinia to the British and German East African possessions, including lakes Rudolf, Nyanza, Tanganyika and Nyassa, and running almost to the Zambezi. While it is unlikely that this valley was ever at one time under the control of any Arabian power, it is probable that the tribes inhabiting it were in more or less regular commercial relations with the North, and that it was a more important avenue of trade than the sea-coast with its broad unhealthy swamps. It is indeed quite possible that the Mashonaland gold, which lay at no great distance south of the valley, might to some extent have found its way along this natural trade-route by exchange from tribe to tribe; and it is entirely unnecessary, in disproving the antiquity of the Mahonaland ruins, to attempt to disprove the manifest fact of early Arab influence and infusion along the East African coast. Neither is it necessary to deny the general infiltration of early Arabian culture in two directions from the head-waters of the Nile, southward down the rift-valley, and westward through the Sudan toward the Gulf of Guinea. In fact this general spread of culture, folk-lore and religious beliefs and practices, is too well attested to admit of denial.

17. Palm oil.—The word in the text, nauplios, is corrected to nargilios, a word which appears in modified forms in other Greek geographers. This is the Sanscrit narikela, narikera, Prakrit nargil, "cocoanut," and the appearance of the word on the Zanzibar coast is of course a confirmation of Indian trade there. (See Lassen, op. cit., I, 267.) The Greek word was koix, whence the adjective koukiophoros, Latin cucifera, from which the Periplus, § 19, coins the Greek adjective koukinos.

This palm oil was from Cocos nucifera, Linn., order Palmeae; probably native in the Indian archipelago, and carried by natural causes as well as Hindu activity to most of the tropical world. It is one of the most useful plants known, providing timber for houses and ships, leaves for thatch and fiber for binding and weaving, aside from the food value of the nut, fresh and dried, and the oil. As a medicine also it was of importance to the Hindus, the pulp of the ripe fruit being mixed with clarified butter, coriander, cumin, cardamoms, etc., to form their narikela-khanda, a specific for dyspepsia and consumption. The nut was described by Cosmas Indicopleustes in the 6th century as argellion: and by Marco Polo in the 13th century (I, 102; II, 236, 248) as Indian nut. (See also Watt, op. cit., 349–363.)


18. Unexplored ocean.—This reflects the settled belief of the Greeks that Africa was surrounded by the ocean and could be circumnavigated. Herodotus gives an account, by no means impossible (IV, 42) of a Phoenician expedition, under the Pharaoh Necho, which did so about 600 B. C., returning to Egypt in the third year of their journey. Eratosthenes and Strabo placed the southern ocean immediately below Cape Guardafui; Pliny though it began even at "Mossylum" west of Guardafui; our author shifts it to the Zanzibar Channel, and Ptolemy carried it as far as the Madagascar Channel. The actual southern extension of Africa was not known to Europeans until the Portuguese discoveries in the 15th century. The Saracens seem to have discovered it in the 9th or 10th century, but their knowledge did not reach Europe. The Guinea coast was known in part to the Carthaginians and Romans, and they supposed that it continued due eastward and thus joined the Indian Ocean, or "Erythraean Sea."

The current ideas of geography at this time are reflected by the accompanying map according to Pomponius Mela, about 44 A. D. The contribution of the author of the Periplus was to establish the southern extension of both Africa and India, to a distance never before understood by his civilization.

19. To the left.—This section begins the account of a second voyage, from Berenice to India.

19. White Village (Leukē Komē) is placed by most commentators at El Haura, 25° 7′ N. 37° 13′ E., which lies in a bay protected by Hasani Island. The name Haura also means "white," and the Arab name itself appears as Auara in Ptolemy. The place is on the regular caravan route that led, and still leads, from Aden to the Mediterranean.

The words "from Mussel Harbor," in the text, are probably there only through an error from copying. The distance and direction are more nearly right from Berenice, which is the starting-point named at the beginning of this paragraph.

19. Petra. (30° 19′ N., 35° 31′ E.) lay on the Wady Musa, east of the Wady-el-Araba, the great valley connecting the Dead Sea with the Gulf of Akaba. It was the great trading center of the northern Arabs, and the junction of numerous important caravan-routes, running from Yemen northward, and from the Persian Gulf eastward. Thus it controlled the Eastern trade from both directions, and held its advantage until the results of Trajan's conquests transferred the overland trade to Palmyra; the sea-trade having been already diverted to Alexandria.

The district of Arabia Petraea has its name from this city. The native name, according to Josephus (Ant. Jud. IV, 7, 1) was Rekem, referring to the variegated color of the reocks in the Wady Musa. The Biblical name was Sela, “a city of Edom” (2 Kings, XIV, 7; Isaiah, XVI, 1; Judges, I, 36). Sela (Arabic Sal) means a “hollow between rocks,” and Obadiah, 3, apostrophizes Edom as “thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rocks, whose habitation is on high.” Strabo (XVI, IV, 21) says “Petra is situated on a spot which is surrounded and fortified by a smooth and level rock, which externally is abrupt and precipitous, but within there are abundant springs of water both for domestic purposes and for watering gardens. Beyond the enclosure the country is for the most part a desert, particularly toward Judaea. . . . Athenodorus, my friend, who had been to Petraea, used to relate with surprise, that he found many Romans and also many other strangers residing there.”

Ammianus Marcellinus (XIV, 8, 13) describes the place as “full of the most plenteous variety of merchandise, and studded with strong forts and castles, which the watchful solicitude of its ancient inhabitants has erected in suitable defiles, in order to repress the inroads of the neighboring nations.”

The topography of Petra is well known through the descriptions of Flinders Petrie and others. It was a fertile bit of valley surrounded by precipitous cliffs, with a long, narrow and winding entrance, and almost impregnable. It seems to have been, first, a place of refuge and a safe storehouse for the myrrh, frankincense, silver, etc., coming from Yemen. The Biblical references show it as an Edomite stronghold; but, being abandoned when the Edomites entered Palestine after the Babylonian captivity, it was taken by the Nabataeans; whom Josephus makes the descendants of Nebaioth, son of Ishmael, while Glaser and others see rather Nabatu, an Aramaic tribe noted in the inscriptions of Tiglathpileser III (745–727 B. C.), who migrated to the valley of Edom probably in the 6th century B. C.

Here the Nabataeans were at first nomadic and predatory, inviting attack by land from Antigonus, and by sea on the Gulf of Akaba, from the Ptolemies (Agatharchides, 88; Strabo, XVI, IV, 18). Soon, however, they settled down to orderly commerce and prospered exceedingly, as the ruins of Petra testify. One may supposed that a part, at least, of their trouble with Syria and Egypt was due to their commercial aggressiveness rather than their predatory habits. They fought hard to maintain and control the caravan trade against the competition from Egyptian shipping. In their dealings with Rome they tried to carry water on both shoulders; helping Titus against Jerusalem, but supporting the Parthians against Rome as occasion offered. This conflict of interests was terminated in 105 A. D., when Trajan reduced them to subjection (Dio Cassius, LXVIII, 14). After that time Petra declined; the ship of the desert was blanketed by the ship of the sea; and when the overland trade revived, toward the end of the 2d century, it was Palmyra which reaped the advantage.

19. Malichas.—The mention of this king of the Nabataeans is important in fixing the date of the text. Ordinarily the name might be accepted as a transcription of the Arabic word malik—Hebrew melech, king, which appears in such Hebrew names as “Abimelech” and “Melchizedek;” but according to the writings of Josephus, who as a Jew would have been likely to distinguish between the name and the title, there were kings having that name in what he called the “country of Arabia,” which was certainly the same as that of the Nabataeans. In his Antiquities of the Jews (XIV, 14, 1) he mentions Malchus, King of Arabia, who had befriended Herod and who had loaned him money just before his case was taken up by Mark Antony, and the Roman Senate agreed to make him King of the Jews. This occurred in the year 38 B. C. This same Malchus loaned cavalry to Julius Caesar for his siege of Alexandria (Aulus Hirtius, Bell. Alex., I, i); and subsequently sent auxiliaries to Pacorus, the Parthian emperor, for which Mark Antony compelled him to pay an indemnity.

This Malchus can not, of course, be the one mentioned in the Periplus. But Josephus (Jewish War, III, 4, 2) mentions a King of Arabia, Malchus, who sent a thousand horsemen and five thousand footmen to the assistance of Titus in his attack upon Jerusalem. These events were in the year 70 A. D., and this King Malchus can hardly be other than the Malichas mentioned in text. See also Vogüé, Syrie Central, who quotes inscriptions of this Malichas or Malik, and of his father Aretas Philodemus, or Hareth, a contemporary of Tiberius and Caligula.

19. Small vessels from Arabia.Strabo (XVI, IV, 24) has the following account of this trade: “Merchandise is conveyed from Leuce Come to Petra, thence to Rhinocolura in Phoenicia near Egypt, and thence to other nations. But at present the greater part is transported by the Nile to Alexandria. It is brought from Arabia and India to Myos Hormus, and is then conveyed on camels to Coptos of the Thebais, situated on a canal of the Nile, and to Alexandria.”

The policy of the Ptolemies, in seeking to free Egypt from commercial dependence on Yemen, and to encourage direct communication with India, had been continued by Rome at the expense of the Arabs. The “small vessels” of § 19 from Muza to the Nabataean port are to be contrasted with the “large vessels” of § 10 that traded from Mosyllum to Egypt. The caravan trade could not be reached in the same way, and along the Red Sea the camel could always compete with the ship. This remained in Arabian hands for another half-century, when the Emperor Trajan reduced the Nabataeans to subjection to Rome.

19. Centurion.Vincent assumes that this was a Roman officer, but the text does not indicate it. At this time the kingdom of the Nabataeans was independent, powerful and prosperous; as it might well have been, from the 25 per cent duty our author tells us it levied on the rich trade between Arabia and Rome.

20. Arabia.—Two meanings are attached to this word in the text; in this § 20 and in § 49 it refers to the entire peninsula; in every other instance it means Yemen, the Homerite–Sabaite kingdom as distinguished from the other kingdoms and political divisions of the peninsula.

20. Differing in their speech.—In the north the Nabataeans spoke a dialect of the Aramaic; along the coast the “Carnaites” spoke various Ishmaelite dialects, out of which has grown the modern Arabic; at the trading-posts of the true Minaeans, their own language, allied to Hadramitic, was spoken; on reaching Yemen, the speech was Himyaritic.

20. Similarly,— that is, to the opposite coast below Berenice, described at the beginning of the first voyage, in § 2.

20. Rascally men.—Compare the observations of other writers concerning these same Beduin robbers:

“The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: and the Sabaeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword” (Job I, 14–15. These are not the Sabaeans of Yemen, but men of Saba in Central Arabia, the “nation tall and smooth” of Isaiah XVIII.)

“The Beduins have reduced robbery in all its branches to a complete and regular system, which offers many interesting details” (Burckhardt.)

“Before we lightly condemn the robber we must realize his sore need. According to Doughty and other travelers three-fourths of the Beduins of northwest Arabia suffer continual famine. In the long summer drought when pastures fail and the gaunt camel-herds give no milk they are in a very sorry plight; then it is that the housewife cooks her slender mess of rice secretly, lest some would-be guest should smell the pot. The hungry gnawing of the Arab’s stomach is lessened by the coffee-cup and the ceaseless ‘tobacco-drinking’ from the nomad’s precious pipe.” (Zwemer, Arabia the Cradle of Islam, p. 157.)

“Thou shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Gen. XVI, 11–12.)

20. Carnaites.—These wild tribes are called in the text Canraites, which cannot be identified with any other contemporary record. Some commentators would change the name to Cassanites; and Fabricius, following Sprenger, substitutes Cananites. Glaser’s suggestion is certainly preferable (Skizze, 165–6). He thinks that the n and r should be reversed, making Carnaites; Karna being one of the northern settlements of the ancient kingdom of the Minaeans, to which the neighboring Beduin tribes were nominally subject. Pliny (VI, 32) and Ptolemy both mention this place as a city of the Minaeans; whom Pliny describes as the oldest commercial people in Arabia, having a monopoly in the trade in myrrh and frankincense, through their control of the caravan-routes from the producing regions. He refers doubtfully to their legend of the relationship of the Minaeans and Rhadamaeans to Minos of Crete and his brother Rhadamanthus. Pliny need not have doubted, and is to be thanked for preserving this evidence of early Arabian trade in the Mediterranean. Ptolemy adds his testimony to the wide extent of this early Arabian trade, when he describes the “people called Rhamnae who dwelt in the extreme east near the banks of the Purali, and who planted their capital at a place called Rhambacia.” From Crete to the borders of India was no mean sphere of activity. Compare Ezekiel XXVII, 22: “The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, they were thy merchants: they occupied in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold.”

Strabo also (XVI, III, 1) describes “the Minaei in the part toward the Red Sea, whose largest city is Carna; next to them are the Sabaeans, whose chief city is Mariaba.”

At the time of the Periplus the term “Minaean” was no longer limited to the southern traders, but had been exteneded to include the nomadic Ishmaelites over whom their settlements along the caravan-routes exerted a varying measure of authority.

The Minaean kingdom had long since lost its identity, having been conquered by the Sabaeans. When Saba fell before Himyar its allegiance was transferred likewise; but we may assume that at the date of the Periplus it was almost independent. When the Homerite dynasty became powerful, it asserted its authority over most of the Hejaz; when the Abyssinians conquered Yemen their rule was not acknowledged so far north. The insurgence of the Ishmaelites under the spur of Islam was a logical consequence of centuries of civil war among their former overlords in Yemen.

20. Burnt Island is identified by Ritter and Müller with Jebel Tair, 15° 35′ N., 41° 50′ E.; a volcanic island in the direct course from Berenice to Muza. Fabricius prefers Disan, the most northerly of the Farsan group, 16° 45′ N., 41° 40′ E.; but this location is improbable, as being out of the course "straight down the middle of the gulf," and in the midst of "foul waters."

20. Chiefs and Kings of Arabia.—The turmoil in South Arabia at this time has already been mentioned. Within a few years the Habashat had been driven to Africa, Kataban and Saba had succumbed, and Hadramaut and Himyar remained. The Homerite dynatsy was not yet firmly established, and the condition of the country was feudal, each tribe enjoying a large measure of independence. Such is the condition here described, where Mapharitis, nominally Homerite, levied its own taxes on commerce, and maintained its own colonial enterprise in Azania.

21. Muza, mentioned by our author as a seaport, is identified with the modern Mocha (13° 19′ N., 43° 20′ E.). According to Pliny and Ptolemy, the market-town was some miles inland, probably at the modern village of Mauza; and Pliny distinguishes the seaport as Masala. Both names still exist (Glaser, Skizze, 138–40; 168). In the Periplus the name of the city is, apparently, extended to include the port.

21. Twelve thousand stadia.—The actual distance is about 800 miles or 8000 stadia. It may be a mistake in the text (a very easy matter with Greek numerals), or, as Bunbury suggests (History of Ancient Geography, II, 455) our author may have calculated the distance as so many days' sail of 500 stadia each. No calls being made on the coast, contrary winds might readily cause such an error in calculation. Where no instruments existed for measuring distances, estimates would necessarily be rather general.

21. Sending their own ships,—to the Somali coast and India in competition with the Egyptian Greeks; down the east African coast to their own possessions (§ 16) where they doubtless enjoyed special privileges. Foreign shipping was unwelcome at Muza, which preferred to supply the north-bound caravans. Roman subjects, such as our author, had to pay dearly, in the form of gifts to the rulers, for permission to trade there; Hindu shipping was stopped at Ocelis (§ 25).

22. Saua is identified by Sprenger with the Sa'b of Ibn Mogâwir, (13° N., 44° E.). Ritter and Müller, following Niebuhr, prefer the modern Ta'is (13° 35′ N., 43° 55′ E.), in the mountains about 40 miles above Mocha.

22. Mapharitis is the country of the Ma'âfir, a tribe belonging to the Himyaritic stock, whose chief or sheikh had, evidentally, especial privileges from his "lawful king" (§ 23) Charibael. Their location was in the southern Tehama.

22. Cholaebus is the Arabic Kula'ib.

23. Saphar, mentioned by Arabian geographers as Zafar, is located by Niebuhr about 100 miles N. E. of Mocha on the road to Sanaa, near the modern town of Yerum, some miles southeast of which, on the summit of a circular hill, its ruins still exist. Zafar was the capital of the Homerite dynasty, displacing Marib, that of the Sabaean, Timna of the Gebanite, and Carna of the Minaean. Here, in the 4th century A. D., a Christian church was built, following negotiations between the Roman Emperor Constantius and the Homerite King Tubba ibn Hassan, who had embraced Judaism. In the 6th century it was the seat of a bishopric, one incumbent of which, St. Gregentius, resented a profanation of the church at Sanaa by certain of the Koreish, inspired the Abyssinian government, then ruling in Yemen, to undertake a disastrous expedition against Mecca.

23. Charibael.—This is the Arabic Kariba-îl, and means "God blessed (him)." (Hommel, The Ancient Hebrew Tradition, p. 84.) Glaser has shown this to be a royal title, rather than a name, and has edited numerous inscriptions of a king named Kariba-îl Watar Juhan'im who ruled about 40—70 A. D., and whom he identifies with this Charibael. (Die Abessinier in Arabien und Afrika, pp. 37–8.)

23. Homerites and Sabaites.—Both were of the Joktanite race of South Arabia, the former being the younger branch. In the tribal genealogy in Genesis X, we are shown their relation to the Semites of the North. Three of the children of Shem are given as Elam, Asshur, and Arphaxad. Arphaxad's son was Salah, and his grandson Eber. These names are associated with Babylonia and Chaldaea. Eber's second son was Joktan, of which the Arabic form is Kahtan, which appears farther south along the Persian Gulf, in the peninsula of El Katan. Of the sons of Joktan, most are identified with the southern coast; two of them being Hazarmaveth (Hadramaut), and Jerah (cf. the Jerakôn Komê of Ptolemy, north of Dhofar). The last-named the Arabs call Yarab: his son was Yashhab (cf. the Asabi in Oman, § 35, and his grandson “ Saba the Great ” (surnamed Abd-es-Shems) is said to have founded the city of Marib, and to have begun its great dam, on which the irrigation of the vicinity depended. The Sabaeans are thus connected with this Saba, a descendant of Jerah, and not with Sheba, son of Joktan, who is referred rather to Central Arabia; whom Glaser and Hommel would make a colony from Yemen, while Weber would reverse the process, having the Sabaeans migrate southward for the conquest of the Minaeans.

According to Arab accounts the dam at Marib was finished by a certain King Zul Karnain, suggesting the primacy of the Minaean dynasty at that time; but from about the 7th century B. C. the Sabaeans were supreme in all southern Arabia, controlling the caravan-routes, and forcing the wild tribes into caravan service. Colonies and resting-stations were established at intervals along the routes. We learn from the Koran (Chap. XXXIV) that the journey was easy between these cities, and travel secure by night or by day; the distances being so short that the heat of the day might be passed in one, and the night in the next, so that provisions need not be carried. The number of such settlements may be inferred from Strabo's statement that the caravans took seventy days between Minaea and Aelana; and all the Greek and Roman writers, from Eratosthenes to Pliny, testify to the value of the trade, the wealth of those who controlled it, and their jealous hindrance of all competition.

The entry of the fleets of the Ptolemies into the Red Sea, and their establishment of colonies along its shores, dealt a hard blow to the caravan-trade. If we sift fact from homily in the same chapter of the Koran, we find that the result was abandonment of many of the caravan-stations, and a consequent increase in the cost of camel-hire and of the provisions which now had to be carried; impoverishment, dispersion and rebellion of the dwellers in the stations, so that finally “ most of the cities which were between Saba and Syria were ruined and abandoned,” and a few years later than the Periplus, Marib itself, stripped of its revenues and unable to maintain its public works, was visited with an inundation which carried away its famous reservoir-dam, making the city uninhabitable and forcing the dispersion of its people. Many of them seem to have migrated northward and to have settled in the country southeast of Judaea, founding the kingdom of the Ghassanids, which was for generations a bulwark of the Roman Empire at its eastern boundary.

The great expedition against Sabaea by the Romans under Aelius Gallus, (Strabo, XVI, IV, 22–4; Pliny, VI, 32) never got beyond the valley of the Minaeans; turning back thence, as Vincent surmised (II, 306–311), and as Glaser proves (Skizze, 56–9), without reaching Marib, and probably without inflicting any lasting injury on the tribes along their route. It was the merchant-shipping of the Romans, and not their soldiery, that undermined the power of the Sabaeans.

As the wealth of the Marib declined, its power was resolved into its elements, and was reorganized by a neighbor of the same blood. The oldest son of Saba the Great, founder of Marib, was Himyar, whose descendants included most of the town-folk of the southwest corner of Arabia. Two sons of Himyar, Malik and Arib, had carried the Joktanite arms back toward the east again, subduing the earlier inhabitants of the frankincense region north of Dhofar. The center of the tribe was at Zafar, southwest of Marib, and some days' journey nearer the sea. Allied with the sheikh at Zafar was he of the Ma'âfir, controlling the port of Muza. This combination was able to overthrow the old order, Zafar supplanting Marib, and Muza stripping Aden of its trade and its privileges along the African coast. Thereafter the Himyarite dynasty—the Homerite kings—assumed the title “ Kings of Saba and Raidan.” This was during the first century B. C.

The subsequent policy of the Kariba-îls of Zafar was to expand both north and east, to regain the old supremacy over the “ Carnaites ” along the caravan-routes, and to control the shipping from the east.

(See Prof. D. H. Müller’s article, Yemen, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th Edition; Glaser, Skizze and Die Abessinier, etc.; Weber, Arabien vor dem Islam in Der alte Orient, III, Leipzig, 1901; Prof. Hommel's chapter, Arabia, in Hilprecht, Exporations in Bible Lands, Phila., 1903; Hogarth, The Penetration of Arabia, N. Y., 1904; and the reports of the Austrian South-Arabian Expedition.)

23. Embassies and gifts.—This wooing of Yemen by Rome was soon ended. It was no part of the Arab policy, whether Homerite, Minaean, or Nabataean, to let Rome cultivate direct relations with India, and as the empire expanded stronger measures were necessary. Fifty years later than the Periplus, Trajan had captured Petra, and Abyssinia was being subsidized to attack Yemen.

23. A friend of the Emperors.—Some commentators suppose that this refers to a time when two Roman emperors ruled together, thus dating the Periplus well into the 2d century A. D., but there is nothing in the text to require it. The Homerite king, who began to rule, probably, in the last days of Claudius, was simply, (in the mind of our author, writing earl in the reign of Nero), the friend of both those Roman Emperors, as he was also of several others whose short reigns coincided with his. A list of the Emperors of the 1st and 2d centuries confirms this:
Roman Parthian
b.c. a.d. b.c.
39 14 Augustus Caesar Phraates IV 37 2
a.d. b.c. a.d.
14 37 Tiberius Phraataces 2 ?
37 41 Caligula Orodes II ?
41 54 Claudius Vonones I ? 16
54 68 Nero Artabanus III 16 42
68 69 Galba Vardanes 42 46
69 Otho Gotarzes 46 51
69 Vitellius Vonones II 51
69 79 Vespasian Volagases I 51 78
79 81 Titus Pacorus 78 108
81 96 Domitian Chosroes 108 130
96 98 Nerva Volagases II 130 149
98 117 Trajan Volagases III 149 191
117 138 Hadrian Volagases IV 191 209
138 161 Antoninus Pius disputed succession:
161 169 Marcus Aurelius Volagases V 209 215
Lucius Verus Artabanus III
169 180 Marcus Aurelius Artabanus III 215 226
180 192 Commodus (End of Parthian Empire)
193 Pertinax
193 Didius Julianus
193 211 Septimius Severus
211 212 Caracalla
212 217 Caracalla
217 218 Macrinus
218 222 Heliogabalus
222 235 Alexander Severus
Two Roman Emperors serving together:
Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus—161–169.
Caracalla, Geta—211–212.
Valerian, Gallienus—253–259.
Diocletian, Maximian—286–305, and through several succeeding reigns.

24. Saffron (Crocus sativus, Linn., order Iridaceae).—The part that entered into trade was the stamens and pistils of the flower, which were used medicinally, as a paint or dye, a seasoning in cookery, and a perfume or ingredient of ointments.

As a perfume, halls, theatres and courts were strewed with the plant, and it entered into the composition of many spirituous extracts, which retained the same scent. (See Pliny, XIII, 2.)

Lucan (Pharsalia, IX, 809) refers to the “ sweet-smelling essence of saffron that issues from the limbs of a statue.”

Saffron also entered into many of the scented salves or balsams. It was much adulterated by adding the stigmata of other plants, such as the safflower (Carthamus tincturius, order Compositae), and the marigold (Calendula officinalis, order Compositae).

Pliny (XXI, 81) says, “ Saffron is blended with wine or water and is extremely useful in medicine. It is generally kept in horn boxes. Applied with egg it disperses all kinds of inflammations, those of the eyes in particular; it is employed also for hysterical suffocations, and for ulcerations of the stomach, chest, kidneys, liver, lungs, and bladder. It is particularly useful in cases of inflammation of those parts, and for cough and pleurisy. . . . . The flower is used locally with Cimolian chalk for erysipelas.” (See also Beckmann, op. cit., I, 175–7.)

24. Sweet rush.—The text is kyperos. There is much confusion among the Roman writers between various species of aromatic rush, some including the calamus of the Hebrew anointing oil (Exodus XXX), which was probably Acorus calamus, Linn., order Arvideae; a semi-aquatic sub-tropical herb, useful medicinally and as a flavor. But Pliny (XIII, 2) distinguishes between “ Syrian calamus ” and “ Syrian sweet-rush,” both components of the Parthian “ regal ointment;” so that sweet-rush may rather have been Andropogon schoenanthus, Linn., order Gramineae. An account of its production is given by Pliny (XII, 48), and of its medicinal properties (XXI, 70). That most highly esteemed, he says, came from near the temple of Jupiter Ammon in Egypt; the next best from Rhodes. It had an odor resembling that of nard; and aside from its use in perfumes and ointments, it was employed as a diuretic, and with wine and vinegar for throat ulcers, or in liniments for ulcerous sores generally.

It is possible, also, that the kyperos of the text may have been the Egyptian papyrus (Cyperus papyrus, Linn., order Cyperaceae); used, according to Pliny (XIII, 21–2) for boat-building, sails and mats, cloths, coverlets and ropes, and the roots for fuel. He notes it as a product of Syria, growing in conjunction with the sweet calamus, and much favored by King Antiochus for cordage for his navy, instead of spartum, which was preferred by the Romans. Again (XXXIII, 30) he says papyrus was used for smelting copper and iron, being favored next to pine wood.

The suggestion in the text is, however, for an aromatic rather than cordage or fuel so that Andropogon schoenanthus is the more probable identification.

McCrindle's suggestion of turmeric (Curcuma longa, Linn., order Zingiberaceae) and galangal (Alpinia officinarum, Hance, order Zingiberaceae) are not borne out by Pliny’s descriptions; and these are both products of the Far East, while the text indicates an Egyptian or Mediterranean product.

24. Fragrant ointments.Pliny (XIII, 1) says that “ luxury thought fit to mingle all known fragrant odors, and to make one single odor of the whole; hence the invention of ointments. The Persians use them extensively, and they quite soak themselves in it, and so, by an adventitious recommendation, counteract the bad odors which are produced by dirt.”

His account of the manufacture of ointments (XIII, 2) throws light on numerous articles of trade in his time. There were two principal components. They consisted of oils or juices, and solids: the former known as stymmata, the later as hedysmata. A third element was the coloring matter, usually cinnabar or alkanet. Resin and gum were added to fix the odor. Among the stymmata were oil of roses, sweet-rush, sweet calamus, xylo-balsamum, myrtle, cypress, mastich, pomegranate-rind, saffron oil, lilies, fenugreek, myrrh, cassia, nard, and cinnamon. The hedysmata included amomum, nard, myrrh, balsam, costus, and marjoram.

Myrrh used by itself, without oil, formed an ointment, but it was stacte only that must be used, for otherwise it would be too bitter.

The formula of the “ royal ointment,” made for the Parthian Kings, included myrobalanus, costus, amomum, cinnamon, comacum, cardamom, spikenard, marum, myrrh, cassia, storax, ladanum, opobalsamum, Syrian calamus and Syrian sweet-rush, oenanthe, malabathrum, serichatum, cypress, aspralathus, panax, saffron, cypirus, sweet marjoram, lotus, honey and wine.

The Mendesian ointment included resin and myrrh, oil of balanus, metopion (Egyptian oil of bitter almonds), omphacium, cardamom, sweet-rush, honey, wine, myrrh, seed of balsamum, galbanum, and resin of terebinth.

Another included oils (the common kinds), sampsuchum, lilies, fenugreek, myrrh, cassia, nard, sweet-rush, and cinnamon.

24. Myrrh,—a gum exuded from the bark of a small tree, native to South Arabia, and to some extent in Oman, and the Somali coast of Africa; classified as Balsamodendron Myrrha (Nees), or Commiphora Abyssinica (Engl.), order Burseraceae. It forms the underwood of forests of acacia, moringa, and euphorbia. From earliest times it has been, together with frankincense, a constitutent of incense, perfumes, and ointments. It was an ingredient of the Hebrew anointing oil (Exod. XXX), and was also one of the numerous components of the celebrated kyphi of the Egyptians, a preparation used in fumigations, medicine, and embalming. It was the object of numerous trading expeditions of the Egyptian kings to the “ Land of Punt.” A monement of Sahure, 28th century B. C., records receipts of 80,000 measures of myrrh from Punt. The expedition of Hatshepsut (15th century B. C.) again records myrrh as the most important cargo; its list in the “ marvels of the country of Punt ” was as follows: All goodly fragrant woods of God’s Land, heaps of myrrh-resin, fresh myrrh trees, ebony, pure ivory, green gold of Emu, cinnamon wood, khesyt wood, ihmut incense, sonter incense, eye cosmetic, apes, monkeys, dogs, skins of southern panther, natives and their children. The inscription adds: “ Never was brought the like of this for any king who has been since the beginning.” (Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, II, 109; Flückiger and Hanbury, op. cit., 140–6.)

Pliny (XII, 35) gives a clear account of the gathering of the gum: “ Incisions are made in the myrrh-tree twice a year, and at the same season as the incense-tree; but in the case of the myrrh-tree they are made all the way up from the root as far as the branches which are able to bear it. The tree spontaneously exudes, before the incision is made, a liquid which bears the name of stacte (stazo, to drop) and to which there is no myrrh that is superior. Second only in quality to this is the cultivated myrrh; of the wild or forest kind, the best is that which is gathered in summer.”

Stacte, he says, sold as high as 40 denarrii the pound; cultivated myrrh, at a maximum of 11 denarii; Erythraean at 16, and odoraria at 14. And he concludes: “They give no tithes of myrrh to the god, because it is the produce of other countries as well; but the growers pay the fourth part of it to the king of the Gebanitae. Myrrh is bought up indescriminately by the common people and then packed into bags; but our perfumers separate it without any difficulty, the principal tests of its goodness being its unctuousness and its aromatic smell.

“There are several kinds of myrrh: the first among the wild myrrhs is the Troglodytic; and the next are the Minaean, which includes the aromatic, and that of Ausaritis, in the kingdom of the Gebanitae. A third kind is the Dianitic, and a fourth is the mixed myrrh, or collatitia . . . a fifth again is the Sambracenian, which is brought from a city in the kingdom of the Sabaei, near the sea; and a sixth is known by the name of Ausaritic. There is a white myrrh also which is produced in only one spot, and is carried for sale to the city of Messalum.” (This is the same as the port of Masala or Muza. See Glaser, Skizze, 138.)

The name myrrh is from the Hebrew and Arabic mur, meaning “ bitter.” The ancient Egyptian word was bola or bal, and the Sanscrit was vola. The modern Persian and Indian call it bol or bola.

24. Gebanite–Minaean stacte.—The text is corrupt, having gabeirminaia: Müller and Fabricius alter this to “ Abiraea and Minaea,” which appear in Sprenger’s map of Arabia, but not in the myrrh district. Stacte has already been described as the gum yielded by natural exudation from wild trees, as distinguished from that coming from incisions on trees either wild or cultivated; while the qualifying adjective can hardly be other than Gebanite–Minaean, which was among the best varieties in Pliny’s classification. (See also Glaser, Skizze, 88–9.)

24. Alabaster.Pliny (XIII, 3), says, “ Ointments keep best in boxes of alabaster, and perfumes when mixed with oil, which conduces all the more to their durability the thicker it is, such as the oil of almonds, for instance. Ointments, too, improve with age; but the sun is apt to spoil them, for which reason they are usually stowed away in a shady place in vessels of lead.” (See also Pliny, XXXVI, 12; Mark, XIV, 7; John, XII, 3.)

24. Avalites and the far-side coast.—The text is corrupt, having Adulis; Fabricius translates “ aus dem gegenüber gelegenen Adulis.” But Adulis is not opposite Muza, its exports were quite different, and it is not mentioned that they went to Muza. The relations of Habash and Himyar, at the date of the Periplus, were not those of friendly commerce, and Adulis was distinctly an Egyptian trading-station. On the other hand, the text describes, in § 7, the articles carried by the Berbers from Avalites to Ocelis and Muza for sale there; to which this passage refers as “ already mentioned.” We must concluded, therefore, that the scribe copied “ Adulis ” instead of “ Avalites,” which was what our author wrote.

25. A narrow strait.—This is, of course, the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, or “ Gate of Tears ” (12° 35′ N., 43° 12′ E.), so called because of its treacherous winds and currents.

25. The island Diodorus is the modern Perim (12° 38′ N., 43° 18′ E.).

25. Ocelis is the Acila of Strabo, Artemidorus and Pliny; the name surviving in the modern Cella. Forster traces in this name the tribe of Uzal, son of Joktan (Genesis X, 27) with whom he also connects Ausar (Ausal or Ausan) in the Frankincense Country—which survives in the modern Ras el Sair. This is the district which at one time held the "Ausanitic coast" near Zanzibar, as stated in § 15. The ancient city of Uzal is the modern Sanaa.

Ocelis is identified by Glaser with a bay on the northern side of the promontory of Sheikh Sa'id (12° 48′ N., 43° 28′ E.), a volcanic formation which juts out from the Arabian shore and is separated by a narrow channel from the island of Perim. He notes the probability that Indian ships were permitted to go no further than this place, whence their cargoes went by land to Muza. The text says merely that it was "not a market-town, but the first landing for those sailing into the gulf;" but Pliny (VI, 104) states on the authority of Onesicritus, that Ocelis was the most convenient port for those coming from India. He mentions two other ports, Muza (Masala) and Cana, which were not frequented by Indian travellers, but were only for the merchants dealing in frankincense and Arabian spices.

26. Eudaemon Arabia is the modern Aden (12° 48′ N., 45° 0′ E.), from very early times an important trade center, where goods from the east were trans-shipped for the Mediterranean markets. It was, probably, the Eden of Ezekiel XXVII, 3, and the chief port of the Minaean and Sabaean dynasties. While temporarily in eclipse under the Homerite kings, it had regained its position by the 4th century A. D. when Constantius negotiated for a church to be built there; and the Arabian geographers and Marco Polo refer to its activities in terms almost as glowing as those of Agatharchides.

The Periplus gives the port the name of the entire district; Eudaemon like Felix, being an attempt at translating Yemen, "the country to the right hand" (as one faces the east); the Arabic, like the Greek and Latin, attaching the idea of good fortune to the right hand. Eden had the same signficance, of good fortune.

26. Charibael destroyed the place.—The text is corrupt, having Caesar. It is quite certain that no Roman emperor attacked this place during the 1st century, and the title is equally suspicious, our author having more correctly referred to his sovereign, in § 23, as autokrator. Müller and Fabricius substitute Elisar, retaining the second syllable of the word, and suppose him to have been a king of the Frankincense Country. But Schwanbeck (Rheinischen Museum für Philologie, VII. Jahrgang, 1850) prefers Charibael, and Glaser supports him by proving that Eleazus, and not Elisar, was the name of the king mentioned in § 27.

The indications are against a westward movement by the monarch at Sabbatha; his outlook was in the other direction. The Periplus indicates his control of the fertile frankincense valleys far beyond the account of Strabo, who knew Chatramotitis as a producer of myrrh only; this movement followed the Habash migration. The Chatramotitae had, it is true, to cope with an alliance of Homerites and Persians which ultimately pressed them on either side and engulfed them; but this was in a later century. Saphar and Sabbatha were not yet beyond the period of expansion within their respective spheres. From the Red Sea to the summits of the Arabian Alps was that of the former; the Wadi Hadramaut, on the eastern slope, that of the latter. Between the two lay precipitous mountains. Topography and history alike discredit an attack upon Aden by the Chatramotitae.

But in the alliance of Muza with Saphar we have the motive for the destruction of Aden. The foreign trade was centered at the Homerite port, and Cholaebus gained for his merchants the rights which those of Aden had enjoyed under the Sabaean kings. The loss was not great; Ibn Khaldun (Kay's edition, p. 158) tells us that the city was built mostly of reeds, so that conflagrations by night were common there. It involved hardly more than the discontinuance of an annual fair, as described in the account by Lieut. Cruttenden at Berbera, quoted under § 14.

27. Cana may be identified with Hisn Ghorab (14° 10’ N., 48° 20’ E.), a fine harbor, protected from all winds by projecting capes on either side and by islands in the offing, as described in the text. Here are numerous ruins and one famous Himyaritic inscription, of which a version is given by Forster. The "Island of Birds" is described by Müller as 450 feet high, covered with guano, and thus has its name from the same cause as the promontory Hisn Ghorab (Raven Castle). The modern town is called Bir Ali.

Fabricius (pp. 141–2), following Sprenger and Ritter, locates Cana slightly farther west, at Bâ-l-Haf. This seems not to accord with the text, which says the port was "just beyond the cape projecting from this bay," while Bâ-l-Haf would be "just before." The identification depends too literally on the stated distance of the islands and fails to take into account that they are described as "facing the port." This is true of Hisn Ghorab and not of Bâ-l-Haf.

Müller (p. 278) and Glaser (Skizze, pp. 174–5) support the Hisn Ghorab location by comparison of the distances given by Ptolemy (VI, 7, 10) between his Kanê emporion and the neighboring ports.

From Hisn Ghorab the way to the interior leads up the Wadi Maifa, which empties into the ocean a short distance to the east.

The Cana of the Periplus is probably the same as the Canneh of Ezekiel XXVII, 23.

The trade which it formerly enjoyed passes now through the port of Makalla, some distance to the east, and the capital of the country has shifted in like manner eastward to the modern city of Shibam.

27. Eleazus, King of the Frankincense Country.—This is the Arabic Ili-azzu, “ my God is mighty,” a name which Glaser shows to have belonged to several kings of the Hadramaut; and this Eleazus he identifies with Ili-azzu Jalit, of whose reign, dating about 25–65 A. D., he gives an inscription (Die Abessinier, 34, etc.).

The name given to the kingdom, “ Frankincense Country,” is notable, being a translation of the “ Incense-Land ” of the Habashat, or Aethiopians, already mentioned. This ancient object of contention among the nations was now divided between Hadramaut and Parthia, and its name was, apparently, assumed by the king of the Hadramaut; perhaps officially, but certainly by the popular voice, and by the merchants such as the author of the Periplus, interested in the product of the country and not in its politics.

A glance at the topography of this Incense-Land will help towards an understanding of its dealings with its neighbors. The southern coast of Arabia from Bab el Mandeb to Ras el Hadd has a length of about 1200 miles, divided almost equally in climatic conditions. The western half is largely sandstone bluff, sun-scorched and arid; cut, however, by occasional ravines which bring down scanty rains during the monsoon to fertilize a broad strip of coastal plain. On the western edge the mountains of Yemen, rising above 10,000 feet, attract a good rainfall which waters the western slop toward the Red Sea. On the eastern slope the water-courses are soon lost in the sand, but on the upper levels the valleys are protected and fertile. Such were the Nejran, the Minaean Jauf, and the valley of the Sabaeans, which last was made rich by the great dam that stored its waters for irrigation; and these three valleys, the centers of caravan-trade bound north toward the Nile and Euphrates, owed their prosperity mainly to their position above the greatest of all the east-flowing courses, the Valley of Hadramaut. This great cleft in the sandstone rock, (originally, Bent believes an arm of the sea, now silted up), which gather the streams from the highest peaks, runs parallel with the coast for more than 200 miles, fertile and productive for nearly the entire distance; then it turns to the south and its waters are lost, the mouth of the valley being desert like the cliffs that line its course. This was one of the best frankincense districts.

Beyond the mouth of the Wadi Hadramaut is Ras Fartak, nearly north of Cape Guardafui. Here the climate changes; the monsoon, no longer checked by the African coast, leaves its effect on the coastal hills, which gradually rise above 4000 feet, clothed with tropical vegetation; while the coast plains are narrow and broken. The northern slopes of these mountains (known to our author as Asich, § 33) feed the water-course now known as the Wadi Rekot, about 100 miles long, which empties into the Kuria Muria Bay; beyond which are fertile coast plains as far as Ras el Hadd. These mountains, and the Dhofar and Jenaba districts, facing which lie the Kuria Muria islands, were the oldest and perhaps the most productive of the frankincense districts of Arabia; and it was always the ambition of the various powers of that region to extend their rule so as to include the Dhofar mountains, the Hadramaut valley, and the opposite Somali coast of Africa—thus controlling the production and commanding the price; in short, forming a “ frankincense trust.” The restricted area of the Arabian incense-lands, bordered as they were by the steppe and the desert, made them constantly subject to attack and control by different wandering tribes; while at the same time their local conditions, of intensive cultivation of a controlled product of great and constant value, made for a peculiarly ordered state of society—for a development of caste unusual in Semitic lands, and in which the cultivator, the warrior, and the privileged slave, had their place in the order given.

Of the age-long struggle for control of these sacred lands we know today little more than the Greek writers of two thousand years ago. The modern world takes its little supply of frankincense from the Arab vessels that carry it to Bombay or Aden; its armies are sent to the conquest or defence of lands in other lines of productivity—of a Kimberley, a Witwatersrand, a Manchuria. But to the ancient world the Incense-Land was a true Eldorado, sought by the empires and fought for by every Arab tribe that managed to enrich itself by trading incense for temple-service on the Nile or Euphrates, on Mount Zion, or in Persia, India, or China. The archaeological expedition that shall finally succeed in penetrating these forbidden regions, and recovering the records of their past, cannot fail to add greatly to our store of knowledge of the surrounding civilizations, by showing the complement to such records as those of Hatshepsut in Egypt and Tiglath-Pileser III in Assyria, and by giving the groundwork for the treasured scraps of information preserved by Herodotus, Theophrastus, Eratosthenes, Agatharchides, Strabo, Pliny, and Ptolemy. At present we must be satisfied with such knowledge of the Incense-Land as may be had from these, and from inscriptions found by Halévy and Glaser in the homes of its neighbors, the Minaeans and Sabaeans.

During the 2d and 1st centuries B. C., the greater part of the Incense-Land was held by the Incense-People, the Aethiopians or Habashat. Pressure by the Parthians on the East forced an alliance, of which Glaser found the record at Marib, between the Habashat, Hadramaut and Saba on one hand, against Himyar and Raidan on the other. This was not far from 50 B. C. Soon afterwards we find the Habashat gone into their African outposts, and Marib ruled by “ Kings of Saba and Raidan;” while after a couple of generations more the Periplus shows us a Homerite king who rules also over Saba and Raidan and the East African coast; and a king of the Hadramaut whose title is expanded to “ King of the Frankincense Country,” and whose rule extends over the islands of Kuria Muria, Socotra and Masira, all former dependencies of the Habashat.

By the 4th century A. D. the kings at Zafar had absorbed the whole, being known as “ Kings of Saba, Raidan, Hadramaut and Yemen;” while the Abyssinian kings, who regained a foothold in Arabia during that century, were known as “ Kings of Axum, Himyar, Raidan, Habashat, Saba,” etc.

The name “ Hadramaut,” the Hazarmaveth of Genesis X, means “ Enclosure of Death,” referring probably to the crater of Bir Barhut, whose rumblings were held to be the groans of lost souls (W. Robertson Smith: Religion of the Semites, p. 134, and authorities there quoted).

(See Wellsted: Narrative of a Journey to the Ruins of Nakeb el Hajar, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, VII, 20; H. von Maltzan: Reisen in Arabien, Braunschweig, 1873; L. W. C. Van den Berg: Le Hadramaut et les Colonies Arabes dans l'Archipel Indien, Batavia, 1886; J. Theodore Bent: The Hadramaut, a Journey, Nineteenth Century, 1894; Expedition to the Hadramaut, Geographical Journal, IV, 313; L. Hirsch: Reisen in Süd-Arabien, Mahra-Land und Hadhramut, Leiden, 1897; the works already cited of Glaser, Hommel, Weber, Hogarth, and Zwemer; and the Austrian Expedition Reports.)

27. Sabbatha.—The native name of this capital of the Chatramotitae was Shabwa. It lies in the Wadi Rakhiya, some distance above the Wadi Hadramaut, and about 60 miles west of the present capital, Shibam. According to Bent (Geographical Journal, IV, 413; 1894) it is now deserted, save for a few Beduins, who work the salt mines in the vicinity; while the natives are now all in the lower Hadramaut valley.

This is the Sabota of Pliny (VI, 32) "with sixty temples within its walls."

27. Frankincense, one of the most ancient and precious articles of commerce, is a resin exuded from various species of Boswellia, order Burseraceae, native in Somaliland and South Arabia. Birdwood (Trans. Linn. Soc., XXVII, 1871), distinguishes particularly B. Frereana, B. Bhau-Dajiana (the mocrotu of § 9), and B. Carterii, the last-named yielding the best incense. B. thurifera, native in India, yields a resin of less fragrance, much used as an adulterant. Frankincense is thus closely allied to myrrh, bdellium, and benzoin.

The Greek word is libanos, from Hebrew lebonah, Arabic lubân, meaning "white"; cf. laben, the Somali word for cream, and "milk-perfume," which is the Chinese term for frankincense. Marco Polo always calls it "white incense."

Another Hebrew name was shekheleth, Ethiopic sekhin, which Hommel would connect with the "Bay of Sachalites" of § 29.

Periplus 120 Frankincense.png
Frankincense trees, from the Punt Reliefs in the Deir el Bahri temple at Thebes; dating from the 15th century B. C. After Naville.

The inscriptions of the early Egyptian dynasties contain, as we might expect, few references to the trade in incense, which was brought overland to the upper Nile by the "people of Punt and God's Land" and not sought out by the Pharaohs. That incense was in use is sufficiently clear from the early ritual. The expedition to the Incense-Land under Sahure, in the Vth dynasty (28th century B. C.) was a notable exception. In the VIth dynasty, under Pepi II (26th century B. C.), a royal officer Sebni, sent to the Tigre highlands, records how he "descended to Wawat and Uthek, and sent on the royal attendant Iri, with two others, bearing incense, clothing (probably cotton), one tusk, and one hide" (as specimens). In the XIth dynasty, under Mentuhotep VI (21st century B. C.), a record of the completion of a royal sarcophagus states that "Cattle were slaughtered, goats were slain, incense was put on the fire. Behold, an army of 3000 sailors of the nomes of the Northland (Delta of the Nile) followed it in safety to Egypt." And in the XIIth dynasty, under Amenemhet I (20th century B. C.), another royal officer named Intef was sent for stoneto Hammamat along what was, in the time of the Periplus, the caravan-route from Coptos to Berenice. He sought for it eight days without success, then prostrated himself "to Min, to Mut, to — Great-in-Magic, and all the gods of this highland, giving to them incense upon the fire. . . . Then all scattered in search, and I found it, and the entire army was praising, it rejoiced with obeisance; I gave praise to Montu."

Then followed a period of disorder and Arabian domination in Egypt, during which Arab merchants controlled the trade. This was the condition described in Genesis XXXVII, 25, when "a traveling company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead, with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt." It was ended by a native reaction under the great Pharaohs of the XVIIIth or Theban dynasty, under whom the land increased in power in all directions. These monarchs were not content to remain in commercial dependence upon Arabia, but organized great fleets which went to the "Land of Punt" each season and brought back unprecedented treasure. This land in former times, according to the Deir el Bahri reliefs, "the people knew not; it was heard of from mouth to mouth by hearsay of the ancestors. The marvels brough thence under thy fathers, the kings of Lower Egypt, were brought from one to another, and since the time of the ancestors of the kings of Upper Egypt, who were of old, as a return for many payments; none reaching them except thy carriers." But Amon-Re, so the inscription continues, led the Egyptian army by land and sea, until it came to the Incense-Land, and brought back great store of myrrh, ebony and ivory, gold, cinnamon, incense, eye-paint, apes, monkeys, dogs, panther-skins, natives and their children. "Never was brough the like of this for any king who has been since the beginning." Incense-trees were planted in the court of the temple; "heaven and earth are flooded with incense; odors are in the Great House," and the heart of Amon was made glad.

Then followed a series of campaigns in Syria, resulting in the submission of that country, and annual remittances of great quantities of Arabian and Eastern treasure—incense, oil, grain, win, gold and silver, precious stones—while even the "Chief of Shinar" at Babylon sent gifts of lapis lazuli, and the "Genabti" of the Incense-Land came direct, offering their tribute. The sudden opulence of the Theban dynasty made possible a great enrichment in the worship of Amon, and the setting aside of enormous endowments for the temples, as well as annual gifts of princely value. So Rameses II, of the XIXth dynasty (1292–1225 B. C.), "founded for his father offerings for his ka—wine, incense, all fruit, cultivated trees, growing for him;" while the court responded that Rameses himself was "the god of all people, that they may awake, to give to thee incense." His successor Merneptah was bidden by the All-Lord to "set free multitudes who are bound in every district, to give offerings to the temples, to send in incense before the god." And in the XXth dynasty, under Rameses III (1198–1167 B. C.), it seemed as if the resources of the nation were poured bodily into the lap of Amon. The god opened for the Pharaoh "the ways of Punt, with myrrh and incense for thy serpent diadem;" "the Sand-Dwellers came bowing down to thy name." And in the Papyrus Harris, that great record of his gifts and endowments to Amon, compiled for his tomb, there are such entries every year as "gold, silver, lapis lazuli, malachite, precious stones, copper, garments of royal linen, jars, fowl; myrrh, 21,140 deben, white incense 2,159 jars, cinnamon 246 measures, incense 304,093 various measures;" stored of necessity, in a special "Incense House."

(The quotations are from Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt.)

At this time the Hebrews ended their servitude in Egypt and migrated to Palestine; and naturally among them also frankincense was counted holy. The sacred incense of the priests (Exod. XXX, 34–5) was composed of "sweet spices, stacte, onycha, galbanum, with pure frankincense; of each a like weight . . . . a perfume . . . pure and holy." And "when any will offer a meat offering (Levit. II, 1–3) it shall be of fine flavor, and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon . . . and the priest shall burn the memorial upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord." There were special rooms in the temple at Jerusalem for storing it under priestly guard (I Chron. IX, 26–30); and later, when one of these rooms was occupied as a dwelling, it was considered a sacrilege (Nehemiah XIII, 4–9). The trade in the days of Israel's prosperity was important: "Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?" (Song of Solomon III, 6.) "The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah: all they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord." (Isaiah LX, 6.) And the Queen of Sheba "gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices a very great store, and precious stones; there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon." (1 Kings X, 10.)

The Nimrud Inscription of the great Assyrian monarch Tiglath-Pileser III, tells how "fear of the brilliance of Ashur, my lord, overcame Merodach-baladan, of Yakin, King of the Sea-Country," and how he came and made submission, bringing as tribute "gold—the dust of his land—in abundance, vessels of gold, necklaces of gold, precious stones, the product of the sea (pearls?), beams of ushu-wood, ellutu-wood, party-colored clothing, spices of all kinds."

In the Persian empire frankincense was equally treasured. Herodotus tells us that the Arabs brought a tribute of 1000 talents' weight every year to Darius (III, 97), and that a similar quantity was burnt every year by the Chaldaeans on their great altar to Bel at Babylon (I, 183). From the spoils of Gaza in Syria, 500 talents' weight of frankincense was sent by Alexander the Great to his tutor Leonidas (Plutarch, Lives) who had rebuked him for loading the Macedonian altars too lavishly, remarking that he must be more economical until he had conquered the countries that produced the frankincense! (Pliny XII, 32.) The temple of Apollo in Miletus was presented with 10 talents' weight in 243 B. C., by Seleucus II, King of Syria, and his brother Antiochus Hierax, King of Cilicia. The temple of Venus at Paphos was fragrant with frankincense:

" Ipsa Paphum sublimis abit, sedesque revisit
Laeta suas ubi templum illi, centumque Sabaeo
Ture calent arae sertisque recentibus halant."
Virgil, Aeneid, I, 416.

And to the infant Saviour in Bethlehem came "three wise men from the east, with gifts,—gold, frankincense, and myrrh" (Matt. II, 11), signifying, according to a Persian legend quoted by Yule, "the gold the kingship, the frankincense the divinity, the myrrh the healing powers of the Child."

Likewise in funerals were its virtues required. The priests of Amon under the XVIIIth dynasty were instructed to "be vigilant concerning your duty, be ye not careless concerning any of your rules; be ye pure, be ye clean concerning divine things . . . bring ye up for me that which came forth before, put on the garments of my statues, consisting of linen; offer ye to me of all fruit, give ye me shoulders of beef, fill ye for me the altar with milk, let incense be heaped thereon." (Breasted, op. cit., II, 571.) "They buried him in his own sepulchres . . . and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art; and they made a very great burning for him." (II Chron. XVI, 14). At the time of the Periplus this was particularly the fashion in Rome, as Pliny observes with disapproval (VII, 42):—

"It is the luxury which is displayed by man, even in the paraphernalia of death, that has rendered Arabia thus "happy;" and which prompts him to bury with the dead what was originally understood to have been produced for the service of the gods. Those who are likely to be the best acquainted with the matter, assert that this country does not produce, in a whole year, so large a quantity of perfumes as was burnt by the Emperor Nero at the funeral obsequies of his wife Poppaea. And then let us only take into account the vast number of funerals that are celebrated throughout the whole world each year, and the heaps of odors that are piled up in honor of the bodies of the dead; the vast quantities, too, that are offered to the gods in single grains; and yet, when men were in the habit of offering up to them the salted cake, they did not show themselves any the less propitious; nay, rather, as the facts themselves prove, they were even more favorable to us then than they are now. How large a portion, too, I should like to know, of all these perfumes really comes to the gods of heaven, and the deities of the shades below?"

The customs ruling the gathering and shipment of frankincense are carefully described by Pliny (XII, 30), as follows:

"There is no country in the world," (forgetting, however, the Somali peninsula), "that produces frankincense except Arabia, and indeed not the whole of that. Almost in the very center of that region are the Atramitae, a community of the Sabaei, the capital of whose kingdom is Sabota, a place situate on a lofty mountain. At a distance of eight stations from this is the incense-bearing region, known by the name of Saba (Abasa?). This district is inaccessible because of rocks on every side, while it is bounded on the right by the sea, from which it is shut out by tremendously high cliffs. . . . . . The forests extend 20 schoeni in length and 10 schoeni in breadth. (A schoenus = 40 stadia = 4 English miles.)

"Adjoining are the Minaei, a people of another community, through whose country is the sole transit for the frankincense, along a single narrow road. The Minaei were the first people who carried on any traffic in frankincense. . . . It is the Sabaei alone, and no other people among the Arabians, that behold the incense tree;[1] and not all of them, for not over 3000 families have a right to that privilege by hereditary succession; for this reason these persons are called sacred, and are not allowed, while pruning the trees or gathering the harvest, to receive any pollution, either by intercourse with women or coming in contact with the dead; by these religious observances it is that the price of the commodity is so enhanced.

"The natural vintage takes place about the rising of the Dog-star, a period when the heat is most intense; on which occasion they cut the tree where the bark appears to be the fullest of juice, and extremely thin, from being distended to the greatest extent. The incision thus made is gradually extended, but nothing is removed; the consequence of which is, that an unctuous foam oozes forth, which gradually coagulates and thickens. When the nature of the locality requires it, this juice is received upon mats of palm-leaves, through in some places the space around the tree is made hard by being well rammed down for the purpose. The frankincense that is gathered after the former method is in the purest state, though that which falls upon the ground is the heaviest in weight.

"The forest is allotted in certain portions, and such is the mutual probity of the owners, that it is quite safe from all depredation; indeed, there is no one left to watch the tree after the incisions are made, and yet no one is ever known to plunder his neighbor. But, by Hercules! at Alexandria, where the incense is dressed for sale, the workshops can never be guarded with sufficient care; a seal is even placed upon the workmen's aprons and a mask put upon the head, or else a net with very close meshes, while the people are stripped naked before they are allowed to leave work. So true it is that punishments afford less security among us than is to be found by these Arabians amid their woods and forests!

"The incense which has accumulated during the summer is gathered in the autumn; it is the purest of all, and is of a white color. The second gathering takes place in the spring, incisions being made in the bark for that purpose during the winter; this, however, is of a red color, and not to be compared with the other incense."

And of the storage of all the incense of the country in the capital, Pliny gives a further account (XII, 32):

"The incense after being collected, is carried on camels' backs to Sabota, of which place a single gate is left open for its admission. To deviate from the high road while carrying it, the laws have made a capital offense. At this place the priests take by measure, and not by weight, a tenth part in honor of their god, whom they call Sabis; indeed, it is not allowable to dispose of it before this has been done; out of this tenth the public expenses are defrayed, for the divinity generously entertains all those strangers who have made a certain number of days' journey in coming thither. The incense can only be exported through the country of the Gebanitae, and for this reason it is that a certain tax is paid to their king as well.

"There are certain portions also of the frankincense which are given to the priests and king's secretaries: and in addition to these, the keepers of it, as well as the soldiers who guard it, the gate-keepers and various other employees, have their share as well. And then besides, all along the route, there is at one place water to pay for, at another fodder, lodging of the stations and various taxes and imposts besides; the consequence of which is, that the expense for each camel before it arrives at the shores of our sea (the Mediterranean) is 688 denarii; after all this, too, there are certain other payments still to be made to the farmers of the revenue of our empire.

"Hence a pound of the best incense sells at 6 denarii, of the second quality at 5, and of the third quality at 3 denarii."

27. To Cana on rafts.—This was the Dhofar, or "Sachalitic" frankincense, as distinguished from that of the Hadramaut valley, which would naturally go by camel direct to Sabbatha. Pliny (VI, 34) doubts the story of the inflated rafts, derived, he thinks, from a fancied resemblance to the name given the African tribe using them—Ascitae; the Greek word askos meaning "bladder." But the Ascitae, as already shown, were from Asich (§ 33) and were the founders of Axum. And the inflated raft is authentic, being the well-known kelek, a type still in use on the Euphrates, whence the migrating Arabs no doubt brought it to the south coast. This is probably, also, the "cargo-ship" of § 33, sent from Cana to Masira Island for tortoise-shell.


Periplus 127 Assyrian Raft.png
Inflated raft, from a relief at Ninevah. After Layard.

27. The neighboring coast of Persia means that part of the South Arabian coast between Kuria Muria Bay and Ras el Hadd, which had recently been conquered by the Parthian Empire. The word "Parthia" our author avoids, and it is likely that this coast did likewise, knowing rather the independent sphere of influence of the constituent Kingdom of Persia; which, while an integral part of the Arsacid possessions, maintained its local government to an extent never allowed the districts nearer Ctesiphon.

28. Imported into this place.—The list of imports indicates the nature of the trade: a little wheat, wine, and cheap clothing for the Hadramaut, and graven images for the household worship of its king; and the Mediterranean products, copper, tin, coral and storax, for re-shipment to India, where they were in demand (§ 49), and whither they went in Hadramaut shipping (§ 57), along with the frankincense produced in the country. The outlook of Hadramaut, then as now, was toward India by sea, and toward Egypt by land. Bent found the same conditions; the capital full of Parsee merchants, the natives going to India, the Straits and Java, and returning when they had amassed a competence; the English protectorate accepted because of England's domination of India, in the face of the religious convictions of the rulers and people (Geographical Journal, IV, 322). Maltzan described the Hadrami traders in Cairo as the keenest of the lot, and spoke of their activities in the East; while the Dutch government, finding the islands of Java and Sumatra overrun with Hadramaut Arabs, stimulated inquiries of them in Batavia, which resulted in Van den Berg's book on their country, comprising more details than Bent could gather on the spot! An enterprising and uncompromising people, these Chatramotitae, who may have been the active power in the Minaean dynasty and the Sabaean that followed it, both of whom subsisted mainly on the carriage of frankincense to the north, in which they were the mediators between the profane world and the unpolluted caste of those who were able by propitiating the spirit of the sacred tree, to shed and gather its blood for the purification of mankind.

28. Coral.—This was the red coral of the Mediterranean, which commanded a high price in India and China, and was one of the principal Roman exports thither, being shipped to Barbaricum, Barygaza and Muziris. (See §§ 39, 49, and 56.) As an import at Cana it was intended for reshipment to India in Arab or Hindu bottoms.

28. Storax in Roman times meant two different things: one, a solid, was the resin of Styrax officinalis, order Styracaceae, somewhat resembling benzoin, and used in incense. Liquid storax was the sap of Liquidambar orientalis, order Hamamelidaceae, native in S. W. Asia Minor, and exported, according to Flückiger and Hanbury (Pharmacographia, pp. 271–6), as far as China. It was an expectorant and stimulant, useful in chronic bronchial afflictions. The Periplus does not distinguish between them, but Flückiger thinks that the storax dealt in at Cana was the liquid storax, destined for India and China; which would have had little use for an incense of less value than their own.

There was, however, a local use for storax in defending the frankincense gatherers from the “ serpents ” guarding the trees; see pp. 1312.

Hirth in his China and the Roman Orient quotes Chinese annals covering this period, which state that the Syrians {{dq|collect all kinds of fragrant substances, the juice of which they boil into su-ho—which he identifies with storax. Later annals, referring to the 6th century, are more complete. “ Storax is made by mixing and boiling the juice of various fragrant trees; it is not a natural product. It is further said that the inhabitants of Ta-ts’in (Syria) gather the storax (plant, or parts of it), squeeze the juice out, and thus make a balsam (hsiang-kao); they then sell its dregs to the traders of other countries; it thus goes through many hands before reaching China, and, when arriving here, is not very fragrant.”

These references indicate that the Chinese su-ho may not have been the product of one particular tree.

Glaser notes the name su-ho, which the Chinese annals further state to have been the name of the country producing the storax, and connect with the city Li-kan, supposed to be the same as Rekam or Petra, which was a point of shipment. He compares this with the usu-wood mentioned in several Assyrian inscriptions a tribute received from Arabia, and with a city called Usúu, placed by Delitzsch south of Akko on the sea—but Glaser thinks it may have been farther north, near Tyre.

28. Aloes, a bitter cathartic, being the dried juice exuded from Aloe Perryi, Baker, order Liliaceae. This was from very early times an important article of commerce, and was produced almost entirely in Socotra. Another variety, less in demand, was from Aloe hepatica, native in South Arabia, particularly in the Hadramaut valley, but also as far as northern Oman. The failure of the Periplus to mention Socotrine aloes is surprising, unless the product of the island was monopolized in Cana. This is quite possible, as the island was subject to the Hadramaut.

In modern times these and many other varieties are in use, both wild and cultivated, throughout the tropics. Bent (Southern Arabia, p. 381) found very little aloes collected in Socotra, but many fields enclosed by walls, where it had formerly been produced. He describes the ancient method still used to produce the gum; the thick leaves piled up until the juice exudes of their own weight, then allowed to dry in the sun for six weeks and finally packed in skins for shipment.

29. The Bay of Sachalites.—Until the Arabian coast was surveyed, there was an erroneous idea held by all the geographers, of deep indentation in the coast-line between Ras el Kelb (14° 0′ N., 48° 45′ E.) and Ras Hasik (17° 23′ N., 55° 10′ E.), midway between Ras Fartak, or Syagrus (14° 0′ N., 52° 55′ E.) bisected the supposed gulf. The error is very evident in Ptolemy's observations, which make Ras Fartak one of the most striking features of the coast, whereas its actual projection is unimportant, and its height less than that of the ranges farther east.

The name as applied in § 29 seems to apply to this whole strip of coast; in § 32 that part of it lying east of Ras Fartak is subdivided as the district of Omana; but in § 33 the name is resumed. This accords with the Arab geographers, whose Shehr extended beyond Dhofar.

The word Sachalites is Hellenized from the Arabic Sahil, "coast," the same word tht appears in East Africa as Sawahil, where the natives are called Swahili. This narrow strip of coast plain was different topographically and ethnologically from the Valley of Hadramaut.

The mediaeval form of the word was Sheher or Shehr, and the mediaeval port that replaced Cana was Es-shehr (the Escier of Marco Polo).

Ibn Khaldun (Kay's translation, p. 180) has the following account of this coast: "Ash-Shihr is, like Hijaz and Yaman, one of the kingdoms of the Arabian peninsula. It is separate from Hadramaut and Oman. There is no cultivation, neither are there palm-trees in the country. The wealth of the inhabitants consists of camels and goats. Their food is flesh, preparations of milk and small fish, with which they also feed their beasts. The country is also known as that of Mahra, and the camels called Mahriyah camels are reared in it. Ash-Shihr is sometimes conjoined with Oman, but it is contiguous to Hadramaut, and it has been described as constituting the shores of that country. It produces frankincense, and on the seashore the Shihrite ambergris is found. The Indian Ocean extends along the south and on the north Hadramaut, as if Shihr were the sea-shore of the latter. Both are under one king."

Hommel (in Hilprecht, op. cit. 700–1) argues for a derivation of this name from some word allied to the old Hebrew term for frankincense, shekheleth; which does not seem to have been in use on the south coast, while the evidence of the Arab writers is against him. (See also Glaser, Skizze, 178–9.) The Periplus in § 32 is against him, by using the adjective Sachalitic as qualifying "frankincense," which would be quite redundant.

Vaughn (Pharm. Journ. XII, 1853) speaks of the Shaharree luban from Arabia, as yielding higher prices than that produced in Africa; a term exactly corresponding to the "Sachalitic frankincense" of the Periplus.

29. Always fatal.—The reports of the unhealthy character of this coast, spread by the earliest traders, have been assumed to be their device to discourage competition. The fate of Niebuhr's party in Yemen, and the more recent tragic outcome of Bent's explorations, sufficiently confirm the dangers from malaria, dysentery and the scorching sun.

But aside from the question of physical health, the tapping of the frankincense tree was believed to be attended by special dangers, expressed in the faith of the people, and arising from the supposed divinity of the tree itself.

W. Robertson Smith (Religion of the Semites, p. 427) recounts this belief as follows:

"The religious value of incense was originally independent of animal sacrifice, for frankincense was the gum of a very holy species of tree, which was collected with religious precautions. Whether, therefore, the sacred odor was used in unguents or burned like an altar sacrifice, it appears to have owed its virtue, like the gum of the samora (acacia) tree, to the idea that it was the blood of an animate and divine plant."

And again (p. 133): "In Hadramaut it is still dangerous to touch the sensitive mimosa, because the spirit that resides in the plant will avenge the injury. The same idea appears in the story of Harb b. Omayya and Mirdas b. Abi Amir, historical persons who died a generation before Mohammed. When these two men set fire to an untrodden and tangled thicket, the demons of the place flew away with doleful cries in the shape of white serpents, and the intruders died soon afterwards. The jinn it was believed slew them because they had set fire to their dwelling-place. Here the spirits of the trees take serpent form when they leave their natural seats, and similarly in Moslem superstition the jinn of the ‘oshr and hamāta are serpents which frequent trees of these species. But primarily supernatural life and power reside in the trees themselves, which are conceived as animate and even as rational . . Or again the value of the gum of the acacia as an amulet is connected with the idea that it is a clot of menstruous blood, i. e., that the tree is a woman. And similarly the old Hebrew fables of trees that speak and act like human beings (Judg. IX, 8 ff., 2 Kings XIV, 9) have their original source in the savage personification of vegetable species."

The Romans and the Greeks, it is well known, believed that the souls of the dead were incarnate in the bodies of serpents and revisited the earth in that form; hence, as Frazer has shown (Golden Bough, 3rd ed. IV, 74), such practices as that described in the Bacchae of Euripides, when nursing mothers entered the Dionysiac revels clad in deer-skins and girded with serpents, which they suckled. Hence, also, the Roman custom of keeping serpents in every household, and the serpent-worship connected with their god Aesculapius, to whose shrines, as well as to those of Adonis in Syria, childless women repaired that they might be quickened by a dead saint, a jinn, o by the god himself, in serpent form. Such was the belief concerning the births of Alexander of Macedon and the Emperor Augustus.

Herodotus refers to this same belief in two passages (III, 107 and II, 75) which have been laughed at as travellers' yarns. "The Arabians gather frankincense," he says, "by burning styrax, which the Phoenicians import into Greece; for winged serpents, small in size and various in form, guard the trees that bear frankincense, a great number round each tree. These are the same serpents that invade Egypt. They are driven from the trees by nothing else but the smoke of the styrax." That is, the wrath of the incense-spirit was appeased by the perfume provided by the styrax-spirit. And every spring, he says, these winged serpents flew into Egypt through a narrow pass near Buto, where they were met by the ibis and defeated; hence the veneration for the ibis in Egypt. Here is evidently a belief that the tree-spirit hovered over its blood as the traders carried it to market, and that the danger that threatened the Egyptians was averted by the defensive power of their own sacred bird. The location of this Buto is disputed, but it was probably along some ancient desert trade-route such as that between Coptos and Berenice at the time of the Periplus. Buto was also the name of an Egyptian deity, borrowed from "God's Land" (Yemen).

Theophrastus has the same story of the tree guarded by serpents, but refers it to cinnamon (Hist. Plant., IX, 6).

According to Herodotus, all the fragrant gums of Arabia were similarly guarded, except myrrh; which may suggest that myrrh was from a more purely Joktanite district, less imbued with the animism of the earlier races of Arabia.

The same belief probably appears in the "fiery flying serpents" of Isaiah XXX, 60.

Medicinal waters were guarded by similar powers; a dragon sacred to Ares protected the sacred spring above Ismenian Apollo (Frazer, Pausanias, V, 43-5); while among the Arabs all medicinal waters were protected by jinns (W. Robertson Smith, op. cit., 168).

The faith of the Incense-Land presents many features in common with that of the Greeks. While Frazer is no doubt right in warning against indiscriminate assimilation of deities Greek, Egyptian and Semitic, there is certainly some truth in the words of Euripides' Bacchus (son of Jove and Semele, daughter of the Phoenician Cadmus) who came to Greece "having left the wealthy lands of the Lydians and Phrygians and the sun-parched plains of the Persians, and the Bactrian walls; and having come over the stormy land of the Medes, and the happy Arabia, and all Asia which lies along the coast of the Salt Sea, . . . there having established my mysteries"—and "every one of these foreign nations celebrates these orgies."

According to Herodotus (III, 8 and I, 131), the only deities of the Incense-Land were Dionysus and Urania, whom they called Orotal and Alilat; while the Semitic people of Meroe (II, 29) worshipped Zeus (Ammon) and Bacchus (Osiris) whom Glaser assimilates with the Katabanic gods ’Am and Uthirat (Punt und die Südarabischen Reiche, 43). Now the invocations of Dionysus in the mysteries were "Evoe, Sabai, Bacchi, Hues, Attes, Attes, Hues!" and according to Cicero (De natura deorum, I, iii, 23) one of the names of Bacchus was Sabazius; in whose mysteries at Alaexandria, we are told by Clement (Protrept., ii, 16) persons initiated had a serpent drawn through the bosoms of their robes, and the reptile was identified with the god (Frazer, Golden Bough, IV, 76). Here seems to be some basis, at least, for identification of the god of the Incense-Land to whom Pliny gives the name Sabis; whom Glaser (Punt, etc., p. 46) thinks identical with Shams, the Sabaean sun-god, and whose name appears also in the capital city, Sabota or Sabbatha (Shabwa).

There is a suggestive similarity in the legions concerning the crater of Bir Barhut in the Hadramaut, and Aetna, on the top of which an ancient Latin poem describes the people offering incense to the celestial dieties. Formerly, Frazer says, victims were sacrificed also, probably to appease the spirits who were supposed to dwell there.

The Abyssinian Chronicle, tracing the descent of the monarchs of that people who migrated from the Incense-Land, heads the list with "Arwê the Serpent" (Salt, op. cit., p. 460) and Ludolfus in his Commentaries (III, 284) refers to the "great dragon who lived at Axum," said to have been burst asunder by the prayers of nine Christian saints. (See also James Fergusson, Tree and Serpent Worship; Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride and De Defectu Oraculorum.)

30. Syagrus is unquestionably Ras Fartak, 15° 36′ N., 52° 12′ E., a bluff headland rising to a height of about 2500 feet, visible for many miles along the coast. This name, meaning "wild boar" in Greek, is probably a corruption of the Arabic tribe-name saukar, plural sawâkir, appearing also in Saukira Bay, and in the modern village of Saghar. This was an incense-gathering folk, whose name Pliny assimilates to the Greek for "holy"—sacrus, from sakr, the root-form of saukar. See Glaser, Skizze, 180.

Yet the modern name Fartak, according to Forster (op. cit., II, 171), has the same meaning, "Wild Boar's Snout," the mediaeval Arabic geographers having possibly followed Ptolemy.

30. Dioscorida, (nearer the Arabian coast than the African in point of population and language, if not in the location as our author asserts), continues its name in the modern Socotra (12° 30′ N., 54° 0′ E.). Both forms are corruptions of the Sanscrit Dvipa Sukhâdâra, meaning "Island abode of bliss." Agatharchides refers to it as "Island of the Blest," a stopping-place for the voyagers between India and Arabia. How ancient the Hindu name may be is unknown; the sense possibly antedates the language in which it is expressed. An Egyptian tale of the XIIIth Egyptian dynasty (18th century B. C.), recounted by Golénischef (Report of the Vth Congress of Orientalists, Berlin, 1881), speaks of it as "Island of the Genius," Pa-anch, the home of the King of the Incense-Land, and in the "Genius" may be recognized the jinn or spirit of the sacred tree. There is good cause for believing that this is also the "Isle of the Blest," the farthest point reached by the wandering hero of that Babylonian Odyssey, the narrative of Gilgamesh; which joins to the story of a search over the known world for the soul of a departed friend, found in the end by prayer offered to Nergal, god of the dead, the material record of an early migration around the shores of Arabia. The theory of this Cushite–Elamite migration, outlined by Glaser (Skizze, vol. II) is thus recounted by Hommel (Ancient Hebrew Tradition, p. 39):

"Egyptian records furnish us with an important piece of ethnological evidence. From the XIIth dynasty (2200 B. C.?) onwands a new race makes its appearance on the Egyptian horizon: the Kashi in Nubia. This name was originally applied to Elam (Babyl. kashu: cf. the Kissioi of Herodotus, the modern Khuzistan; cf. also Cutch and Kachh in India), and according to Hebrew translation, was afterwards given to various parts of central and southern Arabia; from this he argues that in very early times—prior to the 2d millennium B. C.—northeast Africa must have been colonized by the Elamites, who had to pass around Arabia on their way thither. This theory is supported by the fact that in the so-called Cushite languages of northeast Africa, such as the Galla, Somali, Beja, and other allied dialects, we find grammatical principles analogous to those of the early Egyptian and Semitic tongues combined with a totally dissimilar syntax presenting no analogy with that of the Semites or with any Negro tongue in Africa, but resembling closely the syntax of the Ural-altaic languages of Asia, to which . . . the Elamite language belongs. According to this view, the much-discussed Cushites (the Aethiopians of Homer and Herodotus) must originally have been Elamitic Kassites who were scattered over Arabia and found their way to Africa. It is interesting to note that the Bible calls Nimrod a son of Cush, and that the name Gilgamesh has an Elamitic termination. What the Nimrod epic tells us of his wanderings around Arabia must therefore be regarded as a legendary version of the historical migration of the Kassites from Elam into East Africa. Nimrod is merely a personification of the Elamitic race-element of which traces are still to be found both in Arabia and in Nubia."

And in the same book, pp. 35–6, Hommel thus describes the references in the epic, which in its present form he dates at about 2000 B. C.:

"In the 9th canto we are told how he set out for the land of Mâshu (central Arabia), the gate of which (the rocky pass formed by the cliffs of Aga and Salma), was guarded by legendary scorpion-men. (Hence perhaps the name "land of darkness" applied to Arabia in early Hebrew annals.) For 12 miles the hero had to make his way through dense darkness; at length he came to an enclosed space by the sea-shore where dwelt the virgin goddess Sabitu; who tells him that "no one since eternal days has ever crossed the sea, save Shamash, the hero.

" Difficult is the crossing, and extremely dangerous the way,
And closed are the Waters of Death which bolt its entrance;
How, then, Gilgamesh, wilt thou cross the sea?"

But Gilgamesh is directed to Arad-Ea, the sailor of Per-napishtim, who is in the forest felling a cedar. Him he asks to ferry him across to the "Isle of the Blest." After cutting 120 timbers 60 cubits long (surely not "oars," as the translation has it, but rather logs for an inflated raft) and smearing them with pitch,

" Then Gilgamesh and Arad-Ea embarked;
The ship tossed to and fro while they were on their way.
A journey of forty and five days they accomplished in three days,
And thus Arad-Ea arrived at the Waters of Death"—

which may have been Bab el Mandeb, and at the "Isle of the Blest" where dwelt Shamash-Napishtim, great-grandfather of Gilgamesh.

The island Pa-anch of the Egyptian tale is obviously the same as the incense-land Panchaia of Virgil (Georgics, I, 213), and the tale itself indicates that Socotra was an important center of international trade not far from the time of Abraham. Here the occasional navies of Egypt met the peoples of Arabia and Africa and the traders of India, from the Gulf of Cambay and perhaps in greater numbers from the active ports in that ruined sea of past ages, the Rann of Cutch (the Eirinon of § 40); a condition not changed at the time of the Periplus, when the inhabitants were a "mixture of Arabs and Indians and Greeks," not yet when Cosmas Indicopleustes visited the place, noting its conversion to Christianity, and observing that the Greek element was planted there by the Ptolemies. Marco Polo (III, 32) found still "a great deal of trade there, for many ships come from all quarters with goods to sell to the natives. A multitude of corsairs (called Bawarij, from Cutch and Gujarat) frequent the island; they come there and encamp and put up their plunder for sale; and this they do to good profit, for the Christians of that island purchase it knowing well that it is Saracen or Pagan gear."

The names Pa-anch and Panchaia Glaser would connect, as already notes with such others as Pano and Opone, the land of Punt and the Puni or Phoenicians, whose sacred bird was likewise connected with Panchaia. Pliny gives the story (X, 2):

"The Phoenix, that famous bird of Arabia . . . the size of an eagle, and has a brilliant golden plumage around the neck, while the rest of the body is of a purple color; except the tail, which is azure, with long feathers intermingled of a roseate hue; the throat is adorned with a crest, and the head with a tuft of feathers. . . . It is sacred to the sun. . . . When old it builds a nest of cinnamon and sprigs of incense, which it fills with perfumes, and then lays its body upon them to die. From its bones and marrow there spring a small worm, which changes into a little bird; the first thing it does is to perform the obsequies of its predecessor, and to carry the nest entire to the City of the Sun near Panchaia, and there deposit it upon the altar of that divinity. The revolution of the great year is completed with the life of this bird, and a new cycle comes round with the same characteristics as the former one, in the seasons and appearance of the stars."

Seyffarth has supposed this to refer to the passage of Mercury every 625 years, and Glaser connects the legend with the hawk-faced Egyptian god Horus (Khor). Compare Job XXIX, 18: "Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the Phoenix" (Khor or Khol). The bird came from an Arabian land, hence his name from the people thereof; just as the Greeks gave the same name phoinix to the date-palm, native in that land; which may be assumed to have been the southern shore of the Persian Gulf, whence convulsions of nature, climatic or political changes, drove its inhabitants in opposite directions, carrying their culture with them and duplicating Persian Gulf place-names continuously in the Mediterranean and Erythraean Seas.

(See the introduction Ueber die Völker und Sprachen Afrikas in Lepsius' Nubische Grammatik; Glaser, Punt und die Südarabischen Reich, and the reports of the Austrian South Arabian Expedition.)

30. Great lizards, of which the flesh is eaten.—These are probably Varanus niloticus, family Varanidae, order Lacertilia, native throughout the African region, and attaining a length of more than five feet. Another species, V. salvator, while somewhat larger, seems to be native only in India and farther east. The flesh of all the Varanidae, although offensive to the smell, is eaten by the natives, and considered equal to that of fowls. The name Varanus is from the Arabic Ouaran, lizard; which by a mistaken resemblance to the English "warn" has been rendered into a popular Latin name, Monitor. (Cambridge Natural History, VIII, 542–5.)

30. Tortoise.—It is uncertain what species are meant. The tortoise-shell of commerce is from Chelone imbricata, family Chelonidae, the so-called "hawks-bill" turtle, found in all tropical waters, but seldom reaching a length of more than thirty inches. This is a "true sea-tortoise," as our author puts it, but he goes on to describe a "mountain-tortoise, the largest and with the thickest shell," which may be Chelone mydas, the "green turtle" (also a sea-tortoise), but is more likely one of the gigantic land-tortoises (family Testudinidae) which appear in many of the islands of the Western Indian Ocean; of which most are now extinct, (Testudo grandidieri only recently in Madagascar), while others, like T. gigantea and T. daudini, are still found in less frequented islands. The "land-tortoise" and the "white-tortoise" may include several species of Cinyxis, Pyxis and Testudo.

(See Cambridge Natural History, VIII, 364–387.)

30. Cinnabar, that called Indian.—(Dragon's blood.) The confusion between dragon's blood (the exudation of a dracaena) and our cinnabar (red sulphide of mercury) is of long standing, but less absurd than it seems at first sight. The story is given in Pliny (XXXIII, 38, and VIII, 12). The word kinnabari, he says, is properly the name given to the thick matter which issues from the dragon when crushed beneath the weight of the dying elephant, mixed with the blood of either animal. The occasions were the continual combats which were believed to take place between the two. The dragon was said to have a passion for elephant's blood; he twined himself around the elephant's trunk, fixed his teeth behind the ear, and drained all the blood at a draught; when the elephant fell dead to the ground, in his fall crushing the now intoxicated dragon. Any thick red earth was thus attributed to such combats, and given the name kinnabari. Originally red ochre (peroxide of iron), was probably the principal earth so named. Later the Spanish quicksilver earth (red sulphide of mercury), was given the same name and preferred as a pigment to the iron. Later, again, the exudations of Dracaena cinnabari in Socotra and Dracaena schizantha in Somaliland and Hadramaut (order Dracaeneae), and Calamus draco in India (order Palmeae), were given the name kinnabari. Being of similar texture and appearance, the confusion is not surprising, as the Romans had no knowledge of chemistry.

Pliny noted errors made by physicians of his day, of prescribing the poisonous Spanish cinnabar instead of the Indian; and proposed a solution of the problem by calling the mercury earth minium, the ochre miltos, and the vegetable product kinnabari, but usage did not follow him. We now give the mercury earth the old Greek name for dragon's blood, and the dried juice we give the same name in English.

Wellsted (Travels in Arabia, 1838, II, 450–1) noted the two varieties of Dracaena, one of which had leaves the camels could eat, while the other was too bitter. Bent (Southern Arabia, 379, 381, 387) gives a good description of this peculiar tree, with its thick, twisted trunk and foliage resembling an umbrella turned inside out. He notes that very little is now exported from Socotra, the cultivated product from Sumatra and South America having superseded it. The method of gathering is the simplest possible, the dried juice deing knocked off the tree into bags, and the nicely-broken drops fetch the best price.

According to the Century Dictionary the word cinnabar is "of eastern origin: cf. Persian zinjarf, zinjafr, = Hindu shangarf, cinnabar."

The bit of folk-lore quoted by Pliny confirms the Indian connections of Socotra. Combats with a dragon or serpent for possession of a sacred place, or for the relief of a suffering people, appear in all the Mediterranean countries; such were related of Apollo at the oracle of Delphi, of Adonis in Syria (perpetuated in the modern faith in St. George in the same locality), to say nothing of Marduk and Tiamat in the Babylonian creation-story. But in all these legends, held by Semitic people or borrowed from them, the contender is a hero or a god; while in Socotra it is an elephant. Pliny offers a materialistic explanation, which is unconvincing because elephants are not found in Socotra or in the neighboring parts of Africa. It is evidently a local faith rather than a natural fact, and light may be thrown upon it by Bent's observation (Southern Arabia, 379) that dragon's blood is still called in Socotra "blood of two brothers."

In the Mediterranean world this gum was used medicinally and as a dye; in India it had also ceremonial uses. One must refer, not to the Buddhism of the Kushan dynasty, apparently dominant as far south as the modern Bombay at the time of the Periplus, but rather to the earlier faith Brahmanism overlaid upon nature-worship, then prevalent among the Dravidian races farther south. The members ot the Brahman triad were Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, the creator, presence, and destroyer; they were worshipped especially at a shrine on an island in Bombay harbor, called Elephanta (in constant connection commercially with the Gulf of Aden), and an elephant's head the visible emblem of the sacred syllable AUM, representing the triad, which was pronounced at the beginning and the end of any reading of the sacred books, and had many mystic properties. The elephant signified more particularly the first person of the triad, Brahma the creator, while the dragon or serpent, in the form of the cobra, represented Siva the destroyer; and these combats of Pliny, between an elephant and a dragon, the blood from which was called "blood of two brothers," seem to be a reflection of the perpetual conflict between the first and third persons of the Hindu triad.

It is notable that the Hindu name for Socotra appears likewise among the mysterious names of the seven manifestations of the power of AUM in their ritual: "Earth, Sky, Heaven, Middle Region, Place of Births, Abode of the Blest, Abode of Truth;" indicating that the island had its name from the Indian merchants who had "emigrated to carry on trade there (§ 30), especially in this legendary gum of the dracaena, and suggesting that the name is as old as the XIIIth dynasty tale and the Gilgamesh epic.

Another survival of Hindu influence seems to be the mateb or blue silk neck-cord, the badge of baptism in modern Abyssinian Christianity, which suggests, more than any Arab custom, the zennār or sacred cord of the Brahman priest.

(See the references in J. G. Frazer's Pausanias and Golden Bough; Porphyry, de Ant. Nymph., 268; Asiatic Researches, V, 348; Maurice, Indian Antiquities.)

30. Yields no fruit.—This must be understood as referring to agriculture; this island was particularly rich in natural products of commercial value. Aloes, dragon's blood and frankincense were all plentiful, also myrrh and other gums; but owing to the monopoly of the Chatramotitae these went to market at Cana. Bent found many evidences of this early trade, but no present exploitation; the walled aloe-fields deserted, the frankincense, myrrh and dragon's blood uncollected, and the energies of the people employed in the production of clarified butter. The island seemed full of cattle, and the Sultan kept a special dhow to carry the skins and jars of clarified butter to the mainland, where it was in demand as far as Muscat and Zanzibar. (Southern Arabia, p. 346).

31. Subject to the Frankincense Country.—By speech, race and political allegiance Socotra has been joined to the Mahra district of South Arabia from time immemorial. La Roque's map of 1716 showed it "depending upon the Kingdom of Fartach" (Hogarth, op. cit., p. 45); Wellsted, writing in 1838 (op. cit., 450–3) found it jealously mentioned as a dependency of the Sheikh of Kissin, "formerly called King of Furtak;" and Bent found the same. (See also the numerous reports of the Austrian Expedition.)

31. Garrisoned; for defence against the two enemies of the Chatramotitae, by whom they were hard pressed on either side: namely, the Homerites and the Parthians.

31. The Bay of Omana, being that portion of the Bay of Sachalites lying east of Syagrus, is the modern Kamar Bay. (16° 15’ N., 53° 30′ E.). The "mountains, high and rocky and steep, inhabited by cave-dwellers," are the modern Jebel Kamar and Jebel Gara, reaching altitudes of over 3,000 feet.

The name "Omana," the same as the modern Oman, seems to have extended at the time of the Periplus over a larger area, including much of the south shore of the Persian Gulf as well as the coast of South Arabia as far as Ras Hasik; all of which seems to have been subject to the Parthians, but recently—for Isidorus of Charax Spasini, writing in the time of Augustus, speaks of "Goaesus, King of the Omanitae in the Frankincense Country." The coast between Ras Hasik and Ras Fartak, likewise associated with the name Omana in the Periplus, had fallen to the Chatramotitae in the recent partition of the Incense-Land.

32. The harbor called Moscha.—This is identified with Khor Reiri (17° 2′ N., 54° 26′ E.), a protected inlet (now closed at low tide by a sand-bar); into which empties the Wadi Dirbat. It is a couple of miles east of the modern town of Taka, in the eastern part of the plain of Dhofar, a fertile strip of some 50 miles along the coast between Ras Risut and Ras Mirbat, surrounded by the Gara Mountains. Marco Polo describes it (III, xxxviii) as "a very good haven, so that there is a great traffic of shipping between this and India." It is, no doubt, the "harbor of the Abaseni" of Stephanus Byzantius. The ancient capital, Saphar (whence the modern name of Dhofar, confused by many mediaeval geographers with Saphar or Zafar, the capital of the Homerites in Yemen) lay probably in the western part of the plain, near the modern Hafa.

Saphar seems to mean no more than "capital" or "royal residence," so that the true name of the ancient city is unknown. Ptolemy calls it Abissa Polis, "City of the Habashat."

The Plain of Dhofar, and the mountains behind it and for some distance beyond on either side, are the original, and perhaps always the most important, Incense-Land of Arabia. We are fortunate in having a vivid description of the whole region, by J. Theodore Bent (Geographical Journal, VI, 109–134, with a map facing page 204; reprinted in his Southern Arabia) with careful corrections by Glaser (Die Abessinier in Arabien und Afrika, 182–192). The plain is alluvial soil washed down from the mountains, which are of limestone, cavernous, and high enough to attract the rains; so that instead of the sandstone and volcanic rocks elsewhere on the south coast, here is "one large oasis by the sea," abundantly watered the year round, and producing crops of all kinds. The encircling mountains are the source of many streams, gathering in lakes on the upper levels and falling to the plain through densely wooded valleys. "Limes, cactus, aloes, and mimosa form on all sides a delightful forest, and the mountains above the lakes are clad almost to the summit with timber. Such a scene we never expected to witness in Arabia; it reminded us more of the rich valleys leading up to the tableland of Abyssinia. . . Sweet-scented white jessamine hung in garlands from the trees, and the air was fragrant with the odor of many flowers. . . It is probable that a knowledge of such valleys as these gained for Arabia its ancient reputation for floral wealth." And following up the stream leading to the ancient harbor, which falls over a remarkable limestone cliff, Bent found a broad grassy plain used for grazing, and in the midst of a wooded lake, the center of the local faith of the Gara tribe; "they affirm that jinnies live in the water, and that whoever wets his feet here is sure to have fever. . . . Every November a fair is held here, to which all the Beduins of the Gara tribe come and make merry. The fair of Dirbat is considered by them the great festival of the year. A round rock was shown to us on which the chief magician sits to exorcise the jinni of the lake, and around him the people dance."

A short way up the mountain-side just back of Hafa, the modern town, is "a great cave hung with stalactites, below which are the ruins of an ancien ttown, in the center of which is a natural hole 100 feet deep and about 50 in diameter; around this hole are the remains of walls, and the columns of a large entrance gate." This, the natives told Bent, was the "well of the Adites," no doubt an ancient oracle, mentioned as such by Ptolemy, Ibn Batuta and others.

Near Hafa are the ruins of the ancient capital, "by the sea, around an acropolis some 100 feet in height, encircled by a moat still full of water; and in the center, still connected with the sea, but almost silted up, is a tiny harbor. The ground is covered with the remains of ancient temples, the architecture of which at once connects them with that of the columns at Adulis, Coloe and Axum—after seeing which no doubt can be entertained that the same people built them all."

In Hafa the Bents found "a bazaar with frankincense in piles ready for shipment, just as depicted in the Deir el Bahri temple," while a large tract of country was still "covered with frankincense trees, with their bright green leaves like ash trees, their small green flowers, and their insignificant fruit." (See later, p. 218.)

This plain, with its ancient capital, Saphar, was the center of the ancient Cushite empire (or Adite, from Ad, grandson of Ham) which included most of Southern Arabia and much of East Africa; having a civilization and religion similar to and derived from the Chaldaean. About 1800 B. C., according to the Arab historians, Joktanite tribes entered and conquered South Arabia, but were largely absorded by the Cushite stock; as a result of which the second, or Sabaean, empire of Ad was formed, in which the Joktanites became the sacred and land-owning caste, while the political and economic activities remained with the Cushites. This was probably the power that dealt with the Egyptians under the XVIIIth dynasty, as pictured at Deir-el-Bahri; concerning which the publication of the Egypt Exploration Fund seems a little too positive that the "Land of Punt" could not be in Arabia because the faces of the Punt people were not Semitic. The testimony of Arabia would be at fault if they were. Later the Sabaean Cushites, conquered by the Banu Ya‘rub, a Joktanite stock from Yemen, migrated into Africa, and establishing themselves in Abyssinia, continued the ancient conflict for six centuries more.

The account of Ibn Khaldun (Kay's edition, pp. 179–80) gives a hint of the northern origin of the "Adites." Hadramaut, Ash-Shihr and Oman, he says, "originally belonged to Ad, from whose people it was conquered by the Banu Ya‘rub, son of Kahtan (Joktan). It is said that the Banu Ad were led thither by Rukaym son of Aram, who had formerly visited the country in company with the Prophet Hud. He returned to the people of Ad and led them in ships to the country and to its invasion. They wrested it from the hands of its inhabitants, but they were themselves subsequently conquered by the Banu Ya‘rub, son of Kahtan. Kahtan ruled over the country, and it was governed by his son Hadramaut, after whom it was named."

Makrizi varies the legend by making Ad son of Kahtan, by whom he was made ruler over Babylonia, and his brother Hadramaut over "Habassia;" and he preserves a memory of the trade of the Incense-Land with India, in the tale of a hero of that land who came by night to the land of the Indians in the form of a vulture, whence he returned bearing seeds of the green pepper, as proof of his journey.

It is regrettable that Bent could not have learned more of the local faith of the Gara tribe, exemplified at the annual reunion at the Dirbat lakes, which is probably an interesting survival of the ancient faith. For as the Mahri represent the Himyarite conquerors of the incense coast-land, so do the Gara represent to some extent the earlier inhabitants. Bent found a state of armed truce under the restraining influence of Muscat; Haines, Carter, and Cruttenden had found the villages of the plain fighting among themselves, and the mountain folk fighting with the plain, the gatherers with the overlords, as of old. Bent tells enough, however, to indicate the worship of the spirit of the lake, the waters of which might not be polluted by the foot of man; the propitiation of the spirit by the "chief magician" at the time of gathering the frankincense, and the celebration of the harvest by a "tribal dance" probably reminiscent of bacchanalian rites; after which the product is sent to Bombay for distribution, that the rest of the world, in the words of Pausanias (IX, 30) may "worship God with other people's incense."

The name Moscha is another of those place-names that are repeated along the coast from east to west, and survives in the modern Muscat, with which Müller mistakenly identifies this port. According to Forster (op. cit., II, 174–5) this is an Arabic word meaning "inflated skin," from the Genaba "Fish-Eaters" or "floaters on skins." The word continues in the Greek moschos, calf. Glaser supposes the word to be the same as Mocha, and to signify a "commercial harbor," and to the author of the Periplus, and to Ptolemy, it is probable that Moscha limên meant "Incense Harbor;" moschos meaning also "musk," or in later Greek any perfume, even to that of strawberries; as indeed the same idea was uppermost with Camões (Lusiad, X, 201) and with Milton:—

—Now gentle gales,
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mozambic, off at sea northeast winds blow
Sabean odors from the spicy shore
Of Araby the Blest, with such delay
Well pleased they slack their course, and many a league
Cheered with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles:
Paradise Lost, IV, 156–165.

(See the works already cited of Bent, Wellsted, Glaser, Hommel, Zwemer, and Hogarth; Lenormant and Chevalier, Manual of Ancient History of the East, VII, 1–2; also J. B. Haines, in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society for 1839 and 1845; H. J. Carter, in Transactions of the Bombay Asiatic Society, for 1845, 1847, and 1851; Makrizi, De Valle Hadramaut, Bonn, 1866; Wellhausen, Skizzen und Vorarbeiten, III, 135–146.)

32. The ship could not clear.—Compare the trading of the Egyptian expeditions with the "chiefs of the land of Punt" over these "heaps of incense," and again Marco Polo's description (III, xxxvii): "A great deal of white incense grows in this country, and brings in a great revenue to the Prince; for no one dares sell it to any one else; and whilst he takes it from the people at 10 livres of gold for the hundredweight, he sells it to the merchants at 60 livres, so his profit is immense." And according to the Marásid-al-Ittila’, an Arab geographical dictionary of about the same period, "this incense is carefully watched, and can be taken only to Dhafár, where the Sultan keeps the best part for himself; the rest is made over to the people. But any one who should carry it elsewhere than to Dhafár would be put to death."

33. Seven Islands called Zenobian.—These are now called Kuria Muria, about 17° 20′ N., 56° E., and belong to England, which acquired them from the Sultan of Oman. In the time of the Periplus they belonged to their western neighbors, the Hadramaut.

The name Zenobian is Hellenized from the Arabic Zenâb or Genâb; the tribe of the Beni Genâb having possessed the neighboring coast. This same tribal name, in the form of Genabti, appears in numerous Egyptian inscriptions as one of the peoples of the "Land of Punt." (See Glaser, Punt und die Südarabischen Reich, p. 10.)

Concerning the relation of these islands to the early frankincense trade, a bit of folk-lore preserved by Marco Polo is particularly important. Pauthier in his French text rightly connects the story with the Kuria Muria group because of its geographical position; Yule and Cordier repudiate it as nonsense. Vincent in his edition of the Periplus (II, 347) refers to the "fable," without explanation, to these islands. Its actual source, so far as is known, has not been observed.

About half-way between Makran and Socotra, Marco Polo says (III, xxxi), are the two islands "called Male and Female, lying about 30 miles distant from one another. . . . In the island called Male dwell the men alone, without their wives or any other women. Every year when the month of March arrives the men all set out for the other island, and tarry there for three months, to wit, March, April, May, dwelling with their wives for that space. At the end of these three months they return to their own island, and pursue their husbandry and trade for the other nine months. . . . As for the children which their wives bear to them, if they be girls they abide with their mothers; but if they be boys the mothers bring them up till they are fourteen, and then send them to the fathers. Such is the custom of these two islands. The wives do nothing but nurse their children and gather such fruits as their island produces; for their husbands do furnish them with all necessaries." (Yule's Marco Polo, Cordier's edition, II, 404–6.)

This story is a reflection of the belief, already noted from Pliny, that the ceremonial value of the incense depended on the personal purity of the gatherers, who were considered sacred. No man touching the tree, whether a proprietor according to the caste system of the Incense-Land, or a farmer or gatherer, slave or free, might undergo pollution through the presence of women or of the dead. The spirit of the tree was a woman, and the protecting serpents were the souls of the dead. If gathered without pollution, the incense constituted the most effective form of prayer, and had also certain sovereign uses in purification after conjugal intercourse, availed of by both Arabians and Babylonians, as described by Herodotus (I, 198) and Strabo (XVI, i, 20).

Pliny's account of the Ascitae, swimming to the mainland on inflated skins, has been noted. Stephanus Byzantius, writing in the 4th century A. D., says "beyond the Sabaei and the Chatramotitae dwell the Abaseni, whose land yields myrrh, aloes, frankincense, cinnamon and the red plant which resembles the color of Tyrian purple (dragon's blood)." Pausanias in the 2d century (de situ Graeciae, VI, 269) mentions a "deep bay of the Erythraean Sea having islands, Abasa and Sacaea," which were the home of these same Ascitae. Bent (Southern Arabia, p. 230) describes the "Jenefa" tribe on these Kuria Muria islands, pursuing sharks on inflated skins, and Wellsted (op. cit., Chap. V) found the "Beni Geneba" spread all along the coasts of South Arabia and Oman, "shark-fishers swimming on inflated skins, and pastoral folk, living in skin tents, but under the S. W. monsoon retreating to caves," as noted in § 32. Lieut. Cruttenden (Trans. Bombay Geog. Soc., VII, 121; 1846) and General Miles (J. Geog. Soc., 1872) observe that the coast of South Arabia "is visited every season by parties of Somalis, who pay the Arabs for the privilege of collecting the frankincense."

Here is obviously the foundation for Marco Polo's tale. The wandering Beni Genâb, whose locality included the Kuria Muria islands and the coast north and east thereof, would act as fishermen and herdsmen during certain seasons, while during the remainder of the year they would engage in the more profitable occupation of incense gathering; in which they were subjected to the rigid rules maintained by the Sayyid or saintly caste of landed proprietors, themselves too dignified to do the work (Van den Berg, op. cit., 40–44). When the first rush of sap occurred in the spring they left their wives perforce, to gather the best of the white gum, remaining on the incense-terraces for later gatherings until the trees became dormant again, when their work for that year was over and they returned home. And their sons would naturally remain with their mothers only during childhood; past which they would be under the same tabu as the grown men, and would begin work as gatherers.

Far from being a fairy tale, it is quite possible that at the time Marco Polo wrote—the caste-system of the Hadramaut being fully crystalized under the rule of Islam—this story of the Christian dwellers on the "Male and Female Islands" was literally true, as it was in the earlier times in the race-conflict between the Joktanite overlords and Cushite gatherers.

The "Male Island" was, of course, the coast, and the Female included the entire group of islands; the Arabic dialects failing to distinguish between "coast" and "island."

33. Beyond Moscha.—The "mountain range along the shore" is the modern Jebel Samhan, and the name Asich is preserved in the modern Ras Hasik, 17° 23′ N., 55° 20′ E., as well as in the westernmost of the Kuria Muria Islands, which faces it.

33. Sarapis is the modern Masira Island, 20° 20′ N., 58° 40′ E., the first syllable only being from the native name, which our author assimilates to that of the Alexandrian Osiris of the bull-worship, Osor-Hapi, Sarapis, or in the Latin, Serapis. (Concerning this worship, in high favor at the time of the Periplus, see Strabo, book XVII, Plutarch, de Iside et Osiride, Maspero, Histoire Ancienne, pp. 30 ff., Frazer's Pausanias, II, 175–6.)

The syllable Sar-apis or Ma-sir-a is probably the same as the tribe-name Au-sar or Ausan mentioned in § 15.

This island is curiously confused by Pausanias (VI, 26) with the Seres. After describing the Chinese silk culture, he observes: "the island of Seria is known to be situated in a recess of the Red Sea. But I have also heard that the island is formed, not by the Red Sea, but by a river named the Ser (this being Masira Channel), just as the Delta of Egypt is surrounded by the Nile and not by a sea; such also, it is said, is the island of Seria. Both the Seres and the inhabitants of the neighboring islands of Abasa and Sacaea are of the Aethiopian race; some say, however, that they are not Aethiopians, but a mixture of Scythians and Indians."

Here are confirmations of the Periplus, as to the possession of Masira and Kuria Muria by the Habashat, and as to the commercial activity of the Indo-Scythians, then in possession of the Indus valley.

The use of the "Arabian language" (Himyaritic or Hadramitic, represented by the modern Mahri), noted in § 33, confirms the accompanying statement that the island was then subject to Hadramaut, and its trade controlled from Cana. Ordinarily the connection would be rather with the "Fish-Eaters" of the adjoining Genaba coast, subject at that time to the Parthians, so that the language spoken would have been Aethiopic or Geez.

34. A barbarous region which now belongs to Persia. The Arabian coast beyond the Kuria Muria Islands, being now recently conquered by the Parthian Empire, at war with Rome, was inaccessible to the author of the Periplus and is described by him briefly and apparently from hearsay. His own sailing-course carried him "well out at sea" from Kuria Muria to Masira, and thence direct to the mouth of the Indus.

34. Calaei Islands.—These are the Daimaniyat Islands N. W. of Muscat (23° 48′ N., 58° 0′ E.), the distance being calculated from Masira. The name is obviously the same as the modern Kalhat, just north of Sur (22° 35′ N., 59° 29′ E.) an ancient trading port, mentioned by Pliny (VI, 32) as Acila (not to be confused with Ocelis in Yemen), "a city of the Sabaei (Asabi) a nation of tent dwellers, with numerous islands. This is their mart, from which persons embark for India."

On this coast, between Ras el Had and Muscat, are the modern ports of Kuryat and Sur, which, in the words of General Miles (Journal of an Excursion in Oman, Geographical Journal, VII, 335–6 "are the Karteia and Tsor, the Carthage and Tyre, of the race whom we know as Phoenicians, and who, earlier than the time of Solomon, had trading-stations along the southern coast of Arabia. Their convenient and important position just opposite India must have led to their early occupation by the merchants of those times who were enaged in exchanging the productions of the East and West."

An eastern migration of this tribe-name is strongly suggested in Kalat, city and district, in eastern Beluchistan.

34. Very little civilized.—This follows Fabricius' reading of a doubtful passage in the text; that offered by Müller, "who do not see well in the daytime," while less probable, recalls the fact noted by numerous observers in Oman, that a good proportion of the inhabitants suffer from ophthalmia or total blindness, due, largely, to the terrific heat of this coast; which was picturesquely described by Abd-ar-Razzak, a 15th century Persian, as follows:

"The heat was so intense that it burned the marrow in the bones; the sword in its scabbard melted like wax, and the gems which adorned the handle of the dagger were reduced to coal. In thie plains the chase became a matter of perfect ease, for the desert was filled with roasted gazelles." (Quoted from Curzon: Persia and the Persian Question. See also Hakluyt Society's ed., XXII, 9.)

35. Calon mountain.—While the name has a Greek form, and was supposed to mean "fair," it is the same as that of the islands and is probably a tribal name: "mountain of the Kalhat."

The range is the Jebel Akhdar, or "Green Mountains," behind Muscat, and about 10,000 feet in altitude. Good descriptions are given by Wellsted, Zwemer, and Hogarth, and of especial interest is the account of the fertile and populous Wadi Tyin, enclosed by these mountains, visited by General S. B. Miles (op. cit.).

35. The pearl-mussel, Meleagrina margaritifera, Ham., family Aviculidae, is found in many parts of the Indian Ocean, but particularly on the southern shores of the Persian Gulf and in the shallow water between India and Ceylon. The pearl is a deposit formed around a foreign substance in the mantle of the mussel, generally a parasitic larva. Examination by Prof. Herdman at the Manaar fisheries indicated that the nucleus of the pearl was generally a Platyhelminthian parasite, which he identified as the larval condition of a cestode or tapeworm. This cestode passes from the body of the pearl mussel into that of a file-fish and thence into some larger animal, possibly the large Trygon or ray (Watt, The Commercial Products of India, pp. 557–8; Cambridge Natural History, III, 100, 449.)

35. Asabon mountains.—This is another tribal name, "mountains of the Asabi," or Beni Assab, whom Wellsted described as still living there (op. cit., I, 239–242), a people very different from the other tribes of Oman, living in exclusion in their mountains; and whom Zwemer (Oman and Eastern Arabia, in the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, 1907; pp. 597–606) considers a remnant of the aboriginal race of South Arabia, their speech being allied to the Mahri and both to the ancient Himyaritic; who were probably not as Zwemer thinks, "driven northward by Semitic migration," but represent rather a relic of that pre-Joktanite southward migration around this very coast.

The mountain preserves the name, being now the Jebel Sibi, 2800 feet, 26° 20′ N., 56° 25′ E., continued at the end of the cape in the promontory of Ras Musandum.

35. A round and high mountain called Semiramis. Fabricius, following Sprenger and Ritter, identifies this with Kôh-i-mubârak, "Mountain of the Blest" (25° 50′ N., 57° 19′ E.), which, while not high, being only about 600 feet, is of the shape here described and directly on the strait.

Fabricius (p. 146) suggests that the name Semiramis is probably from the Arabic Shamarîda "held precious." Ras Musandum has been a sacred spot to Arabian navigators from time immemorial. The classic geographers describe some of the practices of the ship-captains passing it, and Vincent tells of those in his time as follows (II, 354): "All the Arabian ships take their departure from it with some ceremonies of superstition, imploring a blessing on their voyage, and setting afloat a toy, like a vessel rigged and decorated, which, if it is dashed to pieces by the rocks, is to be accepted by the ocean as an offering for the escape of the vessel."

35. Apologus.—This was the city known as Obollah, which was an important port during Saracen times, and from which caravan-routes led in all directions. As "Ubulu, in the land of Bit-Yakin" it figures in many of the Babylonian and Assyrian inscriptions. It was among the conquered places named in the Nimrud Inscription of Tiglath-Pileser III (745–727 B. C.) whose arms were carried from Bit-Yakin "as far as the river Uknu (Cynos, Wadi ed Dawasir?) on the coast of the Lower Sea," and who received from Merodach-Baladan, of Yakin, king of the sea, a tribute of "gold—the dust of his land—precious stones, timber, striped clothing, spices of all kinds, cattle and sheep."

The location of Obollah seems always to have given it importance as a commercial center. Under the Seleucidae, and in the time of Strabo, Teredon was the leading port; while in the time of the Periplus Obollah had regained its former position.

The name seems derived from Obal, son of Joktan (Gen. X, 28).

35. Charax Spasini is the modern Mohammarah (30° 24′ N., 48° 18′ E.), on the Shatt-el-Arab, at its confluence with the Karun. Pliny says (VI, 31) that it was founded by Alexander the Great, whose name it bore; destroyed by the inundations of the rivers, rebuilt by Antiochus Epiphanes under the name Antiochia, again overflowed, and again restored, protected by three miles of embankments, by Spasinus, "king of the neighboring Arabians, whom Juba has incorrectly described as a satrap of King Antiochus." Formerly, Pliny says, it stood near the shore and had a harbor of its own; "but now stands a considerable distance from the sea. In no part of the world have alluvial desposits been formed by the rivers more rapidly and to a great extent than here." (At the present day it is about 40 miles from the gulf.)

Pliny's reference to the possession of the lower Tigris by an Arabian chieftain, the name of whose city he extends to the "Characene" district of Elymais, or Elam, indicates how large a part in the affairs of Parthian Empire may have been played, at the date of the Periplus, by its subjects south of the Persian Gulf. Charax was an important stronghold of Parthian Empire, protecting its shipping trade; and was the home of that Isidorus whose works, written in the time of the Roman Emperor Augustus, include the Mansiones Parthicae, a detailed account of the overland caravan-route from Antioch in Syria to the borders of India; the same, probably, as the author of the "description of the world" mentioned by Pliny (VI, 31) who was commissioned by Augustus "to gather all necessary information in the east, when his eldest son was about to set out for Armenia to take the command against the Parthians and Arabians."

36. A market-town of Persia called Ommana.—The Roman geographers were much confused by similar statements concerning this port, and supposed that it was geographically, instead of politically, "of Persia," and that the "six days' sail" from the straits of Hormus mentioned in the Periplus, was eastward along the coast of Makran. But Pliny this time is better informed, and locates it on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf, between the Peninsula of El Katar and Ras Musandum, then a Persian or Parthian dependency. Beyond the river Cynos (Wadi ed Dawâsir?) he says (VI, 32) "the navigation is impracticable on that side, according to Juba, on account of the rocks; and he has omitted all mention of the Batrasave, a town of the Omani, and of the city of Omana, which former writers have made out to be a famous port of Carmania; as also of Homna and Attana, towns which at the present day, our merchants say, are by far the most famous ones in the Persian Sea."

The spelling "Ommana," as distinct from "Omana," is due to Ptolemy, and, while perhaps incorrect for the Periplus, it conveniently distinguishes between the two districts. Both are certainly the same as the modern Oman, which maintains a nominal, as a century ago a real, dominion over the whole coast-land from the bay of El Katan to that of Kuria Muria. This was no doubt the dominion of that Goaesus mentioned by Isidorus of Charax Spasini, "King of the Omanitae in the Incense-Land," and had only recently come under the Parthian control. After numerous alternations between dependence and freedom the whole country submitted again to Persia in 1650, remaining under Persian control until 1741.

The exact location of the port of Ommana is uncertain owing to the limited knowledge yet at hand concerning this coast. Ptolemy confirms Pliny in locating it east of the peninsula, by a river Ommano, (possibly the Wadi Yabrin, an important trade-route) and Glaser argues strongly for the bay of El Katan. (Skizze, pp. 189–194.) Almost any location between Abu Thabi (24° 30′ N., 54° 21′ E.), and Khor ed Duan (24° 17′ N., 51° 27′ E.) might be possible, but the distance stated, six days, or 3000 stadia, from the straits indicates Abu Thanni or Sabakha, at both of which there are fertile spots on the coast; El Mukabber on the Sabakha coast (24° N., 51° 45′ E.) being perhaps more closely in accord with Ptolemy.

Aside from the obvious linking of Apologus and Ommana as Persian Gulf ports, in §§ 35 and 36, the text gives two further proofs. The "sewed boats" are such as are still made along this coast, and the wine mentioned in § 36 as an export to India is referred to in § 49 as an import at Barygaza from Arabia. The "many pearls" exported, and in fact the whole list of imports and exports in § 36, suggest such a trade as now centers on Bahrein.

Müller, Fabricius, and McCrindle locate Ommana in the bay of Chahbar on the Makran coast (25° 15′ N., 60° 30′ E.), reckoning the six days' sail eastward from the Straits of Hormus; and Sir Thomas Holdich followed them in his Notes on Ancient and Mediaeval Makran (Geographical Journal, 1896; VII, 393–6). It is notable that in his Gates of India, 1910, (pp. 299–300) he abandons this position and refers the activity of the Chahbar ports to the mediaeval period. General S. B. Miles (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, N. S., X, pp. 164–5) argues for Sohar, on the Batineh coast of Oman, north of Muscat, the ocean terminus of an ancient and important caravan-route; but the location does not tally with the statement in the text, that Ommana was six days through, or beyond, the Straits.

Ommana was the center of an active and extensive shipping trade with India, conveniently located with reference to the trans-Arabian caravan-routes; and Glaser points out the probability that this coast of El Katan was also the "land of Ophir" of King Solomon's trading voyages; a trading center where the products of the East were received and reshipped, or sent overland, to the Mediterranean.

36. Copper is here mentioned as an article of export from India to the Persian Gulf. It is no longer extensively produced in India, but was formerly smelted in considerable quantities in South India, Rajputana, and at various parts of the outer Himalaya, where a killas-like rock persists along the whole range and is known to be copper-bearing in Kullu, Garhwal, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan. See the authorities cited in Watt, Commercial Products of India, p. 401.

But it is possible that this copper imported at Ommana included also European copper, exported from Cana (§ 28) to the Indus mouth and Barygaza (§§ 39 and 49) and thence reshipped to the Persian Gulf. During the suspension of trade between the Roman and Parthian Empires, owing to war, this would have been a natural trade arrangement.

Pliny (VI, 26) speaks of copper, iron, arsenic, and red lead, as exports of Carmania, whence they were shipped to Persian Gulf and Red Sea ports for distribution; indicating again that Ommana was no Carmanian port.

36. Sandalwood.Santalum album, Linn., order Santalaceae. A small evergreen tree native in the dry regions of South India (as the Western Ghats, Mysore, and Coimbatore); in North India chiefly as a cultivated plant. Sandalwood has been known in India from the most ancient times, the Sanskrit authors distinguishing various woods according to color. Chandana is the name for the series, srikhanda the tree, or white, sandal, and pitachandana the inferior, or yellow, sandal, both being derived from Santalum album. They distinguish two kinds of red sandal or raktachandana, namely, Pterocarpus santalinus and Caesalpina sappan.

This mention in the Periplus seems to be the earliest Roman reference to sandalwood. It is mentioned by Cosmas Indicopleustes (6th century A. D.) under the name Tzandana; and thereafter frequently by the early Arab traders who visited India and China. Cosmas and the Arabs attributed it to China, this mistake arising, as Watt points out (op. cit., p. 976) from the fact that Chinese vessels at this time made the voyage between China and the Persian Gulf, stopping to trade in Ceylon and India, and disposing of their cargoes finally to the Bagdad merchants. The wood is not native of China.

According to experiments at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Calcutta, sandalwood is a root-parasite on many plants.

For further references see Lassen: Indische Alterthumskunde, I, 287.

36. Teakwood.Tectona grandis, Linn., order Verbenaceae. A large deciduous tree indigenous in both peninsulas of India. The wood is that chiefly exported from India at the present time, particularly from Burma, and is the most important building timber of the country.

Watt, (op. cit., p. 1068), quoting Gamble, says that the western Indian teak region has for its northern limit the Narbada and Mahanadi rivers, although it is occassionally found farther north. Climatic changes since the date of the Periplus have probably restricted its area. It is plentiful in Bombay and Travancore.

The wood owes its value to its great durability, ascribed to the fact that it contains a large quantity of fluid resinous matter, which fills up the pores and resists the action of water. Watt menions one structure known to be over 2000 years old, and the discovery of teak in the Mugheir ruins indicates its use there under Nabonidus (6th century B. C.), and possibly very much earlier.

36. Blackwood.—The text is sasamin, which Fabricius alters and translates "white mulberry," from conjecture only. McCrindle shows that the text refers to the wood still known in India as sisam, which Watt describes (op. cit., pp. 484–5) as one of the best hardwoods of the Panjab and Western India. It is very durable, does not warp or split, and is highly esteemed for all purposes where strength and elasticity are required—agricultural implements, carriage-frames and wheels, boat-building, etc.—as well as furniture and wood-carving. In Upper India the sisam takes the place of rosewood, to which it is closely related.

Watt distinguishes the true sisam or blackwood, Dalbergia sissoo, order Leguminosae. The Indian rosewood, native somewhat farther south, is Dalbergia latifolia. D. sissoo is described as sub-Himalayan, gregarious on the banks of sandy, stony, torrential rivers, such as the Indus and Narbada, from which the Periplus says it was exported.

36. Ebony.Diospyros, Linn., order Ebenaceae. Diospyros ebenum and D. melanoxylon are the leading varieties producing ebony wood; India has also D. embryopteris and D. tomentosa.

This fine black heart-wood (from the date plum tree) has been in favor since the dawn of civilization. An Egyptian inscription of King Mernere, VIth dynasty (B. C. about 2500), mentions ebony as a product brought down from the "negro-land" on the Upper Nile; and the expedition of Queen Hatshepsut (XVIIIth dynasty, B. C. about 1500) brought it from the "Land of Punt," in this case probably from the Abyssinian highlands, although it might have come from India.

The earliest definite Old Testament reference is in Ezekiel XXVII, where it appears as a commodity in the trade of Tyre: "the men of Dedan were they merchants; many isles were the merchandise of thine hand; they brought thee for a present horns of ivory and ebony." If the Oxford editor's identification of Dedan with the south shore of the Persian Gulf be correct, this passage indicates a steady trade in ebony from India prior to the 7th century B. C., and exactly confirms the statement of the Periplus that it was shipped from Barygaza to Ommana and Apologus.

Pliny (XII, 8, 9) says that ebony came to Rome from both India and Egypt, and that the trade began after the victories of Pompey the Great in Asia. He notes two kinds, one precious, the other ordinary. Virgil (Georgics II, 116–117) speaks in glowing terms of the ebony tree, as peculiar to India. Herodotus, however, has preferred to ascribe it (III, 97) to Aethiopia, and states that the people of that country were in the habit of paying to the King of Persia, every third year, by way of tribute, 100 billets of ebony-wood, together with a certain quantity of gold and ivory.

36. Sewed boats known as madarata.Glaser (Skizze, p. 190) shows this to be the Arabic muddarra'at, "fastened with palm fiber," which included, first, the fibers sheathing the base of the petioles of the date; and second, those taken from the husks of the cocoanut. This latter is what Marco Polo calls "Indian nut." It was a later cultivation in Arabia than the date, and the Periplus does not include it among Arabian exports, although noting it in § 33 as a product of Sarapis or Masira Island.

The text notes that these sewed boats were exported to "Arabia," meaning the South Coast, Yemen and Hadramaut.

Periplus 154 Madarata.png

Marco Polo (I, xix) gives a description of these craft, as follows:

"Their ships are wretched affairs, and many of them get lost; for they have no iron fastenings, and are only stitched together with twine made from the husk of the Indian nut. They beat this nut until it becomes like horse-hair, and from that they spin twine, and with this stitch the planks of the ships together. It keeps well and is not corroded by the sea-water, but it will not stand well in a storm. The ships are not pitched, but are rubbed with fish-oil. They have one mast, one sail, and one rudder, and have no deck, but only a cover spread over the cargo when loaded. This cover consists of hides, and on the top of these hides they put the horses which they take to India for sale. They have no iron to make nails of, and for this reason they use only wooden trenails in their shipbuilding, and then stitch the planks with twine as I have told you. Hence 'tis a perilous business to go a voyage in one of those ships, and many of them are lost, for in that Sea of India the storms are often terrible."

Gemelli Carreri, who visited this coast in 1693–9, gives a similar description, quoted by Capt. A. W. Stiffe: Former Trading Centers of the Persian Gulf: Geographical Journal, XIII, 294:

"Instead of nails, which they are without, they use pegs of bamboo or cane, and further join the planks with strings made of rushes. For anchor, they have a large stone with a hole, and for oards, a stout stick with a little round plank attached to the end."

"Stitched vessels," Sir B. Frere writes (Yule's Marco Polo, Cordier's Ed., I, 117), "are still used. I have seen them of 200 tons burden, but they are being driven out by iron-fastened vessels, as iron gets cheaper, except where (as on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts) the pliancy of a stitched boat is useful in a surf." But the stitched build in the Gulf is now confined to fishing-boats.

The fish-oil used to rub the ships was whale-oil. The old Arab voyagers of the 9th century describe the fishermen of Siraf in the Gulf as cutting up the whale-blubber and drawing the oil from it, which was mixed with other stuff, and used to rub the joints of ships' planking. (Reinaud, Relation des Voyages, I, 146.)

Friar Odoric (Journal, Chap. II), writing of "Ormes," says "here also they use a kind of barque or ship called Jase, being compact together only with cords. And I went on board into one of them, wherein I could not find any iron at all, and in the space of twenty-eight days I arrived at the city of Thana" (on Salsette Island, a short distance north of Bombay), "wherein four of our friars were martyred for the faith of Christ."

Jase, Cordier observes, is the Arabic Djehaz.

"Sir John Mandeville" gives a legend arising from this method of construction (Voyage and Travel, Chap. LIII, p. 125, Ashton's edition.) "Near that isle (Hormus) there are ships without nails of iron or bonds, on account of the rocks of adamants (loadstones), for they are all-abundant there in that sea that it is marvellous to speak of, and if a ship passed there that had iron bonds or iron nails it would perish, for the adamant, by its nature, draws iron to it, and so it would draw the ship that it should never depart from it."

Theodore Bent (Southern Arabia, p. 8) describes these boats as having "ery long-pointed bows, elegantly carved and decorated with shells. When the wind is contrary they are propelled by poles or paddles, consisting of boards of any shape, tied to the end of the poles with twine, and the oarsman always seats himself on the gunwales."

Zwemer, (op. cit., p. 101), further confirms the Periplus:

"Even Sinbad the Sailor might recognize every rope and the odd spoon-shaped oars. All the boats have good lines and are well built by the natives of Indian timber. For the rest, all is of Bahrein manufacture except their pulley-blocks, which come from Bombay. Sail-cloth is woven at Menamah and ropes are twined of date-fiber in rude ropewalks which have no machinery worth mentioning. Even the long soft iron nails are hammered out on the anvil one by one.

"Each boat has a sort of figurehead called the kubait, generally covered with the skin of a sheep or goat which was sacrificed when the boat was first launched. This blood-sacrifice Islam has never uprooted. The larger boats used in diving hold from twenty to forty men—less than half of whom are divers, while the others are rope-holders and oarsmen."

36. Pearls inferior to those of India.—This is said still to be the case, the Bahrein pearls being of a yellower tint than those of the Manaar fisheries, but holding their lustre better, particularly in tropical climates, and therefore always in demand in India.

36. Purple.—A dye derived from various species of Murex, family Muricidae, and Purpura, family Buccinidae. Pliny (IX, 60–63) tells of its use at the time of our author: "The purple has that exquisite juice which is so greatly sought after for the purpose of dyeing cloth. . . . This secretion consists of a tiny drop contained in a white vein, from which the precious liquid used for dyeing is distilled, being of the tint of a rose somewhat inclining to black. The rest of the body is entirely destitute of this juice. It is a great point to take the fish alive; for when it dies it spits out this juice. From the larger ones it is extracted after taking off the shell; but the smaller fish are crushed alive, together with the shells, upon which they eject this secretion.

"In Asia the best purple is that of Tyre, in Africa that of Meninx and Gaetulia, and in Europe that of Laconia. . . .

"After it is taken the vein is extracted and salt is added. They are left to steep for three days, and are then boiled in vessels of tin, by moderate heat; while thus boiling the liquor is skimmed from time to time. About the tenth day the whole contents of the cauldron are in a liquid state; but until the color satisfies the liquor is still kept on the boil. The tint that inclines to red is looked upon as inferior to that which is of a blackish hue.

"The wool that is left to lie in soak for five hours, and then, after carding it, it is thrown in again, until it has fully imbibed the color. The proper proportions for mixing are, for fifty pounds of wool, two hundred pounds of juice of the buccinum and one hundred and eleven of the juice of the pelagiae. From this combination is produced the admirable tint known as amethyst color. To produce the Tyrian hue the wool is soaked in the juice of the pelagiae while the mixture is in an uncooked and raw state; after which its tint is changed by being dipped in the juice of the buccinum It is considered of the best quality when it has exactly the color of clotted blood, and is of a blackish hue to the sight, but of a shining appearance when held up to the light; hence it is that we find Homer speaking of purple blood. (Iliad, E. 83; P, 360.)

"Cornelius Nepos, who died in the reign of the late emperor Augustus, has left the following remarks: 'In the days of my youth the violet purple was in favor, a pound of which used to sell at 100 denarii; and not long after the Tartentine red was all the fashion. This last was succeeded by the Tyrian dibapha (double dyed) which could not be bough for even 1000 denarii per pound. Nowadays who is there who does not have purple hangings and coverings to his banqueting couches, even?"

36. Wine.—This was probably date wine. Its destination, according to § 49, was India.

Sir B. Frere (Amoen. Exot., 750, quoted in Yule's Marco Polo, Cordier's edition, I, 115) says "a spirit is still distilled from dates. It is mentioned by Strabo and Dioscorides, according to Kämpfer, who says it was in his time made under the name of a medicinal stomachic; the rich added radix Chinae (rhubarb root), ambergris, and aromatic spices; the poor, licorice and Persian absinth."

This may, however, have included grape wine also, the mountain valleys of Oman having been the region originally producing the muscatel grape.

36. Dates.Phoenix dactylifera, Linn., order Palmeae. According to De Candolle (L'Origine des Plantes Cultivées, 240), it has existed from prehistoric times in the warm, dry zone which extends from Senegal to the Indus basin, principally between the parallels 15° and 20°. It was an important article of cultivation in Egypt, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and the Indus valley, for its wood, fiber, juice, and fruit.

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42. Another gulf.—This is the Gulf of Cambay.

42. Baeones is Piram Island opposite the mouth of the Narbada (21° 36′ N., 72° 21′ E.), as shown on the following map. Diu Island, the modern Portuguese possession, preferred by Vincent, does not conform to the sailing-course of the Periplus, as shown by Müller (I, 290).

Periplus 181 Gulf of Cambay.png

According to the Imperial Gazetteer, XX, 149–150, it is a reef of rock partly covered by brown sand, and is surrounded by rocky reefs rising to the surface from a depth of 60 to 70 feet. To avoid the tide-currents, chopping sea and sunken reefs, boats have still to follow the course toward the Narbada, as described in the Periplus.

42. The great river Mais is the modern Mahi, emptying into the head of the gulf, at the city of Cambay. (22° 18′ N., 72° 40′ E.)

42. The river Nammadus—Hindu, Narmada—is the modern Narbada or Nerbudda.

43. Hard to navigate.—The sketch-map on the preceding page, from Réclus, Asia, Vol. III, illustrates the difficulties.

Herone shoal is no doubt the long bar at the eastern side of the gulf, and Cammoni would be at the end of the promontory that lies to the N. W. of the mouth of the Tapti River, the entrance to the prosperous mediaeval port of Surat. This is, perhaps, the same as the Camanes of Ptolemy.

44. Trappaga and Cotymba.—The first word Lassen derives (II, 539) from trapâka, a type of fishing boat mentioned by other travellers to this region. The second suggests the modern kotia, a craft from these waters found by Burton in the Somaliland ports (First Footsteps, 408.

Periplus 182 Bombay Fishermen.png
Fishing-boats entering Bombay Harbor

44. Anchorages and basins.—The maintenance of this regular service of pilotage, under which incoming vessels were met at least 100 miles from Barygaza, indicates an active and regular commerce, such as our author describes. The use of "stations" in the river is still necessary here, and in other rivers such as those of Burma, where modern sailing traffic is more active.

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53. Damirica.—The text has Limyrikê, which previous editions have retained. That name does not appear in India, or in other Roman accounts of it, and it is clearly a corruption caused by the scribe's confusing the Greek D and L. The name appears in its correct form in the XIIth segment of the Peutinger Tables, almost contemporary with the Periplus, and in Ptolemy as Dimirikê; and there seems no good reason for perpetuating the mistake.

Damirica means the "country of the Tamils," that is, the Southern Dravidians as they existed in the first century, including particularly the Chēra, Pāndya and Chola kingdoms; known in their own records as the Drāvida-dēsam.

53. Muziris.—The location of this port was fixed by Burnell, Caldwell and Yule at Muyiri-kotta, which as Kodungalur or Cranganore (10° 14′ N., 76° 11′ E.), was an important port in mediaeval times. Their argument was based on the 7000 stadia named in the text as the distance between Barygaza and Damirica.

Vincent Smith (Early History 340–1) is confident that Muziris and Cranganore are the same. He says "The Kingdom of Satiyaputra must have adjoined Keralaputra; and since the Chandragiri river has always been regarded as the northern boundary of that province, the Satiyaputra Kingdom should probably be identified with that portion of the Konkans—or lowlands between the Western Ghāts and the sea—where the Tulu language is spoken, and of which Mangalore is the center. The name of Kerala is still well remembered and there is no doubt that the Kingdom so called was equivalent to the Southern Konkans or Malabar coast. The ancient capital was Vanji, also named Karuvūr, the Karoura of Ptolemy, situated close to Cranganore; which represents Muziris, the port for the pepper trade, mentioned by Pliny and the author of the Periplus at the end of the first century A. D." Vanji, according to the Imperial Gazetteer (XX, 21), must be placed at the modern Parūr or Paravūr (10° 10′ N., 76° 15′ E.), where the Periyār River empties into the Cochin back-waters. Parūr is still a busy trading center, as well as the headquarters of the district. While now in the district of Travancore, it formerly belonged to Cochin,—that is, to Chēra or Kerala. It is said to comprise almost all the Jews in Travancore; and the settlement may date from the end of the first century, when it is known that there was a considerable Jewish migration to Southern India.

The earlier identification of Muziris and Nelcynda placed them at Mangalore and Nīleshwar (12° 52′ N., 74° 51′ E., and 12° 16′  

Periplus 206 Peutinger Table.png
Portion of the Peutinger Tables, from Justus Perthes, Atlas Antiquus.

N., 75° 8′ E.). This conflicts with nearly all that we know of the geography and politics of the Tamil kingdoms, and is entirely impossible for Nelcynda. This port, according to the Periplus, belonged to the Pāndyan kingdom, which certainly never extended so far north.

Periplus 207 Cochin.png
The Cochin Backwaters: from Réclus, Asia, Vol. III.

The text tells us that Muziris was distant from Tyndis, "by river and sea, 500 stadia," and Nelcynda from Muziris, "by river and sea, 500 stadia." This can hardly refer to anything but the Cochin backwaters.

53. Nelcynda.—This port is called the city of the Neacyndi, by Pliny; Melkynda by Ptolemy; Nincylda by the Peutinger Tables, Cyncilim by Friar Odoric, and Nilcinna by the Geographer of Ravenna. It was probably in the backwaters, or thoroughfares, behind Cochin (9° 58′ N., 76° 14′ E.), the exact location being uncertain because of the frequent shifting of river-beds, sand-bars and islands; but certainly very near the modern Kottayam (9° 36′ N., 76° 31′ E.), which is exactly 500 stadia, or 50 miles, from Cranganore. Kottayam, according to the Imperial Gazetteer (XVI, 7), is a center of the Syrian Christian community, whose church here is one of the most ancient on the west coast. It is also the natural terminus for the trade-routes from the Pirmed hills, and is still a trade-center of considerable importance.

The name Nelcynda, Fabricius thinks (p. 160), is the Sanscrit Nīlakantha, ”blue neck," a name of Siva. Caldwell, however, prefers Melkynda, which he translates "Western Kingdom."

A good account of the topography of the coasts of India is given by J. A. Bains (Mill's International Geography, 1907 ed., p. 469). "The coast-line is singularly devoid of indentations, except at the mouths of the larger rivers and towards the northern portion of the west coast. The only harbors except for light-draft vessels, are found a little way up the deltas of the chief rivers, or where, as at Bombay, a group of islands affords adequate shelter from the open sea. The eastern coast, in particular, is provided with little more than a few imperfectly protected roadsteads. The southern portion of the west coast is distinguished by a series of back-waters, or lagoons, parallel with the coast, and affording a safe and convenient waterway for small vessels when the season of high winds makes the ocean unnavigable."

54. Cerobothra.—This is a transliteration of Chēraputra or Keralaputra, the western Tamil kingdom, which in its greatest extension reached from Cape Comorin to Kārwār Point, nearly 7 degrees of latitude. At the time of the Periplus the northern part had separated, while the southern end had passed to its neighbor, the Pāndyan kingdom; leaving Kerala nearly coterminous with modern Malabar and Cochin districts. The capital was at Karūr, or Parūr, opposite Muziris or Cranganore.

Chēraputra is "son of Chēra," one of the legendary three brothers who founded the Dravidian power in South India.

Pliny's use of the word as the name of a king was incorrect; it applies to the country, and is also a dynastic name or royal title.

The Chēra backwaters seem to be referred to by Pliny in a debated passage on the trade of Ceylon with the "Seres" (VI, 22): "their accounts agreed with the reports of our own merchants, who tell us that the wares which they deposit near those brought for sale by the Seres, on the further bank of a river in their country, are removed by them if they are satisfied with the exchange."

Here Seres must be read as meaning Chēra, the Ch and S being interchanged, just as the neighboring Chola kingdom is always Soli in Sinhalese records.

It is quite possible that Chēra is also meant by Pliny's Seres of XXXIV, 41, who sent the best iron to Rome; this being a product of Haidarābād, and referred to in § 6 of the Periplus, as shipped from India to Adulis. See also under Sarapis, p. 146.

The "silent trade," noted by Fa-Hien in Ceylon itself, is referred to under § 65, and again by Pliny (VI, 20), Pausanias (III, xii, 3), and Cosmas Indicopleustes (book II).

For further references to Chēra and other Tamil states growing out of the original establishment at Korkai, see Vincent Smith, Early History, Chap. xvi;—Caldwell, Grammar of the Dravidian Languages, introduction; also History of Tinnevelly;—Burnell, South Indian Palaeography;—Shanguni Menon, History of Travancore;—Francis Day, The Land of the Permauls;—J. B. Pandian, Indian Village Folk;—Sir Walter Elliott, Coins of Southern India;—Foulkes, The Civilization of the Dakhan down to the 6th century B. C., in Indian Antiquary, 1879, pp. 1–10;—K. P. Padmanabha Menon, Notes on Malabar and its place-names, in Indian Antiquary, Aug., 1902;—Wilson, The Pāndyas in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, iii, 199;—Dawson, The Chēras, in J. R. A. S., viii, 1;—Sewell, Lists of Inscriptions, and Sketch of the Dynasties of Southern India, in the Archaeological Survey, Madras, 1884;—F. Kielhorn, Dates of Chola and Pāndya Kings, in Epigraphia Indica, Vols. IV–VIII, inclusive;—Imperial Gazetteer, Vol. II, Chaps. i, iii, iv, v, ix;—Bühler, Indische Palaeographie, and, generally, his Grundriss der Indo-Arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde;—Fleet, The Dynasties of the Kanarese Districts, and Bhandarkar, Early History of the Dekkan, in Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, I, ii;—Loventhal, Coins of Tinnevelly;—Hultzsch, Southern Indian Inscriptions.

54. Abounds in ships.—In these protected thoroughfares flourished a sea-trade, largely in native Dravidian craft, which was of early creationand of great influence in the interchange of ideas as well as commodities, not only in South India, but in the Persian Gulf,  

Periplus 210 Merchant Ship.png
Merchant-ship of the 2d century, from a relief on a sarcophagus in the Lateran Museum.

and the coasts of Arabia and Africa, with which the trade was principally maintained. Both Buddhist and Brahman writings testify to its existence in the 5th century B. C.; but their evidence is late, as they are the product of the Northern Aryans, an inland race, who appeared in South India after its activities had been widely developed. Better evidence is given by the Dravidian alphabet, supposed to be from a Semitic (Himyaritic, or Phoenician) original, and to date from about 1000 B. C., whereas the Aryan, or Kharosthī, alphabet was formulated after the conquest, about 500 B. C. (R. Sewell, Hindu Period of Southern India, in Imp. Gaz., II, 322.)

"Sent from Arabia and by the Greeks" were the ships found by our author in the Chēra backwaters. The text has Ariaca, but the error is obvious, as the articles of trade were from foreign, and not Hindu, sources. "No Aryan language had penetrated into these kingdoms, which lived their own life, completely secluded from Northern India, and in touch with the outer world only through the medium of maritime commerce, which had been conducted with safety from very early times. The pearls of the Gulf of Manār, the beryls of Coimbatore, and the pepper of Malabar were not to be had elsewhere, and were largely sought by foreign merchants, as early as the 7th or 8th century B. C." (Vincent Smith, Early History, 334.) Benjamin of Tudela, in the 12th century, gives the following account of trade on this coast:

"Thence is seven days' journey to Khulam (Quilon) which is the beginning of the country of the Sun-worshippers. These are the sons of Cush, who read the stars and are all black in color. They are honest in commerce. When merchants come to them from distant lands and enter the harbour, three of the King's secretaries go down to them and record their names and then bring them before the King, whereupon the King makes himself responsible even for their property which they leave in the open unprotected. There is an official who sits in his office, and the owner of any lost property has only to describe it to him when he hands it back. This custom prevails in all that country. From Passover to New Year, that is all during the summer, no man can go out of his house because of the sun, for the heat in that country is intense, and from the third hour of the day onward, everybody remains in his house until evening. Then they go forth and kindle lights in all the market places and all the streets, and then do their work and business at night-time. For they have to turn night into day in consequence of the great heat of the sun. Pepper is found there. They plant the trees thereof in the fields, and each man of the city knows his own plantation. The trees are small and the pepper is as white as snow. And when they have collected it they place it in sauce-pans and pour boiling water over it, so that it may become strong. Then they take it out of the water and dry it in the sun, and it turns black. Cinnamon and ginger and many other kinds of spices are found in this land."

54. Pandian kingdom.—This was Pāndya, the southernmost, and traditionally the earliest, of the three Tamil states. Roughly it coincided with the modern districts of Tinnevelly and Madurā; at the time of the Periplus it extended beyond the Ghāts and included Travancore. The capital, originally at Korkai (the Colchi of § 59, which see) had been removed to Madurā (9° 55′ N., 78° 7′ E.).

Here too, as in the Chēra Kingdom, the name is used for the country and as a dynastic title, not as the name of any king.

55. Bacarē.—(Ptolemy gives Barkarē; which is perhaps the preferable reading.) This place, distant 120 stadia from Nelcynda, at an inlet of the sea, can be no other than Porakād (9° 22′ N., 76° 22′ E.), for which it is a close transliteration; while the distance from Kottayam is exactly in accord with the text.

Porakād was once a notable port, but declined with the rise of Alleppey, built a few miles further north after a canal had been cut through from sea to backwater and harbor works constructed. (Imp. Gaz., XX, 188.) The Portuguese, and subsequently the Dutch, had settlements at Porakād. It is mentioned by Varthema (1503) as Porcai, and by Tavernier (1648) as Porca. The remains of a Portuguese fort and factory are now covered by the sea, being visible at low water. (Ball, in his edition of Tavernier, I, 241.)

Here also is the mouth of the Achenkoil river, which rises in the Ghāts near the Shencottah pass, the main highway between Travancore and Tinnevelly.

According to Menon (Notes on Malabar and its place-names), the settlements were nearly all east of the backwaters at the Christian era, and the present beaches existed only as tide-breaks. During the middle ages there was a period of elevation, which led to the formation of new islands, while floods from the mountains changed the courses of the rivers, and the location of the inlets. At present the tendency is toward subsidence, houses built at Cochin a century ago being now under water. About 800 B. C., according to local tradition, the sea reached the hills.

Megasthenes, in the 4th century B. C., mentioned as "on the sea-coast" the town of Tropina (Tripontari) now on the mainland side of the backwaters; Ptolemy's three shore towns between Muziris and Barkarē are likewise on the land side.

Periplus 212 Indian Boat.png

56. Large ships.—The increase in the size of shipping following the discovery of Hippalus is referred to also in § 10. Pliny speaks of of the same thing in describing the trade between Malabar and Ceylon. "The navigation," he says (VI, 24), "was formerly confined to vessels made of rushes, rigged in the manner familiar on the Nile. The vessels of recent times are built with prows at either end so that there may be no need of turning around while sailing in these channels, which are extremely narrow. The tonnage of the vessels is 3,000 amphorae." (About 33 tons.)

By "double prows" Pliny probably means such build and rig as shown in the accompanying illustration, which is typical of the Indian Ocean generally. Mast and sail can be reversed at will, so that the craft can be sailed in either direction.

56. Pepper, black and white.—Piper nigrum, Linn., order Piperaceae. A perennial climber, wild in the forests of Travancore and Malabar, and extensively cultivated from very early times, in the hot, damp localities of southern India.

Lassen (I, 278), notes that the Greek word peperi, Latin piper, simply repeats the Indian name pippali.

The antiquity of the trade in pepper is not so easily shown as that in other spices. There is no certain mention of it in the Egyptian inscriptions. In the Hebrew scriptures it is unknown, nor has it a place among the "mint and anise and cummin" of the Gospels. Herodotus has no bit of folklore to attach to it. Theophrastus, indeed, in the 4th century B. C., knows it as a medicine, and Dioscorides distinguishes between black, white, and long pepper. The Sanscrit writers describe it as a medicine for fever and dyspepsia, used together with ginger and long pepper; these were their "three pungent substances." (Mahāvagga, VI, 19, 1; see also I-tsing, Record of Buddhist Practices [7th century A. D.], chap. xxviii; Takakusu's edition, p. 135.) The Romans had it after their conquests in Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, and at once provided the greatest market for it. Egypt knew it, probably, through the sea-trade of the Ptolemies; Syria through the caravan-trade to Tyre from the Persian Gulf. There is some reason for supposing that pepper was the sprice more especially in demand in Babylonia and the Persian Gulf trade generally, just as cinnamon was the more especially reserved for Egypt; and that the most active demand for it came with the extension of the Persian empire under Darius. The trade was by sea and not overland; Herodotus knows the Dravidians (III, 100) only as having "a complexion closely resembling the Aethiopians," and as being "situated very far from the Persians, toward the south, and never subject to Darius." It may also be surmised that a steady demand for pepper existed in China before it arose in Rome, and that this was one reason for the sailing of the junks to the Malabar coast in the 2d century B. C. and probably earlier. In Marco Polo's day the tonnage of the junks was calculated according to their capacity in baskets of pepper; and he found (II, lxxxii) "for one shipload of pepper that goes to Alexandria or elsewhere, destined for Christendom, there come a hundred such, aye and more too, to this haven of Zayton" (Chwan-chau, above Amoy).

The trade in pepper in the time of the Roman Empire brought the merchants unheard-of profits just as it did later the Genoese and Venetians. It was one of the most important articles of commerce between India and Rome, supplying perhaps three-quarters of the total bulk of the average westbound cargo.

The constant use of pepper in the most expensive Roman cookery is reflected in its price, quoted by Pliny (XII, 14) as 15 denarii, or about $2.55 per lb.

Among the offerings by the emperor Constantine to the church under St. Silvester, were costly vessels and fragrant gums and spices, including frankincense, nard, balsam, storax, myrrh, cinnamon, saffron and pepper.

That it continued in high esteem is shown by the terms offered by Alaric for raising the siege of Rome: "the immediate payment of 5,000 lbs. of gold, of 30,000 lbs. of silver, of 4,000 robes of silk, of 3,000 pcs. of fine scarlet cloth, and of 3,000 lbs. weight of pepper." (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, III, 271–2.)

Pliny, indeed, expresses surprise at the taste that brought it into so great favor (XII, 14): "It is quite surprising that the use of pepper has come so much into fashion, seeing that in other substances which we use, it is sometimes their sweetness, and sometimes their appearance that has attracted our notice; whereas, pepper has nothing in it that can plead as a recommendation to either fruit or berry, its only desirable quality being a certain pungency; and yet it is for this that we import it all the way from India! Who was the first to make trial of it as an article of food? And who, I wonder, was the man that was not content to prepare himself by hunger only for the satisfying of a greedy appetite?"

In mediaeval Europe the trade was highly organized, the spice being handled especially by merchants called "pepperers;" and the prices quoted in Rogers' History of Agriculture and Prices in England show that in the years just prior to the Portuguese discovery of the Cape route, a pound of pepper brought two shillings, being four days' pay for a carpenter! Yet the people preferred it above all other spices; it was the first thing asked for by "Glutton" in Piers Plowman (V, 310–13):

" I haue gode ale, gossib," quod she "glotown, wiltow assaye?"
" Hastow aughte in thi purs any hote spices?"
" I haue peper and piones," quod she "and a pounde of garlike,
A ferthyngworth of fenel-seed for fastyngdayes."

Friar Odoric (Chap. iii) describes the pepper production of "Minibar" as follows: "the wood in which it grows containeth in circuit eighteen days' journey. And in the said wood or forest there are two cities, one called Flandrina, and the other Cyncilim" (probably Nelcynda). "In the aforesaid wood pepper is had after this manner: first it groweth in leaves like unto pot-herbs, which they plant near unto great trees as we do our vines, and they bring forth pepper in clusters, as our vines do yield grapes, but being ripe, they are of a green color, and are gathered as we gather grapes, and then the grains are laid in the sun to be dried, and being dried are put into earthen vessels; and thus is pepper made and kept. . . At the south end of the said forests stands the city of Polumbrum, which aboundeth with merchandise of all kinds." (The proper form would be Polumbum, the Latinized version of Polum or Kolum, the modern Quilon. P and K are interchanged here as in the case of Karūr, the modern Parūr.)

Tavernier found pepper sold principally at Tuticorin and Calicut. Some, however, came from Rājāpur on the Ratnāgiri coast. "The Dutch," he says (II, xii. Ball's ed.), "who purchase it from the Malabaris do not pay in cash for it, but exchange for it many kinds of merchandise, as cotton, opium, vermilion, and quicksilver, and it is this pepper which is exported to Europe. . . . 500 livres of it brings only 38 reals, but on the merchandise which they give in exchange they gain 100 per cent. One can get it for the equivalent in money of 28 or 30 reals cash, but to purchase it in that way would be much more costly than the Dutch method."

He mentions also (I, xvi) a large storehouse kept by the Portuguese at Cochin, called the "Pepper House."

See also Watt, 896–901;—Flükiger and Hanbury, Pharmacographia, p. 579;—Encyclopaedia Britannica, article "Pepper;"—Brandis, Indian Trees;—Vignoli, Liber Pontificalis, Rome, 1724–55.

Odoric also describes a propitiation of the serpents guarding the pepper, similar to those of the frankincense and diamond; the story is better in the version of "Sir John Mandeville" (Chap. xviii): "In that country be many manner of serpents and of other vermin for the great heat of the country and the pepper. And some men say, Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/226 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/227 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/228 To the possible objection that the Darror and Nogal valleys, in the southern part of the Somali peninsula, are fertile and might produce better foliage than the northern coast, it may be said that the fertility stops far short of the east coast, which is absolutely desert; whereas the reliefs show a rich and fertile plain bordering the ea.

56. A great quantity of coin.—The drain of specie from Rome to the East has already been referred to under § 49, and is bitterly condemned by Pliny. "The subject," he says (VI, 26), "is one well worthy of our notice, seeing that in no year does India drain us of less than 550,000,000 sesterces ($22,000,000) giving back her own wares, which are sold among us at fully 100 times their first cost."

A generation before the Periplus, in 22 A. D., this was made the subject of a letter from the emperor Tiberius to the Roman Senate:

"If a reform is in truth intended, where must it begin? and how am I to restore the simplicity of ancient times? . . . How shall we reform the taste for dress? . . . How are we to deal with the peculiar articles of feminine vanity, and in particular with that rage for jewels and precious trinkets, which drains the empire of its wealth, and sends, in exchange for baubles, the money of the Commonwealth to foreign nations, and even to the enemies of Rome?" (Tacitus, Annals, iii, 53.)

This extravagant importation of luxuries from the East without adequate production of commodities to offer in exchange, was the main cause of the successive depreciation and degredation of the Roman currency, leading finally to its total repudiation. The monetary standard of Rome was established by accumulations of precious metal resulting from its wars. The sack of the rich city of Tarentum in 272 B. C., enabled Rome to change her coinage from copper to silver. After the destruction of Carthage and Corinth in 146 B. C., gold coinage came into general use, and through the wars of Caesar gold became so plentiful that in 47 B. C. its ration to silver was as 1 to 8.9, lower than ever before or since. Under Augustus the ratio was about 1 to 9.3, the aureus being woth 25 silver denarii. Under Claudius the sea-route to India was opened, after which came the reign of Nero, marked by every form of wastefulness and extravagance, during which the silver denarius fell from 1-84 to 1-96 pound of silver, an alloy of 20 per cent copper being added to it. Under Trajan the alloy reached 30 per cent, and under Septimius Severus 50 per cent. Finally, under Elagabalus, 218 A. D., the denarius had become wholly copper and was repudiated. Even the golden aureus was tampered with. Exported in large quantities to become the basis of exchange in India, the supply at home was exhausted. Under Augustus the aureus weighed 1-40 of a pound of gold, and under Diocletian it weighed but 1-60. Under Constantine it fell to 1-72, when the coin was taken only by weight (Sabatier, Monnaies Byzantines, i, 51–2; Brooks Adams, Law of Civilization and Decay, 25–8). It was this steady loss of capital, to replace which no new wealth was produced, that led finally to the abandonment of Rome and to the transfer of the capital at the end of the 3d century to Nicomedia and soon afterward to Byzantium.

Periplus 220 Nero As.png
Coin of Nero commemorating the opening of the harbor-works at Ostia.

In the Madras Government Museum there is nearly a complete series of the coins of the Roman Emperors during the period of active trade with India, all of them excavated in southern India. A notable fact is that there are two distinct breaks in the series; which may of course be supplied by later discovery, but which seem to indicate a cession of trade due to political turmoil in Rome. The coins of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero are numerous. There are very few of Vespasian and Titus anywhere in India. Those of Domitian, Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian are frequent; then there comes another break lasting until the time of Commodus. This indication, so far as it has any value, points again to the dating of the Periplus during the reign of Nero rather than during those of Vespasian and Titus.

For a full account of Roman coins discovered in South India, see E. Thurston, Catalogue No. 2, Madras Government Museum, pp. 1–47.

56. Crude glass.—The origin of the glass industry in India is uncertain. According to Mitra, Antiquities of Orissa, I, 101, it was made in Ceylon in the 3d century B. C., and Pliny (XXXVI, 66) refers to the glass of India as superior to all others, because "made of pounded crystal." Mirrors, with a foil of lead and tin, were largely used there at the time of the Periplus, and Pliny indicates (XXXVII, 20) that "the people of India, by coloring crystal, have found a method of imitating various precious stones, beryls in particular." An early play, the Mrichchhakatikā or Little Clay Cart, gives a scene in a court of justice to this effect (Mitra, op. cit., 100; see also A. W. Ryder's translation, Cambridge, 1905):

"Do you know these ornaments?"

"Have I not said? They may be different, though like; I cannot say more; they may be imitations by some skillful artist."

"It is true; provost, examine them; they may be different, though like; the dexterity of the artists is no doubt very great, and they readily fabricate imitations of ornaments they have once seen, in such a manner that the difference shall scarcely be discernible."

56. Copper, tin, and lead.—As at Barygaza, intended chiefly for the coinage. So Pliny (XXXIV, 17): "India has neither brass nor lead, but exchanges precious stones and pearls for them." The Indian coins were of lead, slightly alloyed with either copper or tin. (Sir Walter Elliot, Coins of Southern India, p. 22.)

Lead was used also, mixed with a little tin in thin sheets, as a foil for the manufacture of mirrors. (Mitra, op. cit., p. 101.)

56. Orpiment.—This is the yellow sulphide of arsenic, appearing in the form of smooth shining scales, which have long been an article of export from the Persian Gulf to India.

Pliny (VI, 26) says, "Next to these is the nation of the Ori and then the Hyctanis (Rud Shur?) a river of Carmania, with an excellent harbor at its mouth, and producing gold; at this spot the writers state that for the first time they caught sight of the Great Bear. The star Arcturus too, they tell us, was not to be seen here every night, and never when it was seen, during the whole of it. Up to this spot extended the empire of the Achaemenidae, and in these districts are to be found mines of copper, iron, arsenic, and red lead."

The principal use of orpiment was as a yellow pigment—auri pigmentum—making a durable mineral paint, as did realgar and lapis lazuli.

56. Wheat for the sailors.Marco Polo also notes (III, xvii), "No wheat grows in this province, but rice only."

56. Cottonara.Dr. Burnell derives this from Kolatta-nādū, which he identifies with North Malabar, of which Cannanore and Tellicherry are the centers. Dr. Buchanan prefers Kadatta-nādū, South Malabar, on either side of Calicut. In mediaeval times the domain of the Rājās of Kolatnād included both. Bishop Caldwell, in his Dravidian Grammar, derives the name from Malayālam kadatta, transport or conveyance, and nādū, district. Menon (Indian Antiquary, Aug., 1902), suggests kadal, sea, or kādu, mountain; and Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/232 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/233 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/234 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/235 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/236 chemical composition, being of the corundum group, was found in the same place as the sapphire of Ceylon, and was probably classified by Pliny under the carbunculus (XXXVII, 25). Both rubies and sapphires are found in much greater quantities in Burma and Siam, but at the time of the Periplus these deposits were probably unknown to western commerce.

56. Tortoise-shell from Chryse.Fabricius objects to this reading, and alters it to "that found along the coast;" but it is probable that the text gives a correct reference to the active trade of Eastern shipping in South Indian ports; which is, indeed, specifically mentioned in §§ 60 and 63. Marco Polo notes particularly the ships "from the great province of Manzi," and says (III, xxv) that the ships from Malabar to Aden and Egypt "are not one to ten of those that go to the eastward; a very notable fact."

To assume that conditions were the same at the time of the Periplus would be to go beyond the evidence; yet the records of the Chinese themselves point strongly to the existence of an active sea-trade at that time, certainly to Malacca, and less frequently, perhaps, to India and beyond.

With this item ends the list of articles traded in by the author of the Periplus. It is interesting to compare it with the letter from the Zamorin of Calicut to the King of Portugal, carreid by Vasco da Gama on his return from India fourteen centuries later: "In my kingdom there is abundance of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, pepper, and precious stones. What I seek from thy country is gold, silver, coral, and scarlet."

57. Hippalus first discovered.—The discovery of Hippalus, which may be placed at about 45 A. D. (see p. 8), opened a new ocean to Roman shipping; but it is probable that Arabian and Dravidian craft had frequented that ocean for many centuries, and inconceivable that they should not have made use of the periodic changes of the monsoons, by far the most notable feature of their climate. The evidence of both countries indicates, on the contrary, that they steered boldly out of sight of land, before records were written to tell of it.

Mr. Kennedy in an article in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1898, (pp. 248–287) also thinks that the monsoons were understood before the time of Hippalus, but doubts the beginning of any regular sea-trade before the beginning of the 7th century B. C., ascribing all such trade to the activities of Nabonidus, in whose time ships were known to have come to Babylon from India and even from China. Following this reign he thinks sea-trade between India and Babylon flourished for a couple of centuries, being mainly Dravidian but partly Aryan, and leading to the settlement of Indian traders in Arabia, East Africa, Babylonia and China. He minimizes the importance of the early Egyptian trading-voyages, considering them purely local, while the numerous references to articles and routes of early trade in the Hebrew scriptures he passes by with the assertion that they are due to the revision following the return of Ezra.

But whatever may have been Ezra's revision of the Hebrew books, substantially the same articles of trade are described in the records of Egypt at corresponding dates, and they indicate a trade in articles of Indian origin to the Somali coast and overland to the Nile, centuries before Ezra's day. (See also under §§ 6, 10, 11, and 12.

Such opinions presume a continuous trading-journey without exchange of cargoes at common meeting-points. But primitive trade passes from tribe to tribe and port to port. At the time of the Periplus cargoes changed hands at Malacca, Malabar, Somaliland, South Arabia, Adulis and Berenice. The custom is stated in detail in the Deir el Bahri reliefs describing Queen Hatshepsut's expedition of 1500 B. C., where Amon-Re tells the queen,

"No one trode the incense-terraces, which the people knew not; they were heard of from mouth to mouth by hearsay of the ancestors. The marvels brought thence under thy fathers, the Kings of Lower Egypt, were brought from one to another, and since the time of the ancestors of the Kings of Upper Egypt, who were of old, as a return for many payments." (Breasted, Ancient Records, II, 287).

It was the particular achievement of the Egyptian Punt expeditions that they traced the treasured articles to their source and freed the land from th heavy charge of those "many payments." Likewise Hippalus must be remembered, not for a discovery new to the world, but for freeing the Roman Empire from the Arabian monopoly of the Eastern trade by tracing it to its source. Beyond India no lasting discovery was made. Ptolemy, indeed, know of Cattigara through the account given by Marinus of Tyre; but such voyages were exceptional, and the majority of the Chinese ships stopped at Malacca, while the Malay colandia carried the trade to Malabar. It remained for the Arabs to complete the "through line" by opening direct communication under the Bagdad Caliphate, between the ends of the earth, Lisbon and Canton.

Prof. T. W. Rhys Davids, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1899, p. 432, quotes an interesting Buddhist passage referring to early sea-trade as follows: "In the Dialogues of the Buddha is a passage in the Kevaddha Sutta of Digha—5th cent. B. C. The Buddha says:

"Long ago ocean-going merchants were wont to plunge forth upon the sea, on board a ship, taking with them a shore-sighting bird. When the ship was out of sight of land they would set the shore-sighting bird free. And it would go to the East and to the South and to the West and to the North, and to the intermediate points, and rise aloft. If on the horizon it caught sight of land, thither it would go, but if not it would come back to the ship again. Just so, brother," etc.

Cosmas Indicopleustes found this same custom in Ceylon in the 6th century A. D., merchants depending on shore-sighting birds instead of observations of the sun or stars.

There are similar passages in the oldest of the Vedas (see Gibson's Rig Veda, Vol. I):

"Varuna, who knows the path of the birds flying through the air, he, abiding in the ocean, knows also the course of ships."

"May Ushas dawn today, the excitress of chariots which are harnessed at her coming, as those who are desirous of wealth send ships to sea."

"Do thou, Agni, whose countenance is turned to all sides, send off our adversaries, as if in a ship to the opposite shore. Do thou convey us in a ship across the sea for our welfare." (A remarkable prayer for safe conduct at sea.)

Kālidāsa, in the Sakuntalā, gies the story of the merchant Dhanavriddhi, whose immense wealth devolved to the king on the former's perishing at sea and leaving no heirs behind him.

The Hitopadesa describes a ship as a necessary requisite for a man to traverse the ocean, and a story is given of a certain merchant, "who, after having been twelve years on his voyage, at last returned home with a cargo of precious stones."

The Institutes of Manu include rules for the guidance of maritime commerce.

The passages quoted above indicate a well-developed and not a primitive trade. The sea-trade was principally of Dravidian development, while both the Vedas and the Buddhist writings are of Aryan origin, and refer to things new to their race but old to the world.

(See also Bühler, Indische Studien, in Sitzungsberichte der Kais. Akad. d. Wissenschaften, Vienna, 1895, No. 3, pp. 81–2; Indian Palaeography, § 5; Foulke, in Indian Antiquary, XVI, 7; Lassen, III, 3.)

More significant is the Phoenician origin of the Dravidian alphabet, long before the Aryan invasion of southern India; while a passage in the Rāmāyana suggest the ships of those whom the invaders contemptuously called "monkeys". When Rāma was dispatching his messengers to the four winds in search of Sītā, it was the maligned Hanumān who "flew" across the Gulf of Manār to Ceylon and discovered her. Who can doubt that the wings he used were sails, or that the Dravidians ferried across to Ceylon a force of Aryan landsmen, who later turned and crushed them under the caste-system and established the dynasties of Drāvida-dēsam? Stern must have been the subjection that brought them to worship one of their own race under the guise of a monkey, and to carry the cult of the monkey-god Hanumān in their own ships to the vales of oman, where monkeys are unknown and where it has outlived the memory of its founders, to the confusion of the modern observer. (Gen. S. B. Miles, in Geographical Journal, VII, 336.)

Signficant also is the fact that Lieutenant Speke, when planning his discovery of the source of the Nile, secured his best information from a map reconstructed out of the Purānas. (Journal, pp. 27, 77, 216; Wilford, in Asiatic Researches, III). It traced the course of the river, the "Great Krishna," through Cusha-dvīpa, from a great lake in Chandristhān, "Country of the Moon," which it gave the correct position in relation to the Zanzibar Islands. The name was from the native Unya-muézi, having the same meaning; and the map correctly mentioned another native name, Amara, applied to the district bordering Lake Victoria Nyanza.

"All our previous information," says Speke, "concerning the hydrography of those regions, originated with the ancient Hindus, who told it to the priests of the Nile; and all those busy Egyptian geographers, who disseminated their knowledge with a view to be famous for their long-sightedness, in solving the mystery which enshrouded the source of their holy river, were so many hypothetical humbugs. The Hindu traders had a firm basis to stand upon through their intercourse with the Abyssinians." (See § 14.)

Altogether it must be supposed that the navigation of the Indian Ocean began from the Persian Gulf and Arabia; that Western India claimed its share at an early date; and that this community of interest long excluded their customers of the Mediterranean world, from whose standpoint Hippalus was quite as great a discoverer as if he had really been

—"the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea."

57. Throw the Ship's head.—The text is trachēlizontes, which is a wrestlers' term meaning literally "throwing by the neck."  

Periplus 231 Burmese rice boat.png
Stern of a Burmese rice-boat, showing method of steering, identical with the Egyptian and Roman rudders of the time of the Periplus.

The word has led to much unnecessary confusion in the translation of this passage. Our author is describing a sailing-course which is obvious by referring to the map. The straight course before the trade-wind, from Hisn Ghorab to the Gulf of Cambay or the mouth of the Indus, would carry a vessel along the Arabian shore as far as Ras Fartak, beyond which the coast gradually recedes, so that the vessel would stand out to sea without changing its course. A vessel bound for the Malabar ports and sailing before the wind, with the type of rigging then in use, would have required steering off her course the whole time, thus describing a wide curve before making the Indian coast. Boats were not handled as easily then as now on a beam wind. The quarter-rudder required a constant pull on the tiller by the hands of the steersman.

57. The same course.Pliny's account of the voyage to India (VI, 26), which has been cited by most commentators on the Periplus, is appended for comparison. It will be seen that while it agrees with the Periplus in many points, particularly in its description of Arabia, its description of the Indian coast is not altogether the same:

"In later times it has been considered a well-ascertained fact that the voyage from Syagrus, the Promontory of Arabia, to Patala, reckoned at thirteen hundred and thirty-five miles, can be performed most advantageously with the aid of a westerly wind, which is there known by the name of Hippalus.

"The age that followed pointed out a shorter route, and a safer one to those who might happen to sail from the same promontory for Sigerus, a port in India; and for a long time this route was followed, until at last a still shorter cut was discovered by a merchant, and the thirst for gain brought India even still nearer to us. At the present day voyages are made to India every year; and companies of archers are carried on board the vessels, as those seas are greatly infested with pirates.

"It will not be amiss too, on the present occasion, to set forth the whole of the route from Egypt, which has been stated to us of late, upon information on which reliance may be placed, and is here published for the first time. The subject is one well worthy of our notice, seeing that in no year does India drain our empire of less than five hundred and fifty millions of sesterces, giving back her own wares in exchange, which are sold among us at fully one hundred times their prime cost.

"Two miles distant from Alexandria is the town of Juliopolis. The distance thence to Coptos, up the Nile, is three hundred and Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/243 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/244 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/245 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/246 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/247 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/248 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/249 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/250 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/251 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/252 60. Ships of the country: Sangara.—The first were, no doubt, the craft made of hollowed logs with plank sides and outriggers, such as are still used in South India and Ceylon (pictured on p. 212); the larger type, sangāra, were probably made of two such canoes joined together by a deck-platform admitting of a fair-sized deck-house. Dr. Taylor (Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Jan., 1847, pp. 1–78), says that the name jangār is still used on the Malabar coast for these double canoes. Caldwell gives the forms changādam in Malayālam; jangāla in Tulu; and samghādam in Sanscrit, "a raft." Benfey (art. on India in Ersch & Gruber's Encyklopädie, 307) derives it from the Sanscrit sangāra, meaning "trade;" Lassen, however, (II, 543), doubts the application of the word to shipping, and Herren (Ideen über die Politik, etc., I, iii, 361) ascribes the word to a Malay original. This is quite possible, as the type itself is Malay, and found throughout the archipelago.

Periplus 243 Double Canoe.png
Modern double canoe with deck-structure, of the sangāra type; in general use in South India, Ceylon, and the Eastern Archipelago.

The comparatively large size of the shipping on the Coromandel coast is indicated also by the Andhra coinage, on which a frequent symbol is a ship with two masts, apparently of considerable tonnage. "The maritime traffic, to which the ship type bears witness is also attested by the large numbers of Roman coins which are found on the Coromandel Coast." (E. J. Rapson, Coins of the Andhra Dynasty, lxxxii).

Early South Indian Coins
(re-drawn and restored from Elliot, Coins of Southern India)
Plate I, fig. 38 Plate II, fig. 45
Periplus 244 Indian coins.png
Kurumbar or Pallava coin of the Coromandel coast; showing a two-masted ship like the modern coasting vessel or d'honi. Andhra coin, showing a two-masted ship presenting details like those of the Gujarāti ship at Boroboedor, and the Persian ship at Ajanta.

The shipping of the Andhra and Pallava coins doubtless survives in the modern "masula boats" at Madras:

"The harbor (of Madras) can never be a harbor of refuge, and all that the works will secure is immunity for landing and shipping operations from the tremendous surf which is so general along the whole of the Coromandel coast. . . . Passenger traffic from the shore to the vessels is carried on by jolly-boats from the pier, or masulah boats from the shore. These latter are relics of a bygone day, when Madras was an open roadstead and when landing through the surf by any form of jolly-boat was a matter extremely difficult, if not impossible. These masulah boats are flat-bottomed barges constructed of planks sewn together with rope of cocoanut fibre, caulked with oakum, and are able to withstand better than far more solidly built craft the shock of being landed on the sandy beach from the crest of a seething breaker." (Furneaux, India, 254.)

Similar in a general way to the Andhra coin-symbol is the Gujarāti ship carved in bas-relief on the frieze of the Buddhist temple at Boroboedor in Java. While dating from about 600 A. D., this vessel was probably not different from those of the 1st century, while the short broad sail with double yards is identical with those of the Egyptian Punt Expedition of the 15th century B. C.

Periplus 245 Borobodur Ship.png
Gujarāti ship of about 600 A. D.; from the Boroboedor frieze. Ships of this type were doubtless included among the trappaga and cotymba of § 44, which piloted merchants into Barygaza.

"In the year 525 (Saka era, = 603 A. D.), it being foretold to a king of Gujarāt that his country would decay and go to ruin, he resolved to send his son to Java. He embarked with about 5000 followers in 6 large and about 100 small vessels, and after a voyage of four months reached an island they supposed to be Java; but finding themselves mistaken, re-embarked, and finally arrived at Matarem, in the center of the island they were seeking. . . . The prince now found that men alone were wanting to make a great and flourishing state. He accordingly applied to Gujarāt for assistance, when his father, delighted at his success, sent him a reinforcement of 2000 people. . . . From this period Java was known and celebrated as a kingdom; an extensive commerce was carried on with Gujarāt and other countries, and the bay of Matarem was filled with adventurers from all parts." (Sir Stamford Raffles, History of Java, II, 87 ff.)

60. Colandia:—This name seems to be of Malay origin, and perhaps means no more than "ship." Koleh panjail, "sailing ship," is the name for the fast fishermen entered in modern Singapore regattas. (Pritchett, Sketches of Shipping and Craft, 166.)

The text is kolandiophonta, generally supposed to be corrupt, the onta being the present participle of "to be." But Rājendralāla Mitra (Antiquities of Orissa, I, 115) derives the word from the Sanscrit kolāntarapota, "ships for going to foreign shores."

Periplus 246 Laung-zat.png
Burmese laung-zát, (without rigging); a carvel-built vessel on the same lines as the dug-out laung-gô for river use. The larger type, in general use on the Chindwin River, shows Chinese influence, although the lines are those of ancient Egypt. This type displays the stern-cabins differently arranged from those in the higher-built Chinese junk. See also Chatterton, Sailing Ships, 7, 31.

The colandia which made the voyage to Chryse and were of great size, must have been similar to the Chinese junks or the Burmese laung-zát, kattu or Chindwin traders. The sea-trade of the Gulf of Tonkin was of very early date. Chinese annals mention voyages to Malacca prior to the Christian era, and probably as early as the 12th century B. C. This region, known to the Chinese as Yüé-cháng, was independent until the extension of the Chinese boundaries under the Han dynasty (2d century B. C.). The compass, or "south-pointing chariot," was known in the 11th century B. C., but, as indicated by Hirth (Ancient History of China, pp. 126–136), was probably used mainly for geomancy until applied to navigation by the Persians and Arabs visiting China in the 6th and 7th centuries A. D. The Chinese themselves steered by the stars and the sun, and by observing the nature of the sea-bottom.

Periplus 247 Chinese Junk.png
Model of an early type of Chinese junk, showing the individual cabins in the stern-structure, each occupied by a merchant with his stock of goods, as told by Marco Polo; from the serial collection of models of commercial shipping, exhibited in the Commercial Museum, Philadelphia.

The Arabian geographer Mas' udi mentions Chinese junks which came to Bassora in his time, and in the cave-paintings at Ajanta, commemorative of the visit of a Persian embassy in the early 7th century, a ship is shown which, if not a junk, is manifestly influenced by that type of vessel. (See Torr, Ancient Ships, plate VII, fig. 40.)

Marco Polo (Book III, Chap. I) gives a detailed description of the junks of that day: (Yule's edition II, 249–51.)

"The ships in which merchants go to and fro amongst the Isles of India, are of fir timber. They have but one deck, though each of them contains some 50 or 60 cabins, wherein the merchants abide greatly at their ease, every man having one to himself. The ship hath but one rudder, but it hath four masts; and sometimes they have two additional masts, which they ship and unship at pleasure. . . .

"The larger of their vessels have some thirteen compartments or severances in the interior, made with planking strongly framed, in case mayhap the ship should spring aleak. . .

"The fastenings are all of good iron nails and the sides are double, one plank laid over the other, and caulked outside and in . . . with lime and chopped hemp, kneaded together with wood-oil.

"Each of their great ships requires at least 200 mariners, some of them 300. They are indeed of great size, for one ship shall carry 5000 or 6000 baskets of pepper; and they used formerly to be larger than they are now. And when there is no wind they use sweeps, so big that to pull them requires four mariners to each. . . . Every great ship has certain large barks or tenders attached to it; these are large enough to carry 1000 baskets of pepper, and carry 50 or 60 mariners apiece; some of them 80 or 100." So Fa-Hien left Ceylon in "a large merchantman, on board of which there were more than 200 men, and to which was attached, by a rope, a smaller vessel, as a provision against damage or injury to the large one from the perils of the navigation." (Travels, chap. xi.) And landing from this vessel in Java-dvīpạ, where he spent five months, he "again embarked in another large merchantman, which also had on board more than 200 men. They carried provisions for 50 days."

(See Yule's Marco Polo, II, 252–3, for description of junks in other mediaeval writers; also, for a full account of Burmese ship-building, primitive and modern, Ferrars, Burma, 132–8.)

60. Imported . . everything.Yule, in his Marco Polo (II, 333), quotes from the Arab geographer Wassáf: "Maabar extends in length from Quilon to Nellore, nearly 300 parasangs along the sea-coast. The curiosities of China and Máchin, and the beautiful products of Hind and Sind, laden on large ships which they call Junks, sailing like mountains with the wings of the wind on the surface of the water, are always arriving there. The wealth of the Isles of the Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/259 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/260 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/261 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/262 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/263 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/264 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/265 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/266 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/267 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/268 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/269 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/270 The numerous migrations from India into Indo-China, both before and after the Christian era, give ample ground for the belief that the ports of South India and Ceylon were in truth, as the Periplus states, the center of an active trade with the Far East, employing larger ships, and in greater number, than those coming from Egypt.

The great migration from Gujarāt to Java in the 6th century A. D., and the resulting Hindu kingdoms, have already been referred to, and their greatest monuments remain to us in the tremendous Buddhist temples of Boroboedor and Brambanan. If Clifford's belief is correct, the ruins at Angkor-Wat in Cambodia are no less distinctly of ancient Hindu origin. Of these he quotes François Garnier: "Perhaps never, in any place, has a more imposing mass of stone been raised with more art and science. If we wonder at the Pyramids as a gigantic achievement human strength and patience, then to a strength and patience no whit less here we must add genius!"

64. A Land called This.–This can hardly be other than the great western state of China, Ts'in, and "the city called Thinae" (meant, probably, as the genitive of This), was its capital Hién-Yang, later known as Si-ngan-fu, on the Wei river not far above its confluence with the Hoang-ho, in the present province of Shen-si. This state of Ts'in was for centuries the most powerful of the Chinese states, and a constant meance to the imperial power. The Chóu dynasty, which ruled from 867 to 255 B. C., found itself harassed in the west by the Tartar tribes, and in the east by rebellious subjects, the states of Wei, Han, Chau, Ts'i and Ch'u. Very early in the dynasty, perhaps in the 8th century B. C., a portion of their sovereign rights were resigned to the prince of Ts'in, in consideration of his undertaking the defense of the frontier against the Tartars. This policy naturally profited Ts'in more than the empire, and the princes of Ts'in, as the annals put it, "like wolves or tigers wished to draw all the other princes into their claws, so that they might devour them." The power of Ts'in grew until it overbalanced the confederation of eastern states, and the imperial power itself. As Tartar territory was conquered it was incorporated into the Ts'in dominions, and finally a Ts'in prince became Emperor of China in 255 B. C. The greatest of the Ts'in monarchs, Ts'in Chi Hwangti, who ruled from 221 to 209 B. C., is one of the brightest names in Chinese history. It was he who began the Great Wall, and who pushed the Chinese frontier across the Gobi desert, making Hami, under the Tian-Shan mountains, his outpost, and thus preparing the way for direct communication with Bactria. Regular caravan travel between China and Bactria is said to have begun in 188 B. C.

But the success of Ts'in had brought its own reaction. It was itself so much a Tartar state that it could not control all China, and it gave way to the Han dynasty. The political importance of the state was emphasized, however, by the first Han emperor, Kaotsou, who removed his capital from Loyang in Honan to Hién-Yang or Singanfu in Shensi, the ancient Ts'in capital, and in order to make that western location more accessible to the rest of the empire, built a great high-road from Loyang to Singanfu, which is still in use.

Periplus 262 Pilgrim.png
Buddhist pilgrim in northwestern China: from a 6-ft. panel in the Commercial Museum, Philadelphia, 1128 times enlarged from a portion of a film exposed by Bailey Willis, Carnegie Institution, Washington.


The Han dynasty soon lost its outposts beyond the wall, and made no effort to recover them until the reign of Kwang Vouti, 25–58 A. D., who made China a military power and conquered Anam, and by his policy towards the Yueh-chi reasserted sovereignty over Turkestan. His son, Mingti, began the aggressive westward policy which led to the great conquests of the general Pan-chao, who led his army of Chinese and Tartars as far as the Caspian, and who defeated near Khotan the Yueh-chi king Kadphises, then established in upper India. It was in this region that Buddhism seems first to have reached China, rather than through Tibet or Burma, and from this time China was always more or less directly in communication with Western Asia.

(See Hirth, Ancient History of China;—Richard, Comprehensive Geography of the Chinese Empire;—Douglas, China;—Boulger, History of China;—E. H. Parker, China;—H. B. Morse, The Trade and Administration of the Chinese Empire.)

64. Raw silk and silk yarn and silk cloth.—See also under §§ 39, 49 and 56. This is the earliest correct statement of the source of silk and of the routes by which it reached the world's markets.

Silk is the cocoon-secretion of the mulberry-leaf moth, Bombyx mori, family Bombycidae, order Lepidoptera; native, apparently, and first cultivated, in the warm-temperature climate of northwestern China.

Chinese legends mention the making of musical instruments of wood, with silk threads, under the emperor Fu-hi, (29th century B. C., while the rearing of the worms and the invention of reel, loom, etc., are ascribed to Lei-tsu, known as the "Lady of Si-ling," wife of the emperor Huang-ti (27th century B. C.). Cloth was woven of silk, embroidered by the empress, and those of the higher classes were enabled to discard skins as wearing apparel. Soon other textile materials were discovered, and dyeing introduced; so that rank and position were for the first time indicated by the man's outward appearance.

In the Chiu-li, dating from the 11th century B. C., it appears that the Chinese government supervised the production of silk in every detail, and that specialties of design, ornament, and embroidery, were already monopolized in different families. The same book describes the provinces of China: King-chóu, the modern Hu-nan, had a trade in cinnabar, ivory, and skins; Yu-chóu, next on the north and reaching the Yellow River, traded in bamboos, varnish, silk and hemp; while the northernmost, Ping-chóu (the modern Shan-si) was noted especially for cotton and silk textures. It was this province which was most in contact with the nomad tribes of Central Asia, through whose hands silk first reached the western nations.

(Hirth, Ancient History of China, 9, 22–3, 117, 121–2).

The antiquity of the silk industry in India is uncertain, but the weight of evidence seems to be in favor of its importation from China, by way of the Brahmaputra valley, Assam and Eastern Bengal, early in the Christian era; while the cultivation of native varieties, not feeding on mulberry leaves—the Saturnidae, including Antheraea paphia (the modern tasar silk); Antheraea assama (feeding on laurel species principally), and Attacus ricini (feeding on the castor-oil plant) were probably all stimulated by the value of the Bombyx silk.

(See Watt, pp. 992–1026; Cambridge Natural History, VI, 375.)

The trade in silk yarn and silk cloth existed in Northern India soon after the Aryan invasion. Silk is mentioned several times, as gifts from foreign countries, in the Mahābhārata, the Rāmāyana, and the Institutes of Manu; and it may be assumed that some trade at least went farther west. The Egyptian records do not mention it prior to the Persian conquest, and it was, no doubt, through the empires of Darius and Xerxes that it first reached the Mediterranean world.

The Hebrew scriptures contain at least two references to silk: the dmeshek of Amos III, 12 seems to be the Arabic dimaks, English damask, a silken fabric; while meshi in Ezekiel XVI, 10 seems to mean a silken gauze. Isaiah also (XLIX, 12) mentions the Sinim in a manner indicating extreme distance.

It has been supposed that the Greeks learned of silk through Alexander's expedition, but it probably reached them previously through Persia. Aristotle (Hist. Anim., V, xix, 11) gives a reasonably correct account: "It is a great worm which has horns and so differs from others. At its first metamorphosis it produces a caterpillar, then a bombylius, and lastly a chrysalis—all these changes taking place within six months. From this animal women separate and reel off the cocoons and afterwards spin them. It is said that this was first spun in the island of Cos by Pamphile, daughter of Plates." This indicates a steady importation of raw silk on bobbins before Aristotle's time. The fabric he mentions was the famous Coa vestis, or transparent gauze (woven also at Tyre and elsewhere in Syria), which came into favor in the time of Caesar and Augustus. Pliny mentions Pamphile of Cos, “who discovered the art of unwinding the silk” (from the bobbins, not from the cocoons) “and spinning a tissue therefrom; indeed, she ought not to be deprived of the glory of having discovered the art of making garments which, while they cover a woman, at the same time reveal her naked charms.” (XI, 26). He refers to the same fabric in VI, 20, where he speaks of "the Seres, so famous for the wool that is found in their forests. After steeping it in water, they comb off a soft down that adheres to the leaves; and then to the females of our part of the world they give the twofold task of unraveling their textures, and of weaving the threads afresh. So manifold is the labor, and so distant are the regions which are thus ransacked to supply a dress through which our ladies may in public display their charms." Compare Lucan, Pharsalia, X, 141, who describes Cleopatra, "her white breasts resplendent through the Sidonian fabric, which, wrought in close texture by the skill of the Seres, the needle of the workman of the Nile has separated, and has loosened the warp by stretching out the web."

Silk fabrics of this kind were much affected by men also during the reign of Augustus, but the fashion was considered effeminate, and early in the reign of Tiberius the Roman Senate enacted a law "that men should not defile themselves by wearing garments of silk." (Tacitus, Annals, II, 33.) The cost was enormously high; from an account of the Emperor Aurelian we learn that silk was worth its weight in gold, and that he neither used it himself nor allowed his wife to possess a garment of it, thereby setting an example against the luxurious tastes that were draining the empire of its resources.

Pliny includes it in his list of the "most valuable productions" (XXXVII, 67); "the most costly things that are gatheredd from trees are nard and Seric tissues."

Pliny (XXI, 8) speaks of other uses for silk: "Luxury arose at last to such a pitch that a chaplet was held in no esteem at all if it did not consist entirely of leaves sewn together with the needle. More recently again they have been imported from India, or from nations beyond the countries of India. But it is looked upon as the most refined of all, to present chaplets made of nard leaves, or else of silk of many colors steeped in unguents. Such is the pitch to which the luxuriousness of our women has at last arrived!"

Among both Greek and Roman writers there was some confusion between cotton and silk, both being called "tree wool;" and Fabricius, in his translation of the Periplus, omits silk altogether, considering raw material, yarn and cloth alike to be Turkestan cotton. But although these accounts err in some details, Pliny is sufficiently correct in his description of cotton. He distinguishes the wool-bearing trees of the Seres from those of the Indians (XIV, 4), and describes the cotton shrub, with its "fruit resembling a bearded nut, containing on the inside a silky down, which is spun into threads; the tissue made from which is superior to all others in whiteness and softness" (XIX, 2), while his account of the silkworm is at least within sight of the truth, although not so near it as Aristotle's:

"At first they assume the appearance of small butterflies with naked bodies, but soon after, being unable to endure the cold, they throw out bristly hairs, and assume quite a thick coat against the winter by rubbing off the down that covers the leaves, by the aid of the roughness of their feet. This they compress into balls by carding it with their claws, and then draw it out and hang it between the branches of the trees, making it fine by combing it out as it were; last of all, they take and roll it round their body, thus forming a nest in which they are enveloped. It is in this state that they are taken; after which they are placed in earthen vessels in a warm place, and fed upon bran. A peculiar sort of down soon shoots forth upon the body, on being clothed with which they are sent to work upon another task. The cocoons which they have begun to form are rendered soft and pliable by the aid of water, and are then drawn out into threads by means of a spindle made of a reed. Nor, in fact, have the men even felt ashamed to make use of garments formed of this material in consequence of their extreme lightness in summer; for so greatly have manners degenerated in our own day that so far from wearing a cuirass, a garment even is found to be too heavy."

(See also Lassen, I, 317–322; III, 25; Yates, Textrinum Antiquorum.)

The reeling of silk from the cocoons was confused into a combing of down from the leaves, which had also a basis of truth, byt was the cause of the confusion with cotton. Compare Virgil, Georgics, II, 121;—"Velleraque ut foliis depectant tenuia Seres."

Pliny finally distinguishes between the two fibers in referring to Arabian cotton (XII, 21): "trees that bear wool, but of a different nature from those of the Seres; as in these trees the leaves produce nothing at all, and indeed might very readily be taken for those of the vine."

The word "silk" is from a Mongolian original, sirkek, meaning silk; Korean sir, Chinese ssi. Hence the Greek sēr, Latin sericum. From this word the name Seres was applied to the peoples through whose hands the product came; by which must be understood, not the Chinese themselves, but rather the Turkish or Tibetan intermediaries. That the word was loosely extended to cover most of Eastern Asia is undeniable; but Ptolemy distinguishes the Sinae, Isaiah the Sinim, while the Periplus gives nearly the correct form, This, for China proper.

Pliny has a curious mixture of Seres and Cirrhadae in his Scyritae (VII, 2), whose flat-nosed Mongolian faces he describes as having "merely holes in their faces instead of nostrils," and whom he connects with an allied race, the Astomi, "a people who have no mouths, who live on the eastern side of India, near the source of the Ganges; their bodies are rough and hairy, and they cover themselves with a down plucked from the leaves of trees." Here he shows some knowledge of the silk trade through Assam.

Ammianus Marcellinus (XXIII, vi) has more knowledge of the Seres:

64. "Byond the districts of the two Scythias, on the eastern side, is a ring of mountains which surround Serica, a country considerable both for its exten and the fertility of its soil. This tribe on their western side border on the Scythians, on the north and the east they look toward snowy deserts; toward the south they extend as far as India and the Ganges. . . .

67. "The Seres themselves live quietly, always avoiding arms and battles; and as ease is pleasant to moderate and quiet men, they give trouble to none of their neighbors. Their climate is agreeable and healthy; the sky serene, the breezes gentle and delicious. They have numbers of shining groves, the trees of which through continued watering produce a crop like the fleece of a sheep, which the natives make into a delicate wool, and spin into a kind of fine cloth, formerly confined to the use of the nobles, but now procurable by the lowest of the people without distinction.

68. "The natives themselves are the most frugal of men, cultivating a peaceful life, and shunning the society of other men. And when strangers cross their river to buy their cloth, or any other of their merchandise, they interchange no conversation, but settle the price of the articles wanted by nods and signs; and they are so modest that, while selling their own produce, they never buy any foreign wares."

But to the Graeco-Roman world the Seres were a people as ubiquitious as the subjects of Prester John in the middle ages. The Chēras of Malabar (Seri in Sinhalese mouths; see p. 209), and even Ausar and Masira in Southern Arabia (see p. 140) were identified with them.

Concerning the long struggles of the emperors at Constantinople with the Sassanid monarchs of Persia, over the ever-increasing silk-trade, culminating in the romantic success of the Christian monks who succeeded in bringing the jealously-guarded eggs to Justinian, hidden in a bamboo cane, thereby laying the foundation of the silk-culture of Greece and the Levant, see Beazley, Dawn of Modern Geography, Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/278 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/279 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/280 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/281 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/282 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/283 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/284 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/285 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/286 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/287 Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/288 tribes. Ptolemy places them east of the Ganges, and corroborates the Periplus as to their personal appearance. Lassen (III, 38) identifies the name with the Sanscrit vaishāda, "wretchedly stupid," and says they were a tribe of Sikkim. Our author locates them "on the borders of the Land of This," indicating that Tibet was then subject to China. The location of their annual fair must have been near the modern Gangtok (27° 20′ N., 88° 38′ E.) above which the Cho-La or the Jelap-La Pass leads to Chumbi on the Tibetan side of the frontier, from which the overland route mentioned in § 64 led across the table-land to Koko Nor, Siningfu and Singanfu. Other passes through Nepaal are possible, particularly that by the Arun River, but the route through Sikkim involves the least deviation from the direct line from Koko Nor to the Ganges; while from Gyangste to the source of the Arun a pass must be scaled higher by 3000 feet than Jelap-La. (See Freshfield, The Roads to Tibet, in Geographical Journal, xxiii, Jan. and March, 1904; and The Highest Mountain in the World, ibid., xxi, March, 1903—O'Connor, Routes in Sikkim;—Louis, Gates of Tibet.)

Pseudo-Callisthenes (III, 8) refers to the Bisadae "who gather a leaf. They are a feeble folk, of very diminutive stature, and live in caves among the rocks. They understand how to climb precipices through their intimate knowledge of the country and are thus able to gather the leaf. They are small men of stunted growth, with big heads of hair which is straight and not cut." (McCrindle, Ancient India, p. 180.)

Fergusson (History of Indian Architecture, I, 13) says: "The Tibetans are a fragment of a great primitive population that occupied both the northern and southern slopes of the Himalayas at some very remote prehistoric time. They were worshippers of trees and serpents; and they, and their descendants and connections, in Bengal, Ceylon, Tibet, Burma, Siam, and China, have been the bulwark of Buddhism. In India the Dravidians resisted Buddhism on the south, and a revival of Aryanism abolished it in the north."

65. Feast for several days.—This description of a tribal festival and market resembles many accounts of other primitive peoples. Compare the following from Herodotus (IV, 196):

"The Carthaginians further say that beyond the Pillars of Hercules there is a region of Libya, and men who inhabit it; when they arrive among these people and have unloaded their merchandise, they set it in order on the shore, go on board their ships, and make a great smoke; that the inhabitants, seeing the smoke, come down to the sea, and then deposit gold in exchange for the merchandise, and draw to some distance from the merchandise; that the Carthaginians then, going ashore, examine the gold, and if the quantity seems sufficient for the merchandise, they take it up and sail away; but if it is not sufficient, they go on board their ships again and wait; the natives

Periplus 280 Sikkim merchants.png
On a modern trade-route through the mountains of Sikkim. The shoulder-baskets and covers of matting are easily distinguishable.
then approach and deposit more gold, until they have satisfied them; neither party ever wrongs the other; for they do not touch the gold before it is made adequate to the value of the merchandise, nor do the native touch the merchandise before the other party has taken the gold."

Pomponius Mela (III, viii, 60) seems also to speak of the silent trade of the Himalayas; Ammianus Marcellinus, in the passage already quoted, tells of such a custom at Tashkurghan, the "Stone Tower" of the Pamirs, where silk passed from Eastern hands to Western; while Fa-Hien, describing a similar custom in Ceylon, ascribes it to the "spirits and nagas," the tutelary guardians of the precious articles of trade. (Travels, chap. xxxviii.)

65. Great packs and baskets.—The same thing is in constant use today in this region, being the regular burden of the coolies of Nepāl and Sikkim.

65. Petri.—Our author is misled by a fancied resemblance to the Greek petrus, fiber; the word is the Sanskrit patra, leaf. Otherwise the description of the preparation of the tamala leaves is correct, being corroborated throughout by Pliny.

65. Malabathrum.—The Cinnamomum tamala is native in this part of the Himalayas, being one of the principal trees.

So Marco Polo (II, xlvi), in his account of Tebet: "It contains in several quarters rivers and lakes, in which gold-dust is found in great abundance. Cinnamon also grows there in great plenty. Coral is in great demand in this country and fetches a high price, for they delight to hang it round the necks of their women and of their idols." (See pp. 824, 87, 89, 21618, 256.)

66. Influence of the gods.—This is still the geography of Brahman writings. Like Tavernier in the 17th century, who summarized the Rāmāyana in his Travels, so this merchant of Berenice in the 1st century came under the spell of the great epics of India, as he sojourned among

"the sister nations three,
Cholas, Cheras, and the Pandyas dwelling by the southern sea."

The region beyond Sikkim, "impassable by reason of its great cold," and including the mightiest peaks of the Himalayas, was within the sphere of the Kukushetra of the later Vedas, the Brāhmanas, and the Mahābhārata, the home-land of the Brahman faith; with the greatest of all mountains, Everest, is associated the name of Gaurisankar, a name of Siva and Durgā; in the western curve of the great chain is the sacred peak of Kailās, the Olympus of the Hindu gods, the axis of the universe and the way to heaven; while the ending of the Periplus is that of the Sitā-quest in the Rāmāyana:

Halt not till you reach the country where the northern Kurus rest,
Utmost confines of the wide earth, home of Gods and Spirits blest!"

Periplus 283 Himalayas.png



  1. Cf. Virgil, Georgics II, 116–117:
    Divisae arboribus patriae. Sola India nigrum
    Fert ebenum, solis est turea virga Sabaeis.

    And again, I, 57:

    India mittit ebur, molles sua tura Sabaei.