Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route

By Steven E. Sidebotham

The mythical overland silk street used to be now not the one option to succeed in Asia for historical tourists from the Mediterranean. in the course of the Roman Empire’s heyday, both very important maritime routes reached from the Egyptian purple Sea around the Indian Ocean. the traditional urban of Berenike, positioned nearly 500 miles south of today’s Suez Canal, used to be an important port between those conduits. during this publication, Steven E. Sidebotham, the archaeologist who excavated Berenike, uncovers the position the town performed within the local, neighborhood, and “global” economies throughout the 8 centuries of its lifestyles. Sidebotham analyzes the various artifacts, botanical and faunal is still, and hundreds and hundreds of the texts he and his staff present in excavations, delivering a profoundly intimate glimpse of the folks who lived, labored, and died during this emporium among the classical Mediterranean global and Asia.

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Christian wilderness groups and monastic facilities have been well known within the fourth century and later within the japanese barren region, and so much have been certainly very humble locations, just like the settlements defined the following. a few destinations, comparable to the cemetery close to the Lykabettus quarries at Mons Porphyrites,325 the development at Qattar simply off the Abu Sha’ar-Kainepolis/Maximianopolis road,326 and the past due Roman citadel switched over to a monastic cost at Abu Sha’ar,327 are recognized Christian facilities from surviving inscriptions and texts. Shenshef falls right into a diverse type; it was once a considerably wealthier neighborhood than the others and obviously had advertisement contacts with Berenike. Its constructions include multiple-roomed constructions, a few particularly huge, with different Settlements NILE-RED SEA ROADS • 173 Sidebotham, Berenike 11/18/10 10:25 AM web page 174 a number of courtyards. It most probably didn't serve a functionality just like that of alternative wilderness settlements defined right here, even though a few Christians could have lived there. CO N CLUSI O N the frilly street procedure with its praesidia and hydreumata, mines, quarries, and different settlements of doubtful functionality, including the purple Sea ports, dramatically illustrates the significance connected to the japanese desolate tract and purple coastline via the Roman imperial and provincial governments, the army, civilian marketers, and others. At no different time within the background of the world apart from the current, with its concomitant vacationer undefined, was once the inhabitants as nice in towns alongside the pink beach, and the industrial value of those towns as major, as through the Roman career. the 1st, moment, and early 3rd centuries and the fourth to 6th centuries c. e. have been ones of remarkable task and capability unimagined profitability for the govt. and personal marketers who gambled their lives and fortunes on endeavors undertaken the following. Judging by way of the various extra humble groups, no longer every person ventured into the barren region for monetary revenue. a few got here for spiritual/religious reasons, or to flee felony or own difficulties again domestic. 174 • NILE-RED SEA ROADS Sidebotham, Berenike 11/18/10 10:25 AM web page a hundred seventy five nine different EMPORIA different ports working in the course of the crimson Sea and Indian Ocean in Hellenistic and Roman instances have been very important within the international financial system (figure 9-1). Many have been involved both at once or ultimately with Berenike and with one another. AMPELO M E /A M PE LO N E notwithstanding unlocated, Ampelome/Ampelone used to be most probably based by way of Ptolemy II alongside the Arabian crimson coastline. Pliny (NH 6. 32.

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