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New PDF release: Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route

By Steven E. Sidebotham

The mythical overland silk highway used to be now not the single solution to succeed in Asia for historic tourists from the Mediterranean. throughout the Roman Empire’s heyday, both very important maritime routes reached from the Egyptian crimson Sea around the Indian Ocean. the traditional urban of Berenike, situated nearly 500 miles south of today’s Suez Canal, used to be an important port between those conduits. during this ebook, Steven E. Sidebotham, the archaeologist who excavated Berenike, uncovers the function town performed within the local, neighborhood, and “global” economies throughout the 8 centuries of its life. Sidebotham analyzes some of the artifacts, botanical and faunal continues to be, and hundreds and hundreds of the texts he and his crew 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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Example text

Another road, about 15 km long, joins a travertine quarry at Hatnub in the Eastern Desert to Tell al-Amarna on the Nile, the location of Akhenaton’s capital during the Eighteenth Dynasty. It is not paved, but it has a built-up roadbed with stone embankments in some places. Exploitation of the quarry took place in the Old, Middle, and New Kingdom eras. 44 Final examples of possible pre-Ptolemaic desert roads—though they, too, could be partly Roman in date—appear near the Gebel Gulab quartzite or siliceous sandstone quarry on the west bank of the Nile opposite Aswan.

62 We know of three major Ptolemaic roads in the Eastern Desert, as well as shorter routes, leading to Red Sea ports and to mining operations in the region. 63 Fortified stations and cairns identified and marked the route. It was along this highway that most elephants transshipped from Berenike to the Nile likely walked (see chapter 4). 64 Numerous gold-mining operations also used this route, which was furnished with unwalled stops possessing wells and fortified Ptolemaic strong points. There appears to have 28 • PRE-ROMAN INFRASTRUCTURE Sidebotham, Berenike 11/18/10 10:25 AM Page 29 been a third road, though the evidence is not extensive, between Koptos and Myos Hormos (about 6–8 km north of modern Quseir) on the coast.

E. authors and the archaeological record at Berenike and elsewhere show: this was a peak period of contact between eastern lands and the Mediterranean basin, and Berenike was an important player in these economic and cultural exchanges. 53 Seneca’s sources were two Roman centurions who accompanied the exploratory effort. The purpose of this reconnaissance remains unknown, but economic motives may have been considered. 54 He provides a long account of merchandise that Romans acquired from India, Arabia, and elsewhere, and notes what those peoples wanted in return from the Mediterranean world.

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