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 Cattabania produces frankincense, and Chatramotitis myrrh; these and other aromatics are the medium of exchange with the merchants. Merchants arrive in seventy days at Minæa from Ælana.1 Ælana is a city on the other recess of the Arabian Gulf, which is called Ælanites, opposite to Gaza, as we have before described it.2 The Gerrhæi arrive in Chatramotitis in forty days. The part of the Arabian Gulf along the side of Arabia, if we reckon from the recess of the Ælanitic bay, is, according to the accounts of Alexander and Anaxicrates, 14,000 stadia in extent; but this computation is too great. The part opposite to Troglodytica, which is on the right hand of those who are sailing from Heroopolis3 to Ptolemaïs, to the country where elephants are taken, extends 9000 stadia to the south, and inclines a little towards the east. Thence to the straits are about 4500 stadia, in a direction more towards the east. The straits at Ethiopia are formed by a promontory called Deire.4 There is a small town upon it of the same name. The Ichthyophagi inhabit this country. Here it is said is a pillar of Sesostris the Egyptian, on which is inscribed, in hieroglyphics, an account of his passage (across the Arabian Gulf). For he appears to have subdued first Ethiopia and Troglodytica,5 and afterwards to have passed over into Arabia. He then overran the whole of Asia. Hence in many places there are dykes called the dykes of Sesostris, and temples built in honour of Egyptian deities. The straits at Deire are contracted to the width of 60 stadia; not indeed that these are now called the Straits, for ships proceed to a further distance, and find a passage of about 200 stadia between the two continents;6 six islands contiguous to one another leave a very narrow passage through them for vessels, by filling up the interval between the continents. Through these goods are transported from one continent to the other on rafts; it is this passage which is called the Straits. After these islands, the subsequent navigation is among bays along the Myrrh country, in the direction of south and east, as far as the Cinnamon country, a distance of about 5000 stadia;7 beyond this district no one to this time, it is said, has penetrated. There are not many cities upon the coast, but in the interior they are numerous and well inhabited. Such is the account of Arabia given by Eratosthenes. We must add what is related also by other writers.
1 Ailah, or Hœle, or Acaba-Ila.
2 C. ii. § 30.
3 The ruins are still visible at Abu-Keyschid.
4 Deire, or the ‘neck,’ so called from its position on a headland of the same name, was a town situated on the African shore of the straits of Babel-Mandeb, at their narrowest part.
5 The Troglodytica extended along the western side of the Arabian Gulf, from about the 19th degree of latitude to beyond the strait. According to Pliny, vi. c. 34, Sesostris conducted his army as far as the promontory Mossylicus, which I think is Cape Mete of the modern kingdom of Adel. Gossellin.
6 The 60 and 200 stadia assigned to the straits refer to the two passages there to be found. The 60 stadia agree with the distance of the eastern cape of Babelmandeb, the ancient Palindromos, to the island Mehun; and the 200 stadia to the distance of this island from the coast of Africa. In this last interval are the six islands of which Strabo speaks.
7 This passage has sometimes been mistaken to mean, that the region producing myrrh and cinnamon refers to the southern coast of Arabia. Our author here speaks of the coast of Africa, which extends from the Strait of Babelmandeb to Cape Guardafui. This space in following the coast is 160 or 165 leagues, which are equivalent to 5000 olympic stadia. Gossellin.
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