, Arrian; Μοῦσα
and Μούζα ἐμπορίον
, Ptol.), an important mercantile town on the Arabian coast of the Red Sea, not far north of the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb,
in the country of Elisari: placed by Ptolemy in long. 74° 30′, lat. 14°; or 30′ west, and 2° north of Ocelis (Ὄκηλις ἐμπορίον
) close to the straits. (Ptol. 7.15
. p. 152.)
He states that its longest day is 12 1/2 hours, that it is 1′ east of Alexandria, and within the tropics (viii. Tab. vi. Asiae, p. 241); Pliny (6.23
) names Musa as the third port of Arabia Felix “quem Indica navigatio non petit, nec nisi turis odorumque Arabicorum mercatores.” The author of the Periplus
frequently alludes to it, and gives a full account of it and its trade.
He describes it as situated in the southernmost gulf of this coast, a regular mart; inhabited altogether by Arab mariners and merchants, distant about 12,000 stadia from Berenice to the south, and 300 north of the straits. (Vincent, Periplus,
p. 296. n. 100; Gosselin, Récherches, *c.
tome ii. pp. 265, 266.)
It was not only an emporium of Indian merchandise--a manifest contradiction of Pliny's statement already cited--but had an export trade of its own.
It was distant three days' journey from the city of Save (Σαύη
), which was situated inland, in the country of Maphoritis.
It had no proper harbour, but a good roadstead, and a sandy anchorage. Its principal import trade was in fine and common purple cloth; Arab dresses with sleeves--probably the kemîs
--some plain and common, others embroidered with needlework and in gold; saffron; an aromatic plant, named cyperus (κύπερος
); fine linen; long robes--the ad ûs;
quilts; striped girdles; perfumes of a middling quality; specie in abundance; and small quantities of wine and grain, for the country grew but little wheat, and more wine. To the king and tyrant were given horses, pack-mules, vessels of silver and brass, and costly raiment. Besides the above named articles of merchandise, which were chiefly supplied to its markets from Adule, on the opposite coast, the great emporium of African produce [ADULE
], Musa exported a precious myrrh of native growth, an aromatic gum, which the author names στακτὴ ἀβειρμιναία,
and a white marble or alabaster (λύγδος
). (Arrian, Peripl. ap. Hudson, Geogr. Min.
vol. i. pp. 13, 14.) Vessels from this port visited all the principal mercantile towns of the south coast of Arabia. Bochart's identification of this Musa with the Mesha mentioned by Moses, as one extreme point of the Joktanite Arabs,--Sephar being the other (Gen. 10.30),--is thought by Mr. Forster to be untenable, on account of the narrow limits to which it would confine this large and important race; for the site of Sephar is clearly ascertained. [MAPHORITAE; SAPHORITAE.] (Geogr. of Arabia,
vol. i. pp. 93, 94.) M. Gosselin (Rćherches, &c.
tome ii. p. 89) asserts that this once most celebrated and frequented port of Yemen
is now more than six leagues from the sea, and is replaced as a port by Mokha,
the foundation of which dates back no more than 400 years (Niebuhr, Voyage en Arabie, [p. 2.380]
tome i. p. 349);, as indeed he maintains, that some of the maritime towns of the coast of Hedjaz
date more than 400 or 500 years from their foundation, and that the towns whose walls were once washed by the waters of the gulf, and which owed their existence to their vicinity to the sea, have disappeared since its retirement, with the exception of those whose soil was sufficiently fertile to maintain their inhabitants.
In a sandy and arid country these were necessarily few, so that there are not more than six or seven that can be clearly identified with ancient sites. Among these Musa
still exists under its ancient name unchanged (Ib. pp. 238, 239, 284) at the required distance from the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb,
viz. 300 stadia; reckoning 500 stadia to a degree. (lb. pp. 269, 270.) Vincent makes it short of 40 miles. (Periplus,
In the middle ages when the sea had already retired from Musa, another town named Mosek
was built as a seaport in its stead, which seems to have usurped the name of the more ancient town, and to have been mistaken for it by some geographers. This Mosek
still exists, in its turn abandoned by the sea; but about 25′ north of the true position of Musa.
(Ib. p. 270.) “The mart of Yemen
at the present day is Mokha.
. . . Twenty miles inland from Mokha
Niebuhr discovered a Moosa
still existing, which he with great probability supposes to be the ancient mart, now carried inland to this distance by the recession of the coast.” (Vincent, l.c.
There is a circumstance mentioned by Bruce of the roadstead of Mokha,
which coincides with a statement cited from Arrian with regard to Muza. Bruce says that “the cables do not rub, because the bottom is sand, while it is coral in almost every other port.” (Ib. p. 313. n. 142.) Moosa
itself Niebuhr found to be 6 1/2 hours =4 1/2 German miles, due east of Mokha,
at the commencement of the mountain country, the intervening space being extremely dry and thinly peopled.
It is an ordinary village, badly built, only recommended by its water, which is drunk by the wealthier inhabitants of Mokha.
( Voyage en Arabie,
tome i. pp. 296, 297; Description de l'Arabie,
pp. 194, 195.)