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 Then follows the isthmus, extending to the Red Sea near Berenice,1 which has no harbour, but good landing-places, because the isthmus is conveniently situated. Philadelphus is said to be the first person that opened, by means of his army, this road, which had no supply of water, and to have provided stations.2 This he did because the navigation of the Red Sea was difficult, particularly to those who set out from the recess of the bay. Experience showed the great utility of this plan, and at present all the Indian, Arabian, and such Ethiopian merchandise as is imported by the Arabian Gulf is carried to Coptos, which is the mart for such commodities. Not far from Berenice is Myos Hormus,3 a city with a naval station for vessels which navigate this sea; at no great distance from Coptos is the city of Apollo, so that two cities are the boundaries of the isthmus, one on each side. But at present Coptos and Myos Hormus are in repute, and they are frequented. Formerly, the camel-merchants travelled in the night, directing their course by observing the stars, and, like 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 rain-water is found, although rain rarely falls, which is also collected in reservoirs. It is a journey of six or seven days. On this isthmus are mines, in which the emeralds and other precious stones are found by the Arabians, who dig deep subterraneous passages.
1 The ruins are situated lat. 23° 56′ N., and about 35° 34′ E.
2 After σταθμοὺ, in the text, follows ὥσπερ τοὶς ἐμποοͅίοις ὁδεύμασι καὶ διὰ τῶν καμήλων, which Kramer considers to be an interpolation. Groskurd corrects, and reads σταθμοὺς προσφόρους τοῖς ἐμπόροις ὁδεύουσι καὶ πεζή̂ κὰ διὰ τῶν καμήλων, ‘stations for the service of travellers on foot and on camels.’
3 Near old Kosseir; the ‘Veneris Portus’ of Pliny. It was founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus, B. C. 274. The Greek name may signify, ‘Harbour of the Mouse,’ but more probably it means the ‘Harbour of the Mussel,’ (μύειν, to close, e. g. the shell,) since on the neighbouring coast the pearl-mussel is collected in large quantities. It is uncertain whether the ruins at the village of Abuschaar, represent the site of the ancient Myos Hormus. See Smith's Dict., art. Myos Hormus
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