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DIOSCO´RIDIS INSULA (Διοσκορίδους νῆσος, Ptol. 8.22.17; Arrian, Peripl. Mar. Erythr. p. 16; Steph. B. sub voce Διοσκουριάς), an island of the Indian Ocean, of considerable importance as an emporium in ancient times. It lay between the Syagrus Promontorium (Cape Fartash) in Arabia, and Aromata Promontorium (Cape Guardafui), on the opposite coast of Africa, somewhat nearer to the former, according to Arrian, which is very far from the truth, if the Dioscoridis be rightly identified with Socotorra, which is 200 miles distant from the Arabian coast, and 110 from the NE. promontory of Africa. It is described by Arrian as very extensive, but desert and exceedingly moist, abounding in rivers tenanted by crocodiles, many vipers, and huge lizards, whose flesh was edible, and their grease when melted was used as a substitute for oil. It produced neither vines nor corn. It had but few inhabitants, who occupied the north side of the island towards the Arabian peninsula. It was a mixed population, composed of Arabs, Indians, and Greeks, attracted thither by commercial enterprise. The island produced various species of tortoises, particularly a kind distinguished for the size and thickness and hardness of its shell, from which were made boxes, writing tablets, and other utensils, which were the chief exports of the island. It produced also the vegetable dye called Indicum, or dragon's blood. It was subject to the king of the frankincense country in Arabia, by whom it was garrisoned, and farmed out for mercantile purposes. Thus far Arrian. Pliny's notice is very brief. He calls it a celebrated island in the Azanian sea, so named from Azania or Barbaria, now Ajan, south of Somauli on the African mainland, and states its distance from the Syagrus Promontorium to be 280 miles (6.28. s. 32). It is still tributary to the Arabians.


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