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GEDRO´SIA (Γεδρωσία, Strab. xv. pp. 721, 722, Ptol. 6.21.1, &c.; Κεδρωσία, Diod. 17.105: Eth. Γεδρώσοι, Strab. xv. pp. 723,724; Γεδρωσοί, Dionys. A. R. 5.1086; Γαδρώσιοι, Arrian, 6.26, 27; Γαδρωσόι, Arrian, 6.23; Gedrosi, Plin. Nat. 6.20. s. 23; Gedrusi, Plin. Nat. 6.23, 24; Gedrosii, Curt. 9.10), an extensive district of Asia, which is washed on the S. by the Indian Ocean, and bounded on the E. by the Indus, which separates it from India, on the N. by the Montes Baetii (now Washáti Mountains), Drangiana, and Carmania Deserta, and on the W. by Carmania. It comprehended probably nearly the same district which is now known by the name of Mekrán. Little was known of this province in ancient times, and its existence was most likely not heard of till Alexander's return from India, when he and Craterus marched across it by two separate routes, while the fleet under Nearchus coasted along its shore. Arrian has given some description of it, as it appeared to Nearchus; and there is a later and fuller account, as far as the names of places, in Ptolemy and Marcian, from which we may infer that after the foundation of Alexandria some trade existed between that part of Asia and that city. Straho differs from Ptolemy, by interposing between Gedrosia and the sea-coast some maritime tribes, as the Arabii or Arbii, between the Indus and the Arabis, and the Oreitae, between them and the Persian Gulf. The probability is that Gedrosia did include the whole district between the sea and the borders of Seistan and the kingdom of Kábul. Sir Alexander Burnes, in his Map, gives the whole country the name of Beluchistán, and makes Mekrán its sea-board. The Beluchis, from their language, must be comparatively modern colonists from Persia.

The northern part of Gedrosia was hilly, and comprehended the Baetii Montes (now Washáti). Towards the middle ran another chain connected with the river Arabis, and called the Arbiti Montes,--these [p. 1.983]are probably the Bala or Brahtul Mountains; and to the W. an extensive range, which was the boundary of the province in the direction of Caramania, the Persici Montes (now Bushkurd or Burkind Mountains). There were few rivers in Gedrosia, and these chiefly mountain torrents, or little better, which in the summer were almost dry or lost in the sands. The best known appears to be the Arabis (now Purali) (Arrian, Ind. cc. 22,23) [ARABIS], which enters the Indian Ocean about 90 miles to the W. of the mouths of the Indus: there are two smaller streams mentioned in ancient authors, one the Nabrus, which Pliny calls a navigable river (6.23, 26), and which may, perhaps, be the modern Dustee or Bhugwur (Burnes' Map), and Tomerus (Arrian Ind. chap. 24), or Tuberum flumen (Plin. Nat. 6.23, 26), probably the modern Bhusul. Marcian and Ptolemy mention several other rivers; but these are probably only small streams, and nothing is known of them but their names.

The character of Gedrosia seems to have been for the most part unfruitful, owing to the heat of the climate and the scarcity of water for irrigation. Arrian, however, and Strabo mention that it produced many rare plants, such as myrrh, spikenard, and different kinds of palms. Aristobulus (ap. Arrian, 6.100.22) speaks of the vast quantities of the Arabian myrtle (μύρρα) which the soldiers of Alexander met with, and states that the Phoenician merchants came thither to collect the gum of this shrub, which grew there to a great size Besides this, were some species of spikenard and laurels, from which the Phoenicians also procured sweetscented gums, and a plant armed with thorns so sharp that hares running through them are often caught by them (cactus). The inhabitants of the country constructed their huts of shells, and covered them (for roofs) with the bones of fish (Arrian, 6.100.23), and probably subsisted, like their neighbours the Icthyophagi, chiefly upon fish. There was a current story there that Semiramis, on her return from India, lost all her army, except twenty, in traversing Gedrosia, and that Cyrus escaped through the same district with seven only. (Arrian, 6.24.) Arrian has described with much minuteness the difficulties under which Alexander himself laboured.

The Gedrosii appear to have been an Arianian race, akin to the Arachosii, Arii, and Drangiani. They are first known to us by Alexander's invasion; but they do not seem to have been completely subdued by him: hence it is that very little is known of their political state. At the same time, it must be borne in mind, that between the time of Alexander and Ptolemy many changes may have taken place in the country, and that a district which Alexander and his generals found nearly devoid of towns may, in later times, have had all the cities which Ptolemy enumerates, but which we are not now able to identify. A considerable number of the places along the coast have been satisfactorily made out by Dr. Vincent (Voyage of Nearchus), with the aid of some modern surveys. At the time of Nearchus's voyage and Alexander's march, the people were apparently under the government of a number of petty chieftains, who ruled the different districts which are mentioned in the accounts we have of those expeditions. Along the coast we find (to proceed from E. to W.) the districts named Saranga, Sacala, and Morontobaca, between the Indus and the Arabis (Arrian, Ind. xxii.), with a harbour in the last called Γυναικῶν λιμήν, mentioned also by Marcian (p. 24) and Ptolemy (6.21.2). Then follow the Arabitae, along the banks of the Arabis; and Oreitae, Orae, Ori, or Horitae, like the last, a people said to be of Indian extraction. (Strab. xv. p.720; Arrian, Ind. 23, Anab. 6.22; Curt. 9.10.) The land of the last tribe produced corn, wine, rice, and dates. Nearchus founded, at the mouth of the Tomerus (Bhusul), a town which bore in after-times the name of Oraea (ωραία),--now Urmara (Peripl. M. Er. p. 21), to serve as a port of export for the surrounding country. D'Anville has suggested Haúr as its representative. Vincent rejects the position of Oraia as given by the author of the Periplus altogether. (Voy. of Nearchus, vol. i. p. 218.) At no great distance from, and perhaps within the limits of, the same tribe was Rhambacia (Ῥαμβακία), which Alexander considered so well placed that he ordered Hephaestion to establish a colony there. (Arrian, 6.21, 22.) Mannert supposes this is now Haúr (5.2.13); others, that it is represented by Ramghur. To the W. commenced the territories of another tribe, the Ichthyophagi (Arrian Ind. chap. 26), who lived, as their name indicates, along the seaboard of the land. Their territory was probably a long narrow strip of land (Strab. xv. p.720), and containing a few places, for the most part only small fishing villages (Arrian, Ind. 26; Plin. Nat. 6.23. s.26). Still further to the W. are several towns enumerated by Arrian, and indicative of a more fruitful and habitable soil; as, Balomum, Dendrobosa, Cyiza, Canasis or Canasida, Troesa, and Dagasiris. The author of the Periplus (p. 18) adds another town, which appears to have had some importance in his time as an emporium, Omana (τὰ Ὄμανα), mentioned also by Marcian (p. 22), and perhaps the same which Ptolemy mentions under the name of Commana (6.8.7). In the interior of Gedrosia Alexander met with a large place, which, from the description, would seem to have been a sort of metropolis, called Pura (πούρα, Arrian, 6.24). Forbiger supposes that this town is represented by the modern Bun-pur: Wilson (Ariana, p. 158), that it may be Puhrat--a place visited by Major Pottinger in his journey through this country. Major Pottinger's town would, however, seem to be too far inland to answer the description in Arrian. Pura, as a word of Sanscrit origin, signifying “town,” may, after all, have only meant “the city,” as the chief place of the neighbourhood.


hide References (9 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (9):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 17.105
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.20
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.23
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.24
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.26
    • Arrian, Indica, 23
    • Arrian, Indica, 24
    • Arrian, Indica, 26
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 9.10
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