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GERRHA, GERRHAEI (Γέρα, Γέρρα: Eth. Εγρραῖος), a town and people of Arabia Felix, on the Persian gulf (Ptol. 6.7), between the Aetaces on the south, and the Themi on the north. Strabo's description is more full and satisfactory than usual. “When you have sailed along the coast of Arabia 2300 stadia (apparently from the mouth of the Persian gulf, to which he assigns a length of 10,000 stadia), the city of Gerrha lies in a deep gulf, where Chaldaean exiles from Babylon inhabit a salt country, having houses built of salt, the walls of which, when they are wasted by the heat of the sun, are repaired by copious applications of sea-water. The city is distant 200 stadia from the sea. The land-carriage of goods, especially of spicery, is conducted by the Gerrhaeans; Aristobulus, on the contrary, says that they traffic with Babylon by barges, and then sail up the Euphrates to Thapsacus, whence they commence. the land-carriage in all directions.” (Strab. xvi. p.766.) Pliny (6.32) describes it as a city of 5 miles in circumference, with a tower [p. 1.999]built of square blocks of salt. D'Anville first identified it with the modern El-Katif; Niebuhr finds its site in the modern Koneit of the Arabs, called Gran by the Persians (Description de l'Arabie, p. 295). Lastly, Mr. Forster thinks that he has discovered the ruins of this once important city “in the East India Company's Chart, seated where all the ancient authorities had placed it, at the end of the deep and narrow bay at the mouth of which are situated the islands of Bahrein.” (Arabia, vol. ii. p. 209.) His proofs of this identification are fully given (pp. 216--221), and are interesting and plausible; but exception may be taken to the following assertion: “From Strabo we learn that the city of Gerrha lay at the bottom of a deep bay; the depth of this bay and its geographical position are defined by Pliny: from the shore or extreme recess of the Sinus Gerraicus on which the city stood, the Regio Attene (manifestly a peninsular district) projected at a distance of 50 Roman miles from the opposite shore into the Persian gulf.” Now, as Strabo is the only authority for the site of the city, and his description is contained in the words διέχει δὲ τῆς θαλάττης διακοσίους σταδίους τύλις, it must be admitted that “the bottom of a deep bay,” “or 25 Roman miles from the open sea,” is a wide deduction from this statement; and the position of “the extensive ruins of an ancient city,” marked in the Company's Chart on the coast, is perhaps the strongest argument against their identity with the ancient Gerrha, which, however, seems to be sufficiently confirmed by the other evidence cited by Mr. Forster. (See also vol. i. p. 197.)


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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.32
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