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 Having given this account of the Troglodytæ and of the neighbouring Ethiopians, Artemidorus returns to the Arabians. Beginning from Poseidium, he first describes those who border upon the Arabian Gulf, and are opposite to the Troglodytæ. He says that Poseidium is situated within the bay of [Heroopolis],1 and that contiguous to Poseidium2 is a grove of palm trees,3 well supplied with water, which is highly valued, because all the district around is burnt up and is without water or shade. But there the fertility of the palm is prodigious. A man and a woman are appointed by hereditary right to the guardianship of the grove. They wear skins, and live on dates. They sleep in huts built on trees, the place being infested with multitudes of wild beasts. Next is the island of Phocæ (Seals),4 which has its name from those animals, which abound there. Near it is a promontory,5 which extends towards Petra, of the Arabians called Nabatæi, and to the country of Palestine, to this [island] the Minæi,6 Gerrhæi, and all the neighbouring nations repair with loads of aromatics. Next is another tract of sea-coast, formerly called the coast of the Maranitæ,7 some of whom were husbandmen, others Scenitæ; but at present it is occupied by Garindæi, who destroyed the former possessors by treachery. They attacked those who were assembled to celebrate some quinquennial festival, and put them to death; they then attacked and exterminated the rest of the tribe.8 Next is the Ælanitic9 Gulf and Nabatæa, a country well peopled, and abounding in cattle. The islands which lie near, and opposite, are inhabited by people who formerly lived without molesting others, but latterly carried on a piratical warfare in rafts10 against vessels on their way from Egypt. But they suffered reprisals, when an armament was sent out against them, which devastated their country. Next is a plain, well wooded and well supplied with water; it abounds with cattle of all kinds, and, among other animals, mules, wild camels, harts, and hinds; lions also, leopards, and wolves are frequently to be found. In front lies an island called Dia. Then follows a bay of about 500 stadia in extent, closed in by mountains, the entrance into which is of difficult access. About it live people who are hunters of wild animals. Next are three desert islands, abounding with olive trees, not like those in our own country, but an indigenous kind, which we call Ethiopic olives, the tears (or gum) of which have a medicinal virtue. Then follows a stony beach, which is succeeded by a rugged coast,11 not easily navigated by vessels, extending about 1000 stadia. It has few harbours and anchorages, for a rugged and lofty mountain stretches parallel to it; then the parts at its base, extending into the sea, form rocks under water, which, during the blowing of the Etesian winds and the storms of that period, present dangers, when no assistance can be afforded to vessels. Next is a bay in which are some scattered islands,12 and continuous with the bay, are three very lofty mounds13 of black sand. After these is Charmothas14 a harbour, about 100 stadia in circumference, with a narrow entrance very dangerous for all kinds of vessels. A river empties itself into it. In the middle is a well-wooded island, adapted for cultivation. Then follows a rugged coast, and after that are some bays and a country belonging to Nomades, who live by their camels. They fight from their backs; they travel upon them, and subsist on their milk and flesh. A river flows through their country, which brings down gold-dust, but they are ignorant how to make any use of it. They are called Debæ;15 some of them are Nomades, others husbandmen. I do not mention the greater part16 of the names of these nations, on account of the obscurity of the people, and because the pronunciation of them is strange17 [and uncouth]. Near these people is a nation more civilized, who inhabit a district with a more temperate climate ; for it is well watered, and has frequent showers.18 Fossil gold is found there, not in the form of dust, but in lumps, which do not require much purification. The least pieces are of the size of a nut, the middle size of a medlar, the largest of a walnut. These are pierced and arranged alternately with transparent stones strung on threads and formed into collars. They are worn round the neck and wrists. They sell the gold to their neighbours at a cheap rate, exchanging it for three times the quantity of brass, and double the quantity of iron,19 through ignorance of the mode of working the gold, and the scarcity of the commodities received in exchange, which are more necessary for the purposes of life.
1 The bay of Heroopolis is the modern bay of Suez. In the text ‘Ælanitic bay,’ which is an error of the author or of the copyist.
2 An altar to Poseidon (Neptune), which was erected by Aristo, whom one of the Ptolemies had sent to explore the Arabian Gulf.
4 Sheduan. The ‘Saspirene insula’ of Ptolemy.
5 Ras Mahomet, which terminates the south of the peninsula formed by the two bays, the Ælanitic running up to Petra, and that of Heroopolis running up to Suez. The meaning of Strabo seems to be, that this cape is in a direction due south of Petra and Palestine.
6 There is a wide difference of opinion among geographers with regard to the position of this important tribe in the modern map of Arabia. See Smith, art. Minæi.
7 The Maraneitæ appear to me to be the same people whom other geographers call Pharanitæ, and who received their name from their proximity to Cape Pharan, now Ras Mahomet. Gossellin.
8 Diodorus Siculus, iii. § 41, following Agatharchides, narrates the fact with greater precision. The Garindæi took advantage of the absence of the greater part of the Maraneitæ, and put to death those that remained. They then laid in wait for and massacred all those who were returning from the festival.
9 Gulf of Akaba.
10 ‘Light vessels.’ Diodorus Sic.
11 Thamud, formerly occupied by the ancient Thamudeni.
12 Shaur and Iobab?
13 Gibel Seik, Gibel el Hawene, and Gibel Hester.
14 The harbour of Charmothas seems to be the ancient Iambo, the ‘Iambia’ of Ptolemy, which now, from the accumulation of soil, is more than a day's journey into the interior of the country. It is in a fertile territory. The Arabs call it Iambo el Nakel, or Iambo of Palm Trees, to distinguish it from the new Iambo situated on an arid soil on the seacoast. Al Charm, in Arabic, signifies a fissure or opening in the mountains. It seems as if the Greeks had formed the name Charmothas from this word, mistaking the epithet given to the narrow entrance of the harbour of Iambo for the name of the town itself. Gossellin.
15 The Debæ occupied Sockia. The river which flows through the country is called Betius by Ptolemy.
17 Some are called by Diodorus Siculus, iii. 44, and Agatharchides, Asilæi and Casandres or Gasandres.
19 Groskurd's correction, σιδήρου for ἀργύρον, in the text, is adopted. But the passage is probably corrupt, and after σιδήρου we may read κὰ δεκαπλάσιον τοῦ ἀργύρου, ‘for ten times the quantity of silver,’ according to Bochart, and approved by Kramer.
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