Pre-Roman Infrastructure in the Eastern Desert

Steven E. Sidebotham

in Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780520244306
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948389 | DOI:
Pre-Roman Infrastructure in the Eastern Desert

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The most convenient routes that passed by or led to the purest and most dependable water sources, optimal hunting grounds, most desirable places to live, and best sources of usable stone were discovered by early travelers and residents in the Eastern Desert. The Wadi Hammamat inscriptions bear witness to pre-Ptolemaic maritime expeditions. Examples of possible pre-Ptolemaic desert roads are addressed. Donkeys were the primary pack animals used before the Ptolemaic period. As they undoubtedly did for road building, quarrying, and mining activities in the Eastern Desert, the Ptolemies and Romans most likely took Pharaonic practices as their model for water-resource acquisition and management as well. The Ptolemaic approach to dealing with roads, forts, and patrols may have differed from the Roman military's handling of affairs, certainly in the size and scope of their desert operations.

Keywords: Eastern Desert; Wadi Hammamat inscriptions; desert roads; road building; quarrying; mining; Ptolemies; Romans

Chapter.  4768 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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