Ptolemaic Diplomatic-Military-Commercial Activities

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:
Ptolemaic Diplomatic-Military-Commercial Activities

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Ptolemaic strata excavated at Berenike produced archaeological evidence that corroborates and adds to information preserved in ancient literary sources. The segment of an elephant tooth is evidence for live pachyderms in the city. The “discovery” of the monsoons and their exploitation by “western” sailors drastically reduced travel times and costs between Red Sea ports in Egypt and the Indian subcontinent for Ptolemaic and later Roman ships when they were in the Indian Ocean. Ptolemies' trade in ivory helped to defray expenses entailed in elephant acquisition, transportation, and training. Elephant and ivory acquisition was well organized on a large scale by the reign of Philadelphus. Berenike was clearly the preferred landfall, although on occasion elephants might be disembarked at more northerly ports for a host of practical or other reasons. Furthermore, Romans were fascinated with and curious about elephants.

Keywords: Berenike; elephants; ivory; transportation; Indian Ocean; Red Sea; Ptolemaic

Chapter.  11297 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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