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Earth History Arabia

Earth History Arabia

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Published by: ram234 on Apr 26, 2010
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06/29/2012

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Ancient Arabia
 
Earth's Ancient History
A Website dedicated to Ancient Times
 
Ancient Accounts of Arabia
430 BCE - 550 CEHerodotus:The Histories, c. 430 BCEStrabo:Geography, c. 22 CEDio Cassius:History of Rome, c. 220 CEAmmianus Marcellinus:The Roman History, c. 380 CEProcopius of Caesarea:History of the Wars, c. 550 CE
Herodotus
The Histories, Book IIIc. 430 BCEThe Arabs keep such pledges more religiously than almost any other people. They plight faithwith the forms following. When two men would swear a friendship, they stand on each side of a
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Ancient Arabia
third: he with a sharp stone makes a cut on the inside of the hand of each near the middlefinger, and, taking a piece from their dress, dips it in the blood of each, and moistens therewithseven stones lying in the midst, calling the while on Bacchus and Urania. After this, the manwho makes the pledge commends the stranger (or the citizen, if citizen he be) to all his friends,and they deem themselves bound to stand to the engagement. They have but these two gods,to wit, Bacchus and Urania; and they say that in their mode of cutting the hair, they followBacchus. Now their practice is to cut it in a ring, away from the temples. Bacchus they call intheir language Orotal, and Urania, Alilat. . . .There is a great river in Arabia, called the Corys,which empties itself into the Erythraean sea. The Arabian king, they say, made a pipe of theskins of oxen and other beasts, reaching from this river all the way to the desert, and so broughtthe water to certain cisterns which he had dug in the desert to receive it. It is a twelve days' journey from the river to this desert tract. And the water, they say, was brought through threedifferent pipes to three separate places. . . .The Arabs brought every year a thousand talents offrankincense. . . .Arabia is the last of inhabited lands towards the south, and it is the only country which producesfrankincense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and laudanum. The Arabians do not get any of these,except the myrrh, without trouble. The frankincense they procure by means of the gum styrax,which the Greeks obtain from the Phoenicians; this they burn, and thereby obtain the spice. Forthe trees which bear the frankincense are guarded by winged serpents, small in size, and ofvaried colors, whereof vast numbers hang about every tree. They are of the same kind as theserpents that invade Egypt; and there is nothing but the smoke of the styrax which will drivethem from the trees. The Arabians say that the whole world would swarm with these serpents, ifthey were not kept in check in the way in which I know that vipers Such, then, is the way inwhich the Arabians obtain their frankincense; their manner of collecting the cassia is thefollowing: They cover all their body and their face with the hides of oxen and other skins, leavingonly holes for the eyes, and thus protected go in search of the cassia, which grows in a lake ofno great depth. All round the shores and in the lake itself there dwell a number of wingedanimals, much resembling bats, which screech horribly, and are very valiant. These creaturesthey must keep from their eyes all the while that they gather the cassia.Still more wonderful is the mode in which they collect the cinnamon. Where the wood grows,and what country produces it, they cannot tell---only some, following probability, relate that itcomes from the country in which Bacchus was brought up. Great birds, they say, bring the stickswhich we Greeks, taking the word from the Phoenicians, call cinnamon, and carry them up intothe air to make their nests. These are fastened with a sort of mud to a sheer face of rock, whereno foot of man is able to climb. So the Arabians, to get the cinnamon, use the following artifice.They cut all the oxen and asses and beasts of burthen that die in their land into large pieces,which they carry with them into those regions, and Place near the nests: then they withdraw to adistance, and the old birds, swooping down, seize the pieces of meat and fly with them up totheir nests; which, not being able to support the weight, break off and fall to the ground.Hereupon the Arabians return and collect the cinnamon, which is afterwards carried from Arabiainto other countries.Concerning the spices of Arabia let no more be said. The whole country is scented with them,and exhales an odor marvelously sweet. There are also in Arabia two kinds of sheep worthy ofadmiration, the like of which is nowhere else to be seen; the one kind has long tails, not lessthan three cubits in length, which, if they were allowed to trail on the ground, would be bruisedand fall into sores. As it is, all the shepherds know enough of carpentering to make little trucksfor their sheep's tails. The trucks are placed under the tails, each sheep having one to himself,and the tails are then tied down upon them. The other kind has a broad tail, which is a cubitacross sometimes. are. . . .The Arabians wore the zeira, or long cloak, fastened about them witha girdle; and carried at their right side long bows, which when unstrung bent backwards.
Strabo
Geography Book XVI, Chap. iv, 1-4, 18-19, 21-26c. 22 CEBook XVI.iv.1: Arabia commences on the side of Babylonia with Maecene [modern Kuwait]. In
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Ancient Arabia
front of this district, on one side lies the desert of the Arabians, on the other are the marshesopposite to the Chaldeans, formed by the overflowing of the Euphrates, and in another directionis the Sea of Persia. This country has an unhealthy and cloudy atmosphere; it is subject toshowers, and also to scorching heat; still its products are excellent. The vine grows in themarshes; as much earth as the plant may require is laid upon hurdles of reeds; the hurdle isfrequently carried away by the water, and is then forced back again by poles to its propersituation. . . .XVI.iv.2. From Heroöpolis [modern Abu-Keyschid, near modern Suez City], situated in thatrecess of the Arabian Gulf which is on the side of the Nile, to Babylon, towards Petra of theNabataei, are 5600 stadia. The whole tract lies in the direction of the summer solstice (i.e., eastand west), and passes through the adjacent Arabian tribes, namely Nabataei, Chaulotaei, andAgraei [in the modern An-Nafud desert, along on the borders of present Jordan, Iraq, and SaudiArabia]. Above these people is Arabia Felix, stretching out 12,000 stadia towards the south tothe Atlantic Sea.The first people, next after the Syrians and Jews, who occupy this country are husbandmen.These people are succeeded by a barren and sandy tract, producing a few palms, the acanthus,and tamarisk; water is obtained by digging [wells] as in Gedrosia. It is inhabited by ArabianScenitae, who breed camels [in the area just to the west of the Euphrates]. The extreme partstowards the south, and opposite to Ethiopia, are watered by summer showers, and are sowedtwice, like the land in India. Its rivers are exhausted in watering plains, and by running into lakes.The general fertility of the country is very great; among other products, there is in particular anabundant supply of honey; except horses, there are numerous herds of animals, mules, andswine; birds also of every kind, except geese and the gallinaceous tribe. Four of the mostpopulous nations inhabit the extremity of the above-mentioned country [i.e., modern Yemen];namely, the Minaei the part towards the Red Sea, whose largest city is Carna or Carnana. Nextto these are the Sabaeans, whose chief city is Mariaba [Yemen proper, about the capital San'a].The third nation are the Cattabaneis, extending to the straits and the passage across theArabian Gulf [the area about modern Aden]. Their royal seat is called Tamna. TheChatramotitae are the furthest of these nations towards the east [in modern Hadramawt]. Theircity is Sabata.XVI.iv.3. All these cities are governed by one monarch, and are flourishing. They are adornedwith beautiful temples and palaces. Their houses, in the mode of binding the timbers together,are like those in Egypt. The four countries comprise a greater territory than the Delta of Egypt.The son does not succeed the father in the throne, but the son who is born in a family of thenobles first after the accession of the king. As soon as any one is invested with the government,the pregnant wives of the nobles are registered, and guardians are appointed to watch which ofthem is first delivered of a son. The custom is to adopt and educate the child in a princelymanner as the future successor to the throne.XVI.iv.4. Cattabania produces frankincense, and Chatramotitis myrrh; these and other aromaticsare the medium of exchange with the merchants. Merchants arrive in seventy days at Minaeafrom Aelana [i.e., modern Aqaba]. Aelana is a city on the other recess of the Arabian Gulf, whichis called Aelanites, opposite to Gaza, as we have before described it. The Gerrhaei [who dweltalong the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf, between what is now Kuwait and Qatar] arrive inChatramotitis in forty days. The part of the Arabian Gulf along the side of Arabia, if we reckonfrom the recess of the Aelanitic bay, is, according to the accounts of Alexander and Anaxicrates,14,000 stadia in extent; but this computation is too great. The part opposite to Troglodyticae[The Troglodyticae extended along the western side of the Red Sea, from about the 26th degreeof latitude to the 19th degree, near modern Tawkar], which is on the right hand of those who aresailing from Heroöpolis to Ptolemaïs, to the country where elephants are taken, extends 9000stadia to the south, and inclines a little towards the east. Thence to the straits are about 4500stadia, in a direction more towards the east. The straits at Ethiopia are formed by a promontorycalled Deire [i.e., modern Bab-el-Mandeb]. There is a small town upon it of the same name. TheIchthyophagi inhabit this country. Here it is said is a pillar of Sesostris the Egyptian, on which isinscribed, in hieroglyphics, an account of his passage (across the Arabian Gulf). For he appearsto have subdued first Ethiopia and Troglodytica, and afterwards to have passed over intoArabia. He then overran the whole of Asia. Hence in many places there are dykes called thedykes of Sesostris, and temples built in honor of Egyptian deities. . . .***
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