restricted access Chapter 9. Other Emporia
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

9 OTHER EMPORIA Other ports operating throughout the Red Sea and Indian Ocean in Hellenistic and Roman times were important in the global economy (figure 9-1). Many were in contact either directly or indirectly with Berenike and with each other. AMPELOME/AMPELONE Though unlocated, Ampelome/Ampelone was likely founded by Ptolemy II along the Arabian Red Sea coast. Pliny (NH 6.32.159) reports that the colonists came from the Aegean city of Miletus, which was under Ptolemaic control at that time.1 LEUKE KOME Leuke Kome/Albus Portus (White Village in Greek/Latin) was initially under Nabataean control. Strabo (Geography 16.4.23–24) and the Periplus (19) indicate that it was active in early Roman times, while Cosmas Indicopleustes (Christian Topography 2.62)2 suggests that it continued to operate in the late Roman era. Though Leuke Kome has not been precisely located, a survey in the Kuraybah-’Aynunah area of northwestern Saudi Arabia found evidence of ancient activity there.3 These remains are unexcavated.4 The site, which includes Nabataean and early Roman potsherds, lies near the Strait of Tiran. Literary evidence does not indicate that Leuke Kome operated in earlier Hellenistic times. Early Roman-era Leuke Kome played a key role in maritime commerce and overland 175 Sidebotham, Berenike 11/18/10 10:25 AM Page 175 figure 9-1 Map of the eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the northwestern Indian Ocean, with major sites mentioned in the text. Drawing by M. Hense. Sidebotham, Berenike 11/18/10 10:25 AM Page 176 caravan trade passing en route to Petra. We are uncertain what contacts the port had with Ptolemaic emporia on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. Relations between the Ptolemies and Nabataeans were sometimes poor, with the former accusing the latter of piratical activities ,5 suggesting that the Nabataeans operated from somewhere on the Red Sea, perhaps Leuke Kome. Leuke Kome was prominent in the late first century b.c.e. (Strabo, Geography 16.4.22ff.), when a military expedition of ten thousand soldiers, launched in about 26/25 b.c.e. against Arabia Felix/Arabia Eudaimon, landed here, arriving from Arsinoë/Clysma. The troops comprised Roman legionaries stationed in Egypt and allied contingents from Judaea and Arabia Nabataea.6 Thence the expedition marched south for six months, reaching Marib, capital of Sheba/Saba, in modern Yemen.7 The army withdrew after an unsuccessful siege of Marib, its defeat due to nonhostile causes including disease and thirst. A fragment of a bilingual Greek-Latin inscription from Baraqish may be the tombstone of a Roman soldier who perished during that operation.8 Retreating north, the expedition embarked for Myos Hormos. Since Strabo was a friend of the expedition commander, Aelius Gallus, his is the best surviving account—the only example of a Roman attack beyond imperial boundaries for commercial reasons. Pliny (NH 6.32.160), Josephus (AJ 15.317), and Dio Cassius (Roman History 53.29.3–8) also record the event. Augustus himself boasts of this expedition in the Res Gestae (5.26), which suggests that he viewed it as a politicaldiplomatic triumph.9 According to Strabo (Geography 16.4.23), a heavily used caravan route linked Leuke Kome to Petra.10 The Periplus (19) also mentions this road and Leuke Kome. The Periplus says that freight arrived at Leuke Kome from Arabia in small ships and that a customs officer collected a 25 percent duty (tetarte) on imports. The harbor was guarded by a detachment of soldiers commanded by a hekatontarches, a centurion. There has been debate about the centurion’s “nationality.” Unfortunately, the term does not invariably denote that troops stationed here were Roman, since the Nabataean army also used this rank.11 We cannot be certain what role Leuke Kome played in the Red Sea–Indian Ocean trade, though the port appears to have been in contact with Egyptian Red Sea entrepôts and with other harbors on the Arabian Red Sea coast. It may have continued to operate in the late Roman period, if one believes Cosmas. If so, the date of its ultimate demise remains unknown. Perhaps a settlement at Iotabê, which remains unidentified but was likely in the area of the Strait of Tiran, replaced Leuke Kome as a customs post/port beginning sometime in the fifth century; in any case, Iotabe appears to have operated for only about sixty years before it was abandoned.12 AILA/AELA/AELANA Excavations at Aila (modern Aqaba...


pdf