Ancient Port Reveals Global Connections


Thanks for sharing this article; it was totally mind-blowing.


This is truly astonishing!


I read that too and I’m impressed at the details but a little less astonished at the thrust of it.

At this stage we should get used to the idea that the world has been interconnected since time immemorial but unevenly so. For example we have evidence of intercontinental trade for items that made the existence of civilisations possible from the Bronze Age but evidence that this came to a halt. That we are only beginning to scratch the surface of trade from India and South Asia to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, isn’t surprising. That we are surprised it exists is mildly surprising.


By now I’m quite annoyed with it because of all the “oh no, those people couldn’t possibly have accomplished this without outside help1)” going on in the background.

1) Aliens, extinct white master race, time travellers, take your pick.


We’re not really. This is another example of the “archaeologists being baffled” storyline in the press I mentioned elsewhere.

We have literally known about this port and its contacts since it still existed. That’s even in the article above.

In antiquity, this site, known as Berenike, was described by chroniclers such as Strabo and Pliny the Elder as the Roman Empire’s maritime gateway to the East: a crucial entry point for mind-boggling riches brought across the sea from eastern Africa, southern Arabia, India and beyond.

One Greco-Roman text, known as the Periplus Maris Erythraei , or “Voyage around the Erythraean Sea”—which Bhandare, of Oxford, described as “a kind of Lonely Planet guide for the first century A.D.”—lists the port as a hub for maritime trade routes stretching south as far as modern-day Tanzania, and east, past Arabia, to India and beyond.

And we’ve known where it is since the early 19th century.

until the Italian explorer Giovanni Belzoni, after nearly perishing from thirst in the search, rediscovered it in 1818 and hired a Bedouin youth to dig in the Isis temple with a giant seashell. A handful of European and American travelers followed

And finally, Sidebotham himself has been excavating there since 1994!

finally winning a permit in 1994. Now he brings an international team of specialists for a few weeks each winter, watched over by a sand-colored military base just up the coast.

This is not mind-blowingly new stuff. It’s mind-blowing, yeah, but not new. But the press always wants to make everything a new discovery, only because it is new to them. Apparently, reporting that a research project has been steadily adding to our knowledge of the ancient world for the last 30 years isn’t sexy enough.

In fact, we discussed aspects of Berenike here on the BBS before.