First Egyptian Connection
The city of Alexandria was established by Alexander the Great, and it quickly became a very important center for grain and other trade. As Alexandria gained importance as a trade center, the Ptolemies who followed Alexander began building trade relations with other nations, so that Alexandria could become the most important trade city in the world. Under Philadelphos trade relations were made with the Nabataeans of Arabia. This allowed Egypt to profit handsomely from Asian trade, and resulted in Alexandria usurping Damscus' role as the leading merchant city of it's time. Details of this era can be found at Nabataean Trade Routes. Philadelphos originally built ports on the Red Sea to import elephants, but very quickly expanded these ports to accommodate the new trade with India and Asia. During the reign of the Philadelphos Ptolemey, the Zenon Papyri tell us of the relations between his agents and the Nabataeans as Zenon bought various aromatics in Palestine.
Second Egyptian Connection
The later Ptolemies, especially Euergetes II was not satisfied with control of the African trade, but tried to renew the early Arabian trade policy of Philadelphos to establish direct relations between Egypt and Arabia and India. The story of the great adventurer and explorer of this time, Eudoxos of Cnidus, is characteristic in this respect. (Strabo II, e.,4ff) The first voyage of Eudoxos has been tentatively dated around 119-118 BC the second to around 111 BC. Originally an envoy to Euergetes II from Cyzicos, the great commercial city of the Marmora Sea, Eudoxos entered the service of the kings of Egypt and carried out two commercial expeditions on account of Euergetes II and his successors. On his first voyage he brought back a cargo of aromatics and precious stones. It is unclear who Eudoxos was. His name sounds Greek, but then, the Nabataeans as well as other civilizations were adopting Helenization and everyone was using Greek names. Some have suggested that perhaps he was a Nabataean, but there is no solid evidence to support this supposition.
There are important inscriptions at Delos: a Greco-Sabaean dedication of two Minaeans to a Minaean god, second half of the second century BC; a Greek dedication of an Arab; a Delian inventory which names a certain Temallat, a Gerrhaean, about 6 BC; at Tenos at about the same time proxeny is given to a Nabataean Salamenes, son of Edemon; and someone by the name of Priene sends an embassy to Petra. (Durrbach, F.,Chois d'inscriptions de Delos avec traduction et commentaire, Paris 1921).
East Africa Connection
The efforts of archeologists are now bringing to light Greek/Roman ports along the coast of East Africa. These ports were originally established by Philadelphos Ptolemey to capture, train and import African elephants for his army. They were later used in the battle of Raphia, (217 BC, the year after Hannibal crossed the Alps) which was fought between the Ptolomies and the Selucids. The following links will provide you with some information about these ports along the East Africa coast. Since the Nabataeans were the principle maritime merchants for the Ptolomies on the Red Sea (See Who Were the Ancient Arab Tradres?) we can assume that Nabataean boats were among those that visited East Africa. As excavations are currently being carried out, complete reports are not yet available.
|Who were the ancient Arab Sea Traders?||Alexandria, the center of trade|
|Nabataeans in Italy||Berenice Port on the Red Sea|
|Nabataeans in Africa||Myos Hormos Port on the Red Sea|
|Africa: Juani Island||Leuce Come Port on the Red Sea|
|Africa: Mafia Island||Trade on the Arabian Sea|
|Africa: The Coast of Tanzania||Trade on the Red Sea|
|Nabataeans in India||Nabataeans in the Arab Gulf|
|The Kingdoms of South India||Indian Pottery Found in Petra|
|Arab Ports of Call in India||Trade on the Bay of Bengal|
|Nabataeans and Sri Lanka||Ancient Trade Items|
|The Kingdom of Ruhuna||Nabataeans in Turkey|
|Stone Anchors from Arabia in Sri Lanka||Malacca in Asia|
|Southern Arabia||Dong Song Kingdom in Vietnam|
|Southern Arabia Countryside||African Pottery found in Nabataea|
|Southern Arabia A Caravansary||Nabataean Trade Routes|
|Southern Arabia: The Marib Dam||Nabataeans on Rhodes|
|Southern Arabia Sa'ada (City in the North)||The Ancient Maritime Sea Route|
|Southern ArabiaYemeni Lifestyle||A Proposed New Trade Route Directly East fromPetra|
|Nabataeans in Antartica?||Elephants and the Nabataeans|
|Nabataeans in China||Trade on the China Sea|
|The Spice Route Time Chart (China, India, Arabia, Europe)||Nabataea found in Chinese Texts|
|China: The Li-Kan Question||Chinese Maritime History|
|An overview of Chinese history||The 'West' as mentioned in Chinese historical sources|
|Book Review; 1421 - The Year China Discovered the World|