Map of the Roman Empire - Pelusium

Pelusium
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Ancient Pelusium Tell-el Farama a strong fortress located on the easternmost mouth of the Egyptian Nile Delta, guarding the approach to Egypt. The Hebrew name is 'Sin'. Pelusium is mentioned in the Bible in Ezekiel 30:15, 16 ('Sin' in KJV)

Ezek. 30:15 - And I will pour my fury upon Sin, the strength of Egypt; and I will cut off the multitude of No.

Pelusium (Πηλούσιον, Old Test. Sin; both names are derived from nouns meaning “mud”). A celebrated city of Lower Egypt, standing on the east side of the easternmost mouth of the Nile, which was called after it the Pelusiac mouth, twenty stadia (about two miles) from the sea, in the midst of morasses, from which it obtained its name. As the key to Egypt on the northeast, and the frontier city towards Syria and Arabia, it was strongly fortified, and was the scene of many battles and sieges. It was the birthplace of the geographer Ptolemaeus. - Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.

Pelusium was a city in the eastern extremes of Egypt's Nile Delta, 30 km to the southeast of the modern Port Said. Alternative names include Sena and Per-Amun (Egyptian, Coptic: Ⲡⲉⲣⲉⲙⲟⲩⲛ Paramoun meaning House or Temple of Amun), Pelousion (Greek, Πηλούσιον), Sin (Chaldaic and Hebrew), Seyân (Aramaic), and Tell el-Farama (modern Egyptian Arabic). Pelusium was the easternmost major city of Lower Egypt, situated upon the easternmost bank of the Nile, the Ostium Pelusiacum, to which it gave its name. It was the Sin of the Old Testament (Ezekiel xxx. 15); and this word, as well as its Egyptian appellation, Peremoun or Peromi, and its Greek (πήλος) connote a city of the ooze or mud (cf. omi, Coptic, "mud"). Pelusium lay between the seaboard and the Deltaic marshes of the Delta, about two and a half miles from the sea. The Ostium Pelusiacum was choked by sand as early as the first century BC, and the coast-line has now advanced far beyond its ancient limits, so that the city, even in the third century AD, was at least four miles from the Mediterranean. The principal produce of the neighbouring lands was flax, and the linum Pelusiacum (Pliny's Natural History xix. 1. s. 3) was both abundant and of a very fine quality. It was, however, as a border-fortress on the frontier, as the key of Egypt as regarded Syria and the sea, and as a place of great strength, that Pelusium was most remarkable. From its position it was directly exposed to attack by the invaders of Egypt; several important battles were fought under its walls, and it was often besieged and taken. - Wikipedia

 

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History of Pelusium. The following are the most memorable events in the history of Pelusium:

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, 720-715 BC, in the reign of Sethos the Aethiopian (25th dynasty) advanced from Kingdom of Judah upon Pelusium, but retired without fighting from before its walls (Isaiah, xxxi. 8; Herodotus ii. 141 ; Strabo xiii. p. 604). His retreat was ascribed to the favor of Hephaestos towards Sethos, his priest. In the night, while the Assyrians slept, a host of field-mice gnawed the bow-strings and shield-straps of the Assyrians, who fled, and many of them were slain in their flight by the Egyptians. Herodotus saw in the temple of Hephaestos at Memphis, a record of this victory of the Egyptians, viz. a statue of Sethos holding a mouse in his hand. The story probably rests on the fact that in the symbolism of Egypt the mouse implied destruction. (Compare Horapolis Hieroglyph. i. 50; Claudius Aelianus, De Natura Animalium vi. 41.)

The decisive battle which transferred the throne of the Pharaohs to Cambyses II of Persia, king of the Persians, was fought near Pelusium in 525 BC. The fields around were strewn with the bones of the combatants when Herodotus visited. He noted that the skulls of the Egyptians were distinguishable from those of the Persians by their superior hardness, a fact confirmed he said by the mummies. He ascribed this to the Egyptians' shaving their heads from infancy, and to the Persians covering them up with folds of cloth or linen. (Herodotus ii. 10, seq.); however, according to legend, Pelusium fell without a fight, by the simple expedient of having the invading army drive cats (sacred to the local goddess Bast) before them. As Cambyses advanced at once to Memphis, Pelusium probably surrendered itself immediately after the battle. (Polyaen. Stratag. vii. 9.)

In 373 BC, Pharnabazus, satrap of Phrygia, and Iphicrates, the commander of the Athenian armament, appeared before Pelusium, but retired without attacking it, Nectanebo I, king of Egypt, having added to its former defences by laying the neighboring lands under water, and blocking up the navigable channels of the Nile by embankments. (Diodorus Siculus xv. 42; Nepos, Iphicr. c. 5.)

Pelusium was attacked and taken by the Persians, 369 BC. The city contained at the time a garrison of 5,000 Greek mercenaries under the command of Philophron. At first, owing to the rashness of the Thebans in the Persian service, the defenders had the advantage. But the Egyptian king Nectanebo II hastily venturing on a pitched battle, his troops were cut to pieces, and Pelusium surrendered to the Theban general Lacrates on honorable conditions. (Diodorus Siculus xvi. 43.)

In 333 BC, Pelusium opened its gates to Alexander the Great, who placed a garrison in it under the command of one of those officers entitled Companions of the King. (Arrian, Exp. Alex. iii. 1, seq.; Quintus Curtius iv. 33.)

In 173 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes utterly defeated the troops of Ptolemy Philometor under the walls of Pelusium, which he took and retained after he had retired from the rest of Egypt. (Polybius Legat. § 82; Hieronym. in Daniel. xi.) On the fall of the Syrian kingdom, however, if not earlier, Pelusium had been restored to the Ptolemies.

In 55 BC, again belonging to Egypt, Mark Antony, as cavalry general to the Roman proconsul Gabinius, defeated the Egyptian army, and made himself master of the city. Ptolemy Auletes, in whose behalf the Romans invaded Egypt at this time, wished to put the Pelusians to the sword; but his intention was thwarted by Mark Anthony. (Plut. Anton. c. 3; Valerius Max. ix. 1.)

In 48 BC, Pompey is murdered in Pelusium.

In 31 BC, immediately after his victory at Actium, Augustus appeared before Pelusium, and was admitted by its governor Seleucus within its walls.

In 501 AD, Pelusium suffered greatly from the Persian invasion of Egypt (Eutychius, Annal.).

In 618, Pelusium offered a protracted, though, in the end, an ineffectual resistance to the arms of Amr ibn al-As. As on former occasions, the surrender of the key of the Delta, was nearly equivalent to the subjugation of Egypt itself.

In ca. 870, Pelusium is mentioned as a major port in the trade network of the Radhanite merchants.

In 1117, Baldwin I of Jerusalem razes the city to the ground, but dies shortly afterwards of food poisoning after eating a plateful of the local fish.

The khalifs who ruled Pelusium following the Crusades, however, neglected the harbors generally, and from this epoch Pelusium, which had been long on the decline, now almost disappears from history.

Roman military roads. Of the six military roads formed or adopted by the Romans in Egypt, the following are mentioned in the Itinerarium of Antoninus as connected with Pelusium:

From Memphis to Pelusium. This road joined the great road from Pselcis in Nubia at Babylon, nearly opposite Memphis, and coincided with it as far as Scenae Veteranorum. The two roads, viz. that from Pselcis to Scenae Veteranorum, which turned off to the east at Heliopolis, and that from Memphis to Pelusium, connected the latter city with the capital of Lower Egypt, Trajan's canal, and Arsinoe, near Suez, on the Sinus Heroopolites (Gulf of Suez).

From Acca to Alexandria, ran along the Mediterranean sea from Raphia to Pelusium. - Wikipedia

 

Pelusium
PELUSIUM PELU´SIUM (?????s???, Ptol. 4.5.11, 8.15.11; Steph. B. sub voce Strab. xvii. p.802, seq.: Eth. ?????s??t??, ?????s???), was a city of Lower Aegypt, situated upon the easternmost bank of the Nile, the Ostium Pelusiacum, to which it gave its name. It was the SIN of the Hebrew Scriptures (Ezek. 30.15); and this word, as well as its Aegyptian appellation, Peremoun or Peromi, and its Greek (p????) import the city of the ooze or mud (omi, Coptic, mud), Pelusium lying between the seaboard and the Deltaic marshes, about two and a half miles from the sea. The Ostium Pelusiacum was choaked by sand as early as the first century B.C., [2.573] and the coast-line has now advanced far beyond its ancient limits, so that the city, even in the third century A. D., was at least four miles from the: Mediterranean. The principal produce of the neighbouring lands was flax, and the linum Pelusiacum (Plin. Nat. 19.1. s. 3) was both abundant and of a very fine quality. It was, however, as a border-fortress on the frontier, as the key of Aegypt as regarded Syria and the sea, and as a place of great strength, that Pelusium was most remarkable. From its position it was directly exposed to attack by the invaders of Aegypt; several important battles were fought under its walls, and it was often besieged and taken. The following are the most memorable events in the history of Pelusium:

1. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, B.C. 720--715, in the reign of Sethos the Aethiopian (25th dynasty) advanced from Palestine by the way of Libna and Lachish upon Pelusium, but retired without fighting from before its walls (Isaiah, 31.8; Hdt. 2.141 ; Strab. xiii. p.604). His retreat was ascribed to the favour of Hephaestos towards Sethos, his priest. In the night, while the Assyrians slept, a host of field-mice gnawed the bow-strings and shield-straps of the Assyrians, who fled, and many of them were slain in their flight by the Aegyptians. Herodotus saw in the temple of Hephaestos at Memphis, a record of this victory of the Aegyptians, viz. a statue of Sethos holding a mouse in his hand. The story probably rests on the fact that in the symbolism of Aegypt the mouse implied destruction. (Comp. Horapoll. Hieroglyph. 1.50; Aelian, H. An. 6.41.)

2. The decisive battle which transferred the throne of the Pharaohs to Cambyses, king of the Medo-Persians, was fought near Pelusium in B.C. 525. The fields around were strewed with the bones of the combatants when Herodotus visited Lower Aegypt; and the skulls of the Aegyptians were distinguishable from those of the Persians by their superior hardness, a fact confirmed by the mummies, and which the historian ascribes to the Aegyptians shaving their heads from infancy, and to the Persians covering them up with folds of cloth or linen. (Hdt. 2.10, seq.) As Cambyses advanced at once to Memphis, Pelusium probably surrendered itself immediately after the battle. (Polyaen. Stratag. 7.9.)

3. In B.C. 373, Pharnabazus, satrap of Phrygia, and Iphicrates, the commander of the Athenian armament, appeared before Pelusium, but retired without attacking it, Nectanebus, king of Aegypt, having added to its former defences by laying the neighboring lands under water, and blocking up the navigable channels of the Nile by embankments. (Diod. 15.42; Nepos, Iphicr. 100.5.)

4. Pelusium was attacked and taken by the Persians, B.C. 309. The city contained at the time a garrison of 5000 Greek mercenaries under the command of Philophron. At first, owing to the rashness of the Thebans in the Persian service, the defendants had the advantage. But the Aegyptian king Nectanebus hastily venturing on a pitched battle, his troops were cut to pieces, and Pelusium surrendered to the Theban general Lacrates on honourable conditions. (Diod. 16.43.)

5. In B.C. 333, Pelusium opened its gates to Alexander the Great, who placed a garrison in it under the command of one of those officers entitled “Companions of the King.” (Arrian, Exp. Alex. 3.1, seq.; Quint. Curt. 4.33.)

6. In B.C. 173, Antiochus Epiphanes utterly defeated the troops of Ptolemy Philometor under the walls of Pelusium, which he took and retained after he had retired from the rest of Aegypt. (Polyb. Legat. § 82; Hieronym. in Daniel. xi.) On the fall of the Syrian kingdom, however, if not earlier, Pelusium had been restored to its rightful owners, since
*
7. In B.C. 55, it belonged to Aegypt, and Marcus Antonius, as general of the horse to the Roman proconsul Gabinius, defeated the Aegyptian army, and made himself master of the city. Ptolemy Auletes, in whose behalf the Romans invaded Aegypt at this time, wished to put the Pelusians to the sword; but his intention was thwarted by Antonius. (Plut. Ant. 100.3; V. Max. 9.1.)

8. In B.C. 31, immediately after his victory at Actium, Augustus appeared before Pelusium, and was admitted by its governor Seleucus within its walls.


Of the six military roads formed or adopted by the Romans in Aegypt, the following are mentioned in the Itinerarium of Antoninus as connected with Pelusium:--

1. From Memphis to Pelusium. This road joined the great road from Pselcis in Nubia at Babylon, nearly opposite Memphis, and coincided with it as far as Scenae Veteranorum. The two roads, viz. that from Pselcis to Scenae Veteranorum, which turned off to the east at Heliopolis, and that from Memphis to Pelusium, connected the latter city with the capital of Lower Aegypt, Trajan's canal, and Arsinoe, or Suez, on the Sinus Heroopolites.

2. From Acca to Alexandreia, ran along the Mediterranean sea from Raphia to Pelusium.

Pelusium suffered greatly from the Persian invasion of Aegypt in A.D. 501 (Eutychii, Annal.), but it offered a protracted, though, in the end, an ineffectual resistance to the arms of Amrou, the son of Asi, in A.D. 618. As on former occasions, the surrender of the key of the Delta, was nearly equivalent to the subjugation of Aegypt itself. The khalifs, however, neglected the harbours of their new conquest generally, and from this epoch Pelusium, which had been long on the decline, now almost disappears from history. Its ruins, which have no particular interest, are found at Tineh, near Damietta. (Champollion, l'Egypte, vol. ii. p. 82; Dénon, Descript. de l'Egypte, vol. i. p. 208, iii. p. 306.)  - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.

 

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Maps are essential for any serious study, they help students of Roman history understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in historical sources.

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