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Map of the Roman Empire - Ptolemais
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Ancient Ptolemais (in Egypt): el-Menshiyeh. In ancient times Ptolemais was an autonomous Greek city in Upper Egypt about 330 miles south of Cairo. The city was founded by Ptolemy I who used it as a military base and gathered many war elephants. Ptolemais became the center of Hellenism in Egypt during Greek and Roman times. Strabo described its size and appearance as comparable to Memphis.
Ptolemais (Πτολεμαΐς). P. Theron, or Epitheras, a port on the Red Sea, on the coast of the Troglodytae. - Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.
Ptolemais, A port of the Colobi, on the Red sea, above Sabse, E. of Meroe. Surnamed Iberon, Epitheras Ferarum, from the wild beasts chased in its vicinity. Famous in connexion with the astronomical calculations of Eratosthenes, Marinus, and Ptolemy. Near Mirza Bombarrik. - Classical Gazetteer
Ptolemais Theron (translated, "Ptolemais of the Hunts") was a
marketplace on the African side of the Red Sea, whose location is now uncertain.
According to Strabo (16.4.7), Ptolemais was founded as a base to support the
unting of elephants by a certain Eumedes, who had been sent there by Ptolemy
Philadelphus, king of Ptolemaic Egypt. Eumedes, "secretly enclosed a kind of
peninsula with a ditch and a wall, and then, by courteous treatment of those who
tried to hinder the work, actually won them over as friends instead of foes."
(Strabo 16.4.7). Ptolemais was only one of a series of such elephant-hunting
stations along the Red Sea coast of Africa, Adulis being perhaps originally
another. The early Ptolemies had seen the value of war elephants by the military
strength of the Seleucids. Cut off from any possibility of acquiring Indian
elephants, they founded and actively sought to capture them from the neighboring
regions of Africa. Although these animals helped in the Battle of Raphia, they
proved unstable and the African species were intimidated by the Asian species,
which led to the Egyptians eventually abandoning the use of these animals in
war. Unlike most of the stations the Ptolemies established to the south of their
kingdom, Ptolemais had enough fertile land immediately around it to sustain it
as a town. By the time the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea was written (mid 1st
century), it had clearly declined in importance. The writer notes that it had
"no harbor, and can only be reached by small boats" (ch. 3). Ancient authorities
are vague on the location of Ptolemais, and the site remains unidentified. The
Periplus describes it as 3000 stadia south of the Moskhophagoi, and 4000 stadia
north of Adulis, inside the regions ruled by Zôskalęs, the king of Aksum; Pliny
the Elder (N.H. 6.168) notes that Ptolemais was close to Lake Monoleus. G.W.B.
Huntingford notes that Ptolemais has been identified both with the locales of
Aqiq, and Suakin some 150 miles away, and notes that Suakin lay at the end of an
ancient caravan route that links it to Barbar on the Nile. However, Stanley M.
Burstein argues for Trinkitat, where he states that "classical architectural
fragments" have been found. Ptolemais Theron's is noted by Pliny as a place
where shadows vanished under the noontime sun (meaning that the sun reached its
zenith) 45 days before and 45 days after midsummer. Pliny claims that this gave
Eratosthenes the idea about how to calculate the circumference of the Earth (N.H.
2.183, 6.168). - Wikipedia
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.
PTOLEMAIS THERON (Πτολεμαΐς, Ptol. 18.1, 4.7.7, 8.16. §. 10; ?t??eľa??, Strab. xvii. pp. 768--76 ; Agatharch. ap. Phot. pp. 457--459, ed. Bekker; Ptolemais Epitheras, Plin. Nat. 6.29. s. 34), was originally an Aethiopian village situated on the southern skirts of the forest which extended from the S. side of the Troglodytic Berenice to lat. 17° N. Its convenient situation on the coast of the Red Sea and in the heart of the region where elephants abounded induced Ptolemy Philadelphus (B.C. 282--246) to occupy, enlarge, and fortify the village, which thenceforward was named Ptolemais after its second founder. Philadelphus, indeed, before he colonised this outpost of his kingdom, used every effort to persuade the Aethiopian hunters [ELEPHANTOPHAGI] to abstain from the flesh of these animals, or to reserve a portion at least of them for the royal stables. But they rejected his offers, replying that for the kingdom of Aegypt they would not forego the pleasure of hunting and eating elephants. Hitherto the Aegyptians had imported these animals from Asia, the Asiatic breed being stronger and larger than the African. But the supply was precarious: the cost of importation was great; and the Aethiopian forests afforded an ample supply both for war and the royal household. As the depot of the elephant trade, including that also in hides and ivory, Ptolemais attained a high degree of prosperity, and ranked among the principal cities of Aethiopia. From its market it is probable that Carthage also derived its supply of elephants, since about the period of Philadelphus' reign the Carthaginians employed these animals more frequently in war. (Liv. xvii. Epit.; Florus, 2.2.28.) Ptolemais had, properly speaking, no harbour, and the Aegyptian vessels were compelled to run up to Berenice whenever the N. or E. winds prevailed: in the present day the Red Sea coast at this point is approachable only by boats. The roadstead of Ptolemais, however, was partially sheltered from the E. winds by an island covered with olive-trees. In its [2.678] neighbourhood the freshwater lake Monoleus afforded it a good supply of water and fish. The shell of the true land-tortoise was found at Ptolemais: it is described by Agatharchides (ap. Geogr. Minor. p. 40, Hudson; Peripl. Mar. Erythr. p. 17) as covered with small lozenge-shaped plates, of the whiteness of the pearl-oyster. To ancient geographers the position of Ptolemais was of great importance, being one of the points from which their computations of latitude were made. Modern geographers, however, are not agreed as to the degree in which it should be placed, some identifying it with Bas-Assiz, opposite the island of Wellesley, while others (Vincent, Voyage of Nearchus, vol. ii. p. 92) prefer a more southerly site, near the port of Mirza-Mombarrik. (Comp. Manner, vol. 10.1. p. 48, seq.) - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.
Map of the Roman Empire - Places