0ur quest for Charmutha, one of the most famous cities in the ancient world, continues … Its river, the Becius, which was one of the most powerful in the Arabian Peninsula, gradually disappeared over a long period of several centuries. Located between Djeddha and Almojermah, south of the five pyramidal mountains and north of the flat hill, the river crossed the mountain barrier between the cities of Ushash in the north and Taif in the south (see Chapter IV on the Tropic of Cancer), downstream of a sand lake and upstream from the city of Al Qi’dubah (see Chapter V on the Hejaz waterfalls). Today, his disappearance seems inconceivable. And yet, desertification has get to dry up all the sources of this powerful river. Only a climatic derangement can have such an effect and the objective of this chapter is to expose a flagrant example of this desertification: the banizomenes, one of the countries of the Arab kingdom of Punt.
Chapter VII : Charmutha, Becius : The Punt kingdom and its countries
This climatic derangement had a disastrous effect on Charmutha and its port. In the first century BC (50 years BC), according to Diodorus the Sicilian, access to the city was so vast that 2,000 ships could leave quickly and without worry: « And from the entrance to this port wide of eighty toises, they could emerge two thousand naves. « . Half a century later (15 years BC), according to Artemidore (witness reported by Strabo, reference n°2), navigation had become complex for the boats: « the opening is narrow and dangerous for all kinds of boats ». Then, in the first century, the Charmutha name disappeared from the men’s memory since it was no longer mentioned in « the trip of the Eritrean Sea » (reference n°13), nor on the maps of Ptolemy (see figure VII.a, reference n°8).
Figure VII.b.1: first map of the Arabian Peninsula by Allain Manesson Mallet (reference n°14)
Figure VII.b.2: second map of the Arabian Peninsula by Allain Manesson Mallet (reference n°14)
As for the river, maps of the Arabian Peninsula published by Allain Manesson Mallet (see figure VII.b, reference n°14) show its slow agony. On the most recent of the two, the Becius, renamed Eda, lost its two affluents, those of the north and the south. This river was located next to Mecca, the city being represented by a mosque with a cross above. It should be noted that before the Umayyad period (661-750), the cross was part of the Arab-Muslim world. It was thus visible on the old currencies (see figure VII.C, reference n°15).
Figure VII.c: first Arab-Muslim coins (reference n°15)
Today, from Becius, there is nothing left except a green corridor southeast of Djeddha. This agony, which lasted several centuries, can only be possible if there has been a climate’s change. And such a change is the sign of an ecological disaster that have been visible on the landscape as on wildlife. The witness of Diodorus the Sicilian then becomes interesting since it was a observer of the climatic derangement on this eastern part of the Red Sea, in particular on the country of the banizomenes. North of the mighty river, there was at first a shore of 300 km (62 places) then beyond a beach 150 km long (32 places) and difficult to access because of the hills that surrounded it (see Figure VII.d).
Figure VII.d: map of the Red Sea (google source)
Here is what Diodorus the Sicilian said about this country: « Follows after a rural and wet country with plenty of streams that allow to feed and to grow the Loton at the height of a man. And for the goodness and grace of this country, there is not only an infinite number of sheep and other cattle, but also wild camels, deer and fallow deer. They come more from desert places for pasture but also lions, wolves and leopards against which pastors are forced to fight day and night for the care and safety of their livestock. And so, the soil’s goodness brings at the same time to the inhabitants of damages and dangers. Thus is Nature made, which gives evil to all the goods it gives.”.
In the time of Julius Caesar, many streams crossed this country and its inhabitants lived off hunting but also cattle breeding. The climate was humid and temperate. An important vegetable, because cited by the navigator, pushed there: the LOTON. Its definition would be, according to the site « dicolatin.com » (reference n°16), either an aquatic lotus, a hackberry (tree of several meters) or a sweetclover (forage plant that can reach 120 cm). As the « LOTON » could reach the size of a man, the only translation is the sweetclover. This plant, which grows exclusively in a temperate environment, is at the same time a forage herb, aromatic but also medicinal.
The banizomenes’ country also sheltered an exceptional wild live: lions, leopards, camels, mules, deer, fallow deer, wolves … The big carnivorous animals were a calamity for the men and their cattle whereas the climate of this country was a blessing … A little further north, on the Assyria’s border, in rocky Arabia, there were giraffes: « The animals that we call Camelopardz » (reference n°1, Volume II, page 98). In this ancient book and all those before the nineteenth century, the giraffe was designated either Camelopard (camel spotted) or Cameleopard (camel + leopard). For information, the “leopard” word is also a word composed of 2 other words: leo/lion and pardus/task.
Another witness, the narrative of Artemidore, reported by Strabo (reference n°2), confirms the presence, at least, of lions in the Arabian Peninsula: « The country abounds in elephants and ant-lions: they have the genitalia placed in opposite direction; their color draws on that of gold, and they are less hairy than those of Arabia. » The wording in the text is ambiguous since it could also suggest the presence of elephants.
As for the giraffe, in the Bible (« The Bible, » Deuteronomy 14: 5, reference n°17), it is part of the list of consumable animals enacted by Moses: « These are the animals you will eat: beef, sheep, deer, gazelle, fallow deer, ibex, deer, wild goat and giraffe « . Attention some doubt the translation of the Jewish word « zemer » in the Old Testament because of the absence of a historical reference!!! However, in the Greek and Latin versions, the animal is aptly named camelopard and the translators knew it perfectly. On the other hand, rock engravings attest to the presence of this animal throughout the Arabian Peninsula, from the north (engraving in Sinai and Neguev, reference n°18) to the south (Figure VII.z, reference n°19).
Figure VII.e: frescoes by Deir Al-Bahari (reference n°16, n°17 and n°18)
The presence or absence of exotic animals in the Arabian Peninsula is not insignificant because it calls into question the current location of the Punt’s kingdom. In the nineteenth century, the work of Brugsch (reference n°20) had shown a correlation between Punt and Arabia. Then, with the discovery of the Deir Al-Bahari frescoes, the Egyptologists (whose Brugsch) repositioned this country in the African savannah, in the East of Africa, because of its wildlife (giraffe, panther, leopard, …). With the story of Diodorus the Sicilian, we can question this current location and, even better, conclude that the famous reliefs of Punt are a « photograph » of the banizomenes’ landscape (Figure VII.e, reference n°21, n°22 et n°23).
In this list of wild animals, there is one typical of the Punt fauna: the elephant. In the Deir Al-Bahari fresco, this one is present there by the numerous defenses embarked on the boats. Another time, another Pharaoh, during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (332-282 BC), the Egyptians had to recover war elephants to oppose those aligned by the Mesopotamians. For this, they sent an expedition to the Punt’s kingdom to bring back somes. It should be noted that there are three species divided into two distinct genera. The African Savannah Elephant and the African Forest Elephant, formerly grouped under the same African Elephant species, belong to the genus Loxodonta, while the Asian Elephant, formerly known as the Indian Elephant, belongs to the genus Elephas. Of these three species, that of African savannahs is the most difficult to tame. This is why the war elephants used by North Africans (Egyptians and Carthaginians) have always been those of the forests. Surprising as it may seem, we can say that the Punt’s kingdom could not be located in the current savannah of Africa because of the pachyderms in question.
To refine Punt’s position, one must remember two more stories about elephants. First, at the Battle of Raphia in 217 BC, Ptolemy IV disposes of 73 elephants of the African forests coming from Nubia against 102 elephants of Asia aligned by Antiochos III. Secondly, according to Strabon (reference n°2, page 269), the pharaohs of the Ptolemaic dynasty were going to hunt this animal in the present part of Sudan, at the level of the town of « Ptolemais near the hunting of elephants« . But then, why would Ptolemy I Soter go looking for elephants thousands of miles away while they exist all around the Red Sea? We can therefore say that Punt is not so far away and that the kingdom is north of the latitude of 16 °, north of Nubia and the city of Ptolemais. However the presence of these pachyderms does not allow to affirm if Punt is yes or not along the African coast since there are rock engravings on the Asian coast, as far north Al-Ula (reference n°24) than to the south (reference n°19). And more, according to Diodorus (reference n°1, Book II, page 100), in the time of Julius Caesar, there were still herds of elephants on the oceanic coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
But what did this mysterious kingdom really represent for the pharaohs? To answer this question, it is necessary to exploit the magnificent book of J.H. Breasted: « Ancient Records of Egypt » (reference n°25) of which here the main references on Punt:
–Volume I, Sixth Dynasty, Pepi II, Inscription of Harkhuf, page 159, §351: The dwarf of Harkuf was like to that brought back by Burted from Punt for pharaoh Isesy.
–Volume I, Sixth Dynasty, Pepi II, Inscription of Harkhuf, page 159, §353: The pharaoh Pepi II was more interested in the dwarf than in the gifts reported of Punt and Sinai.
–Volume I, Sixth Dynasty, Pepi II, Inscription of Pepi-Nakht, page 162 et 163, §350 and §360: the body’s repatriation of an Egyptian nobleman killed on the beach north of the Red Sea.
–Volume I, Sixth Dynasty, Pepi II, Inscription in the tomb of Khui, page 164, §361: Khui went eleven times to Punt.
–Volume I, Eleventh Dynasty, Mentuhotep III, Hammamat Inscription of Henu, page 209, §429: a ship toward Punt to bring fresh myrrh.
–Volume I, Twelfth Dynasty, Amenenhet II, Sinaï Inscription in Gasus Wadi, page 275, §604: Khentkhetwer’s return from Punt by Sewew, Sewew et Coptos being the two ends of Gasus wadi.
–Volume II, Eighteenth Dynasty, Thutmose III and Queen, The Punt Reliefs, pages from 102 to 158, from §246 to §378.
–Volume II, Eighteenth Dynasty, Thutmose III, Conspectus of campaigns, page 173, §406: 8th campaign, year 33: The products of Punt were presented at the same as tributes of Naharin, Babylon and Hittites and imposts of Wawat.
–Volume II, Eighteenth Dynasty, Thutmose III, Conspectus of campaigns, page 174, §406: 13th campaign, year 38: The products of Punt were presented at the same as tributes of Syria, Cyprus and d’Arrapakhitis and imposts of Kush and Wawat.
–Volume II, Eighteenth Dynasty, Thutmose III, 13th campaign (year 38), page 209, §506 et §513: The products of Punt brought by Marvels were presented at the same time as tributes of Cyprus and Arrapakhitis et imposts of Kush and Wawat.
–Volume II, Eighteenth Dynasty, Thutmose III, Tomb of Rekhmire, page 289, §746 et 750: Receipt of products from Punt at the same time as the annual tribute of the countries of North and South.
–Volume II, Eighteenth Dynasty, Amenhotep III, Bubastis Inscription, page 339, §848: Nubian war with reference to Punt.
–Volume II, Eighteenth Dynasty, Amenhotep III, Building Inscription, page 360, §890: Hymn of Amon: “When I turn my face to the orient, …, I cause to come to thee to the countries of Punt”.
–Volume III, Nineteenth Dynasty, Harmhab, Graffiti in the theban necropolis, page from 20 to 21, from §37 to §39: Expedition of Harmhab in the south.
–Volume III, Nineteenth Dynasty, Seti I, Karnak Reliefs, page 57, §116: “I turn my face to the east, … I gather together all countries of Punt”.
–Volume III, Nineteenth Dynasty, Seti I, Karnak Reliefs, page 75, §155: The opening of a trade route with Punt while to the north and south, it’s the submission of countries.
–Volume IV, Twentieth Dynasty, Medinet Habu, page 77, §129: The opening of a trade route with Punt while to the north and south, it’s the submission of countries.
–Volume IV, Papyrus Harris, Twentieth Dynasty, Ramses III, page 108 and 203, §181 and §407: The Punt’s countries are before the great sea of the inverted water.
–Volume IV, TwentyFifth Dynasty, Stela of Tanutamon, page 471, §929: Its panel was of cedar incensed with myrrh of Punt.
Attention, we can note that there is, today, deformations on the interpretation of some historical texts: the dwarf reported by Harkhuf did not brought from Pount but from Yam and looked like the one of Burted for the pharaoh Isesy; the lists of Thutmose III do not contain the tributes of the vanquished countries but the presents for a ceremony (including the tributes of the conquered countries, the classical taxes and the products brought back from Punt); Harris’s papyrus does not directly mention the Persian Gulf …
From the Breasted’s work, here are the main remarks we can deduce about Punt:
- Punt is not a country but a kingdom with several countries: the gifts came from several regions including Emu and Ta Netjer (The Punt Reliefs, §265, page 109).
- Punt is inside the Red Sea: according to the Harris papyrus, the kingdom was situated before the great sea with inverted waters. For Breasted, this great sea was the Indian Ocean. As for the inversed waters, it is, for me, a « poetic » definition of the tides. This phenomenon was little known to the ancient Egyptians since the amplitudes in the Mediterranean and in the Red Sea are low. The ancient scribes of Egypt knew these movements of waters only in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.
- Punt is located in the east of Egypt: whenever a direction is mentioned, it’s always East (Hymne of Amon, §892).
- Its northern part is near of Sinai: in addition to the dwarf, Harkhuf had brought gifts from Punt and Sinai.
- Punt was at the south of Egypt: Amenhotep III and Harmhab were at war with this kingdom during their campaigns in the south.
What conclusions can we deduce? As the expedition of Queen Hatshepsut (15th century BC) left from Coptos and then wadi Hammami to reach the sea, the East’s direction could be only the eastern shore of the Red Sea. On the other hand, the kingdom of Punt was just at south of Sinai since their gifts had been presented together to Pharaoh Pepi II. To respect all these conditions, the kingdom of Punt can only be that of the Arabs, the Arabian Peninsula being in the East of Egypt and the countries of banizomenes and Sinai being on each side of the Gulf of Aqaba…
This theory of an Arab kingdom is the most coherent of all those advanced. In the book « Mysterious lands » (see reference n°26), Professor Meeks details the main reasons for asserting that Punt and Arabia are one and the same entity. However, this theory has weaknesses, mainly on African references. For the professor, these do not exist because they are misinterpretations: – people of African appearance on the frescos of Deir-al-Bahari are slaves; – the flooding of the Nile described in the stele of Defenneh would rather be a rain; – the name of Punt on the list of Ptolemy of the countries in the south of Egypt should be rather associated with the countries of the north …
Figure VII.f: Egypt’s map according to Ptolemy (reference 8)
Unlike D. Meeks, I think there is too much reference to an African country of Punt to exclude this possibility. And the answer is in the book of Ptolemy, especially the Egypt’s map (Figure VII.f). Along the western shore of the Red Sea, there is a people called « Arab egypti ». Then, further south, there is an independent or autonomous country peopled with Arabic « adei ». This country was located between the Red Sea and the Nile and between the first two cataracts of the river. With this Arab land in Africa, all African references on Punt become coherent: a heavy rain beyond the first cataract can cause a consequent flooding of the Nile; during the military campaigns, Punt could be in direct conflict with the Pharaoh because of his African lands; on the frescoes of Deir Al-Bahari, the represented Africans could be the leaders of the country adei …
Figure VII.g: Tilapia a freshwater fish from Punt (reference n°21)
After defining the kingdom of Punt and its geography, which Arab country could be represented on the frescoes of Der Al-Bahari? It should be noted that the Egyptians were not great sailors and did not dare to face the Indian Ocean with its impressive tides. Logically, this country had to be inside the Red Sea. On the other hand, we can say that this country was supplied by a powerful river for at least two reasons: 1 – Among the fishes drawn, there are freshwater species including tilapia (see reference n°21, n°22 and n°23, figure VII.g); 2 – dwellings are huts on pile to protect themselves from flooding.
Figure VII.h: List of flood zones around the Red Sea (Google source)
From the current topography, we can therefore deduce five flooding zones around the Red Sea (figure VII.h):
1 – In the middle of the western seashore of the Red Sea: Addei’s country with Hudayn’s wadi (then wadis of Figu and Hudayn);
2 – South of the western seashores of the Red Sea, on the Eritrea’s border: Baraka (then khor of Langeb and Anseba);
3 – North of the eastern seashore of the Red Sea: banizomènes’ cuntry with al Hamd wadi (then Wadis of Al Ays, Al Aqq, Malal, al Jazzi and al Ghamrah);
4 – In the middle of the eastern seashore of the Red Sea: Charmutha with Fatimah wadi;
5 – South of the eastern seashore of the Red Sea: Pudni’s country with wadis of Jizan and Sabya.
Figure VII.i: One-horned rhinoceros of the Deir Al-Bahari fresco (see reference n°27)
Figure VII.j: Rhinoceros from the Big Hunt at Villa Casame in Sicily (see reference n°25)
Figure VII.k: Rhinoceros with one horn from Amon’s temple (« The rhinoceros is a unicorn in Egypt », see reference n°27)
Quickly, we can exclude the second possibility because there is a linguistic border. Beyond the adei’s country, the dried rivers are called « Khor » instead of « wadi » for the Arabs. As for the first possibility, we could exclude it because the only engravings of the elephants mounted by mahouts were observed on the Asian part (reference n ° 19) but representation’s absence is not a proof of the incapacity Africans to tame this animal. We could also note that the rhinoceros depicted on the frescoes of Deir Al-Bahari has only one horn and that this species only exists on the Asian continent. There are, however, many representations of this animal outside its present geographical area: the rock carvings in the Sahara, the rhinoceros offered to the king of Babylon, the mosaic of the Great Hunt (Villa Casale, Italy, figure VII. h), the egyptian engraving of the Amon temple which would be a Nubians’ gift (figure VII.i), the rhinoceros of Diodorus (« above the nostrils it carries a low horn », reference n ° 1, Chapter XVI, page 123) … Personally, I would exclude this solution for two other reasons: firstly, the Hatshepsut expedition did not need to go there by boat because it was enough to pass the first cataract; secondly, the royal couple lived mainly in the side of the Arabian Peninsula …
Figure VII.l: rock engraving of a mahout with its elephant (see reference n°19)
To determine the most likely solution of the remaining three, the Punt’s wildlife can’t longer be an indicator. Other clues, that can provide relevant answers, need to be used. And all of these remarks suggest that the Banizomenes’ country is that represented on the frescoes of Deir Al-Bahari:
1 – during the expedition for Queen Hatshepsut, the boats took the direction of the god land (Punt reliefs, page 106, §253) and this direction is often associated with the East. A longitudinal crossing of the Red Sea leads south of the banizomenes’ beach;
2 – According to Diodorus, south of this beach, on one of three islands, there were columns to the glory of ISIS and this goddess was often confused with HATHOR, nicknamed the Queen of Punt. Here, there was surely a temple dedicated to the goddesses Isis and/or Hathor.
3 – the banizomenes’ country possessed the most sacred temple of the Arabs. The king being the God’s representative on Earth, the royal couple could not live anywhere else of this sacred place;
4 – In Al-Ula, the Franciscans had dug up a statue that looked like an Egyptian (reference 25). Dayton had noticed an Egyptian-inspired elephant engraving (reference 26). The Egyptian style predominated in this region and could show the existence of a strong cultural link between Egypt and this country.
In conclusion, the desertification that has dried up the river has had catastrophic impacts on all the coastal countries of the Red Sea. The frescoes of Deir Al-Bahari, being a « photograph » of the beautiful landscape during the period of the pharaohs, give evidence to the disappearance of an environment conducive to wildlife and humans societies. And among these countries, there was that of banizomenes which was temperate and pleasant until the time of Julius Caesar. To understand the end of Charmutha, we must look for the origin of this climate change. The following study will provide explanations for the disappearance of one of the famous ports of antiquity.
Nota Bene: On January 17, 2017, Macron and his henchmen voluntarily chose to massacre innocents by rejecting the transfer of the airport to Notre-Dame-Des-Landes, since the noise and the pollution of the planes KILLS … Many scientific studies have demonstrated the correlation between mortality and the presence of aircraft (+ 100% for pre-fetal and cardiac mortality, …). To kill men or women in a democracy is possible only for health reasons (for example the vaccine), ecological or economic … To not transfer the airport will not reduce the number of deaths; on the contrary, 50,000 people will be in the death corridor… To not transfer is not going to save weak species; on the contrary, the exceptional birds of the second nature reserve of France will be exposed to the planes’ stress… To not transfer the airport will not reduce the risks of accident; on the contrary, the risk of collision between aircraft and birds will increase with risk of major accident … To not transfer the airport will not economize; on the contrary, it will waste the budget of a dozen airports (repay to Vinci, destroy and rebuild Bouguenais’ aerodrome, soundproof 50,000 homes, …). In short, Macron and his henchmen have no reason to murder honest citizens. Mass killing is called a crime against humanity. We, the people of Nantes, demand the indictment of all those psychopaths who kill men and women for their personal well-being.
Charmutha , Becius : Summary :
1 – The old stories of Charmutha
2 – The coastline of Charmutha
3 – The old maps of Ptolemy
4 – the Tropic of Cancer
5 – Charmutha waterfalls
6 – Becius, the disapperead river
7 – The Punt Kingdom and its countries
8 – Arabia Felix and the climatic change.
9 – The Quersonnesse of CharmuthaTo following.
10 – The Cothone of Charmutha
11 – The Acropolis of Charmutha
12 – The divine country
1 – « Les Trois premiers livres de l’histoire de Diodore Sicilien, historiographe grec » de Anthoine Macault en 1541 :
2 – « Géographie de Strabon. » par François Jean Gabriel de L Porte Du Theil en 1819 :
3 – «The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian »
4 – Le catalogue du site “Ancien Ports Antiques” :
5 – Photos satellites à partir du site « google-maps.pro » :
6 – Topographie de la zone à partir du site « fr-fr.topographic-map.com » :
7 – Anciens témoignages sur les arabes :
8 – « Cosmographia » de Ptolémée aux alentours du 2ème siècle :
9 – « Les dieux de l’Égypte : Que sais-je », n°1194
10 – « Inclinaison de l’axe terrestre » : Wikipedia
11 – « La Bible » : Génèse 2, 8-14
12 – « la Mer Rouge » : Wikipedia
13 – « le périple de la mer Erythréenne » :
14 – « Description de l’Univers, Tome II, Asie Ancienne et Moderne » par Allain Manesson Mallet :
15 – « Le monnayage islamique des origines à l’époque ottomane : éléments historiques » :
16 – Traduction de LOTON par le site Dicolatin.fr :
17 – « La Bible », deutéronome 14:5 :
18 – « The shipwrecked sailor again », göttinger miszellen 24, 1977, p.94
19 – « La faune dans la roche » de Hervé Monchot, Charliy Polaikoff, Route de l’Orient, Hors-Serie 2016, p74-93 :
20 – « Les papyrus hiératiques de Berlin » de François Joseph Chabas :
21 – « Seagoing Ships & Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant » de Shelley Wachsmann
22 – « The temple of Deir el Bahari » par Edouard Naville :
23 – « The XIth dynasty temple at Deir el-Bahari » par Edouard Naville :
24 – « The lost elephants of Arabia » de Dayton, Antiquity, Volume 42, Issue 165, Mars 1968, pp 42-45 :
25 – « Ancient Records of Egypt » de J.H. Breasted :
26 – « Mysterious lands » de O’Connors :
25 – « Villa Casale », mosaïque de la Chasse :
26 – « Le rhinoceros est une licorne en égypte » de Nicolas Manlius :
27 – « Rhinocéros et la licorne » du magazine Pharaon :
30 – « La mission en Arabie des pères A. Jaussen et R. Savignac » de Maurice Sartre, 1996 :
31 – « The lost elephants of Arabia » de Dayton, Antiquity, Volume 42, Issue 165, Mars 1968, pp 42-45 :