The Library of History

Page 105

Page 105 The Promontory that shoots out towards this Island, lies over against Petra in Arabia and Palestine. It's said that the Gerrheans and Mineans, bring out of the higher Arabia, Frankincense and other odoriferous Gums into this Island.

The Coast next adjoining, has been anciently inhabited by the Marranians, and afterwards by the Garyndaneans their Neighbours, who got possession in this manner.

At the Festival celebrated every Fifth Year in the Palm Country, a great Concourse of the Neighbours meet together from all Parts; both to Sacrifice Stallfed Camels to the Gods of the Grove; and likewise to carry some of the Spring-water that rises there, back into their own Country, which they say is Physical.

The Garyndanians taking the opportunity when the Marranians were gone to the Feast, cut the Throats of all those that remain'd at Home, and lay in wait for those that return'd, and in their way homeward, slew all them likewise; and so the Country being by this means depopulated, they divided that fruitful Region, and those rich Pastures for Flocks and Herds, by Lot amongst themselves.

But this Coast has very few Harbours in it by reason of the many vast Mountains that lye all along as they sail; from whence is presented to the view, such variety of Colours, that they afford a most wonderful and delightful Prospect to the Passengers at Sea as they sail along.

The Promontory of Alainites next salutes them that sail on forward, full of Towns and Villages inhabited by the Arabians call'd Nabateans: They possess a large Country all along the Sea-Coast, and go far likewise up into the Land: This Tract is very Populous, and exceeding rich in Cattel. Once they liv'd justly and honestly, content with the Sustenance they had from their Flocks and Herds; but after that the Kings of Alexandria allow'd liberty to Merchants to traffick in the Red Sea, they not only rob'd them that were Shipwrackt, but provided little Skiffs, and acted the Pyrats, and spoil'd all other Merchants that traffickt in those Seas, imitating the Taurians of Pontus in cruelty and inhumanity. But afterwards being beaten in a Fight at Sea by some Gallies sent out against them, they were punish'd according to their Demerits.

After the passing of these Tracts, follows a flat Champain Country, water'd in every part, which (by the advantage of the many Springs and Fountains that are in it) abounds in rich Pastures, and produces great plenty of Medica and Lotus, as high as a Man. Here in these Pastures are fed not only an infinite number of Cattel of all sorts, but of wild Camels, Harts, Red and Fallow Deer. This extraordinary Plenty, invites out of the Deserts, Lions, Wolves and Leopards, with whom the Shepherds and Herdsmen are forc'd to have Conflicts Night and Day for the preservation of their Flocks and Herds: And thus the richness of the Countrey, occasions Mischief and Prejudice. For Nature often distributes her Gifts with a mixture of good and evil.

In sailing further along by this Champain Country, the Gulf offers to the view something strange and wonderful: For it shoots up with a bending Course into the Inland Parts, Five Hundred Furlongs in length, wall'd in on both sides with high and steep Rocks, so that both the Entrance and Passage is very difficult. For the Rocks that lye under Water, so stop up the Entrance, that it's scarce possible to enter into the Gulf, or come out; and by the continual dashing of the Floods with the violence of the Winds beating upon the Shoar, it foams terribly, and rages on every side the Rock.

The People that inhabit these Parts, are call'd Bizomenians, and live upon wild Beasts taken in hunting. Here's a Sacred Temple in high veneration among all the Arabians.

To the Shoar of these Tracts, are adjoining Three Islands, which have many Ports: The first which is Desert, they say is consecrated to Isis. There remain the Foundations of the ancient Buildings and Pillars, whereon are Inscriptions in barbarous Characters; the rest are as much defac'd and ruin'd, yet they are shaded with Olive Trees planted here and there, much different from ours.

Beyond these Islands, there are steep Rocks hard to pass all along the Shoar, for the space of a Thousand Furlongs. For there's neither Port nor Ancorage for Ships, nor any Wood which can afford any necessary Relief to Mariners, be they in never so great wants and extremities. To this Shoar adjoins a Mountain

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books