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Geography of Ancient Near East

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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Geography of Ancient Near East
    Posted: 09-Sep-2006 at 14:21
Hi,
 
again I swim to the surface with a Geography topic. But the reason will be known to you all shortly, I just need information from as many sources as I can get.
 
I know that the true science of geography hadn't yet developed, although the Sassanid Empire and it's successors had many great scholars, although it is already out of our time period. So I would begin:
 
1) The Sumerians, being great in Astronomy and Astrology, did they excess in knowing the lands too? Did they make maps or plans of their empires? Did they chart the routes of the Eufrates and the Tigris?
 
2) Assyrians and Babylonians had large empires, but did they conquer their neighbours by means of rumours or already known facts that there were those lands or by random events?
 
3) How large was the Hittite Empire in general, and what were it's connections to the sea routes on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea?
 
4) How far did the Pheonicians go on their trips? Did they draw or chart any maps of the world?
 
5) Were there any connections to the northern steppes, Chinese civilzations, Indian civilizations, Thrace, Hellas (Greece) or to the Arabian Peninsula's southern part? 
 
6) How much did these civilizations use the following naval places in their trade and war relations: the Persian Gulf, Tigris, Eufrates, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, the Dead Sea?
 
 
Thanks for anyone who replies,
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  Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2006 at 14:59

Very good questions!  I don't have the energy to put in much of a contribution.  But I will add that the Assyrian Empire was very real!  It is said that Tehran was founded by them, the name apparently derived from haven or sanctuary.

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  Quote Herschel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2006 at 17:14
I never knew that the Assyrians went East through the Zagros mountain range in their military conquests. Shocked I thought that most of their territory went South through Babylonia, West through Syria, and SouthWest through Egypt.

While on this topic, didn't the Assyrians create maps using clay bricks. Evidently, they didn't use N-S-E-W directions, but created a web chart surrounding their own territories. (<--does that make sense? I don't think I can explain it that easily, sorry.)
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  Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2006 at 20:39
Well, although officially their borders never ranged that far, it was probably just an outpost during their various campaigns and slave hunting missions.
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  Quote Sharrukin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2006 at 03:08
1) The Sumerians, being great in Astronomy and Astrology, did they excess in knowing the lands too? Did they make maps or plans of their empires? Did they chart the routes of the Eufrates and the Tigris?
 
The Sumerians were great explorers as well.  The south of Mesopotamia was poor in many resources, hence the Sumerians had to come out from their home cities into the greater part of the Middle East in order to find the resources necessary (or desired) for their civilization.  They actually built emporiums in some non-native cities as well as even building garrisons in regions in order to controll the resources in those regions. 
 
We do have primitive maps of Babylonia.  While we don't have maps dating from Sumerian times, we do have descriptions of locations of various places.  The implication is that the Sumerians probably did use maps.
 
The Sumerians almost certainly charted both the Tigris and Euphrates.  By the time of Sargon of Akkad, he already knew where the other powerful cities were on the Euphrates.  According to his own inscriptions, he followed the course of the Euphrates conquering the great cities of Mari and Ebla, powers in the their own right, who possessed the trade routes of northern Mesopotamia including the Euphrates trade route.
 
2) Assyrians and Babylonians had large empires, but did they conquer their neighbours by means of rumours or already known facts that there were those lands or by random events?
 
The Assyrians conquered at first knowing who their neighbors were, but later through either their own intelligence network or through their conquered neighbors, conquered those distant lands.
 
3) How large was the Hittite Empire in general, and what were it's connections to the sea routes on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea?
 
The Hittite Empire at its greatest extent, extended from the Aegean in the west (Arzawa) to a little beyond the Euphrates in the east (Mitanni), from a point on the Black Sea in the north (Pala) to northern Syria in the south (Qadesh).
 
The Black Sea connection has already been answered.  On the Mediterranean, the Hittites had possession of Cilicia (Kizzuwadna) and northern Phoenicia (Ugarit). 
 
4) How far did the Pheonicians go on their trips? Did they draw or chart any maps of the world?
 
According to both Egyptian and Biblical sources, the Phoenicians circumnavigated around Africa.  Both sources described such an enterprise as taking three years to make, with stops on various African ports and other landings.
 
5) Were there any connections to the northern steppes, Chinese civilzations, Indian civilizations, Thrace, Hellas (Greece) or to the Arabian Peninsula's southern part?
 
No for the steppes, and the Far East.  We know that the Sumerians traded with the Indus Valley Civ. (Indus artefacts have been found in Mesopotamia).  The most modern theory identifies the Indus Civ. with the term Meluhha.  We know of a trade route between Thrace and Anatolia.  The Hittites had friendly (and not so friendly) relations with the Greeks.  The Arabian peninsula was known for trade in incense and other rarities.  The earliest Arabian civs (Dilmun and Magan) already had trading relations with the Sumerians.   We are not aware of trade with Yemen until the 1st millennium BC.
 
6) How much did these civilizations use the following naval places in their trade and war relations: the Persian Gulf,....
 
all the time.
 
Tigris....
 
All the time.
 
Eufrates....
 
All the time.
 
the Caspian Sea....
 
poorly documented
 
the Black Sea....
 
poorly documented
 
the Mediterranean Sea....
 
poorly documented until classical times
 
the Red Sea....
 
all the time
 
[quote]the Arabian Gulf, the Dead Sea?
 
isn't the "Arabian Gulf" the same as the Persian Gulf?
 
there is poor documentation for the Dead Sea.
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2006 at 09:01
Thanks. In Estonia we use the term Arabian Gulf or Sea for the sea between Hindustani and Arabian peninsulas.

I am sure you have more to say, these questionswere just some more important isues in my mind,

Did anyone in Middle East sail downwards on the eastern african shores?
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  Quote Sharrukin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2006 at 12:31
Did anyone in Middle East sail downwards on the eastern african shores?
 
Yes, the Phoenicians.  According to the Bible, Solomon employed the Phoenicians to built for him "Tarshish ships" from a port at Elath on the southern limit of Edom to make the trip around Africa.
 
According to Herodotus, the Phoenicians built for pharoah Necho a fleet to sail down the Red Sea along the African coast to go around Africa as well.
 
Even much earlier, the Egyptians were ordered by Hapshepsut, queen of Egypt to sail the Punt.  While it remains a mystery where Punt actually is, it was probably beyong the Red Sea.  A port in eastern Africa may not be far from the truth.
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2006 at 14:03
Yes, I saw two names of Egyptian explorers, some Hannu and Nehsi who travelled too to Punt. Maybe Yemen? Isn't it possible?

So the Pheonicians circled round Africa both ways? MAybe they went to Madagascar too, isn't it possible? Did they settle themselves anywhere specifically on the African coasts?

I heard Hanno the Carthaginian refounded 7 cities, what could they have been? And how far did the Pheonician rule actually extend?

Did the Phoenicians travel to India or Indonesia as well?

What were the Phoenician ships like, or why did they become such great sea-faring peoples?
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  Quote Sharrukin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Sep-2006 at 01:14
Yes, I saw two names of Egyptian explorers, some Hannu and Nehsi who travelled too to Punt. Maybe Yemen? Isn't it possible?
 
It would not be impossible.  The problem is the identification of Punt.

So the Pheonicians circled round Africa both ways?
 
The curious thing is that we only know of only one way they did that - from east to west.  It shouldn't be impossible that they sailed both ways.
 
MAybe they went to Madagascar too, isn't it possible?
 
It should be possible.  The problem is that we don't have documentary evidence of it. 
 
Did they settle themselves anywhere specifically on the African coasts?
 
Unknown.  There is no documentary evidence to show that they did. 

I heard Hanno the Carthaginian refounded 7 cities, what could they have been?
 
They were locales between the African coast opposite Cadiz and the wadi Loukkos which was the classical Lixus (or the greater length of coastal Morocco).  Of the seven names mentioned the first, Thymiaterion, can be identified with Tangier.  The third, Gutte could be Ras Achakar.   
 
And how far did the Pheonician rule actually extend?
 
Probably no more than the length of the Mediterranean, where Greek influence was weak.  This state of affairs lasted until the Babylonians took Tyre by about 580 BC.  This left the colonies to fend for themselves, but by about 550 BC, Carthage became the leading Phoenician colony to succeed in pulling together the other Phoenician colonies in a form of merchantile empire.

Did the Phoenicians travel to India or Indonesia as well?
 
Again, unknown.  The biblical account (I Kings 9:28) as to where the "Tarshish ships" went included a place called Ophir.  Some place it in India because of the reference to there being much gold there, although the reference could have been to other places.

What were the Phoenician ships like, or why did they become such great sea-faring peoples?
 
 
 
 
 
 
http://www.btinternet.com/~k.trethewey/AncientLights/Images/PhoenicianShip1A.jpg">http://hometown.aol.com/ksmith9526/PhoenicianShip.gif[/quote]
 
http://www.btinternet.com/~k.trethewey/AncientLights/Images/PhoenicianShip1A.jpg
 
 
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  Quote Vivek Sharma Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Sep-2006 at 02:42
In ancient Indian myths there is a story of the Asurs or the demons tribe being defeated by the Devs (the gods) & being driven away to some place where they founded a great & strong empire that rivalled the empire of the Devs (Gods) & also defeated it manytimes.

Some people say the Assriyans are these Asurs who migrated westwards.
This is further bolstered by the fact that the Mittanis,/ Hurrian / subari one of the major people in this region had followed Indian religion. It is these people who introduced the war chariots to the mid east.


I had read in some site that the source of nile was discovered using a map from one of the ancient Indian mythological puranas.

The ancient Indians founded colonies in the far east & traded extensively with the whole of the known world as far as Polynesia.
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Sep-2006 at 15:07
Great. Thanks to you both,

documentary evidence?


no archeological finds either? These can be much harder to find (feet in dirt) but also much more valuable than some authors.

Probably no more than the length of the Mediterranean, where Greek influence was weak.


But they traded with Britain too? Did they have permanent settlers there (hard of course to find evidence to) or did they prefer to go there and return immediately?

What would you indentify Punt as? Does it have a etnographical background to something?

Originally posted by VK

I had read in some site that the source of nile was discovered using a map from one of the ancient Indian mythological puranas.


Was it a reliable site or some foolishness?

Originally posted by VK

The ancient Indians founded colonies in the far east & traded extensively with the whole of the known world as far as Polynesia.


Could you tell us more?
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  Quote Sharrukin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Sep-2006 at 18:46
documentary evidence?


no archeological finds either? These can be much harder to find (feet in dirt) but also much more valuable than some authors.
 
It should be more accurate to say that the Phoenicians only colonized parts of the coast of northern Africa (of which there is much archaeological evidence), however there is no physical evidence (to date) of them settling any other part of Africa.
 
Probably no more than the length of the Mediterranean, where Greek influence was weak.


But they traded with Britain too? Did they have permanent settlers there (hard of course to find evidence to) or did they prefer to go there and return immediately?
 
Apparently the Phoenicians did not want to make permanent settlements beyond the Mediterranaean.  It was enough that they controlled the routes (especially) of the western Mediterranean, to give them unrivalled access to ports in western Europe including the British isles.

What would you indentify Punt as?
 
According to the inscriptions of the Egyptian queen Hatshepsut, I would venture to say that it was relatively close by.  The Somali coast, as some scholars have conjectured would probably be a good guess.
 
Does it have a etnographical background to something?
 
The Egyptian hieroglyphs only denoted it as a land-name.  If it does have an ethnological significence, we are completely ignorant of it.
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Sep-2006 at 12:55
Phoenicians only colonized parts of the coast of northern Africa (of which there is much archaeological evidence),


Interesting, what for example? Pottery or wood from those areas?

Egyptian hieroglyphs only denoted it as a land-name


If it is a land name, it should be easier to find it. So, aren't there any descriptions by other nearby civilizations for a place such as this (not even by name, but by the goods traded there perhaps?), the Etiopians and Assyrians being two guesses I can think of.
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  Quote Sharrukin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Sep-2006 at 00:26
Interesting, what for example? Pottery or wood from those areas?
 
Yes, as well as other grave goods, tombs, remains of towns, inscriptions, sculptures, idols, and many other kinds of artefacts.
 
If it is a land name, it should be easier to find it.
 
Not necessarily.  There are many Egyptian 'land-names' which are still unknown to us, because we cannot match them with any internal description or correspondence with place-names known by other civilizations.  Some unknown place-names can be generally located due to a study of their etymology, but in the case of Punt (alternatively, known as Pwenet), it has the Egyptian etymology of "land of the god".
 
So, aren't there any descriptions by other nearby civilizations for a place such as this (not even by name, but by the goods traded there perhaps?), the Etiopians and Assyrians being two guesses I can think of.
 
There are no such matches.  The only hints we have are the items which were acquired from Punt.  These included gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves, monkeys (including baboons), and possibly pygmies.  This points to anywhere in southern Sudan or the Eritrean region of Ethiopia or further south. 
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  Quote Vivek Sharma Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Sep-2006 at 04:12
Punt refers to India. Aryavart was the name of Indian geographical location which was populated by the Devs (gods) as opposed to the region of Asurs (demons) Aryavart is a sanskrit word meaning the land of Aryas (Aryan in western languages). Arya means a noble. This fight between the ASURs (demons) & the DEVs / DEVTAs (Gods) is a continuous feature of Indian culture.

Punt also means the land of gods. It is also mentioned in egyptian chronicles that Punt came after a big sea. That is why royal expeditions were organised for going there. There are mentions that traders from the Punt also traded extensively with The civilization to the north of mediterrenean. The produce they bought are said to include spices, incense, cloth, ivory, gold, all being items which were the major export from India as has also been brought out by the Romans & Greeks.

Ancient Indian leterature has mentions tradition of trading with countries beyond the red sea. Indians knew it as the sea of iron. There is also mention of land after madagascar (Africa) & on proceeding into that land, another sea comes, surrounded by land (lake victoria - origin of nile)
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  Quote Sharrukin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Sep-2006 at 09:35
Punt also means the land of gods. It is also mentioned in egyptian chronicles that Punt came after a big sea.
 
While it is true that Punt was reached by sea, the Egyptian evidence also described land routes as well.  Punt was reached both ways.  This points to a location in Africa.
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  Quote Vivek Sharma Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Sep-2006 at 03:00
Ancient egyptians spoke of themselves having come from the land of punt which acordin to them was very advaanced. Which place in Africa had an advanced civilzation. Which place would be able to export spices & cloth, sweet timberwood amongst others.
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  Quote Vivek Sharma Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Sep-2006 at 03:03
Originally posted by rider

Phoenicians only colonized parts of the coast of northern Africa (of which there is much archaeological evidence),


Interesting, what for example? Pottery or wood from those areas?

Egyptian hieroglyphs only denoted it as a land-name


If it is a land name, it should be easier to find it. So, aren't there any descriptions by other nearby civilizations for a place such as this (not even by name, but by the goods traded there perhaps?), the Etiopians and Assyrians being two guesses I can think of.


Phonecians & asurs (assryians) were next door neighbours of egypt. Why does their queen need to organise a special expedition to find these lands, with a fleet of five ships when they were neighbours next door.
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Sep-2006 at 14:16
I would rather go along the lines of Sharrukin, saying that a land expedition to India would have been nonsense.
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  Quote Vivek Sharma Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Sep-2006 at 00:37
Yes, thats it. They traded by sea. The Egyptian name for egypt was Khem, their reigning diety was Khem, Khem is a common word in india, having the same meaning. Not even a slight pronounciation difference. How come ?
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