Berenice Panchrysos – Al-Allaqi–Deraheib: Archaeological Reality in the Light of Historical Geography

Bukharin Mikhail D., Krol Alexey A.

The unique mention of Berenice Panchrysos by Pliny the Elder (VI. 170) is connected in recent archaeological literature with the site of Deraheib in Wadi al-Allaqi – the center of gold mining and trade in the Nubian Desert. The text of Pliny’s Natural History, however, indicates the location of Berenice Panchrysos on the coast of the Red Sea, rather than inland, and this epithet could be compared with the description of Sabai – the capital of the “Sabaeans”, inhabitants of ŚWM in Southern Arabia, given by Agatharchides of Cnidos. Sabai is described by Agatharchides in the same way as South Arabia in general as an ideal land of full material prosperity. In the same way it is necessary to consider the mention of Berenice Panchrysos. It could have received its denomination “all-golden” from Sabai – South Arabian city ŚWM: in the descriptions of Sabai, gold is the dominant motive emphasizing exclusive richness of the extreme South of Arabia. In this regard, the identification of Berenice Panchrysos and Berenice-near-Sabai looks quite possible. These two place-names could also be hypothetically identified with Berenice-epi-Dires, which seems to reflect the tradition on the foundation of one city (Berenice) at the exit from the Red Sea, which came to be known under three different epithets.

Keywords: classical geographical tradition, Red Sea, Southern Arabia, Nubia, Wadi al-Allaqi, Deraheib, Ptolemaic Egypt, gold mining

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