are always warmly welcome -

12 November 2005

A New Proposed Nabatean Trade Route

Dan Gibson:
In his translation of the Xiyu juan, or "Chapter on the Western Regions" from the Hou Han shu, John Hill proposes in his notes (nos. 12.21 and 12.24) that a trade route used to exist between Petra and Wadi Sirhan to the east. Such a trade route would cross the desert to link Petra directly with Jauf, and subsequently to the trade routes that ran east from there to Gerrha or to the ports at the head of the Persian Gulf. This proposed trade route would have provided a direct link between Gerrha and the more northern ports such as Charax Spasinu on the Persian Gulf, and Gaza and Rhinocorura (modern al-'Arish) on the Mediterranean Sea...
... based on Chinese records, John Hill has suggested that a trade route existed between Petra in the west and Gerrha in the East. The part of the route that ran east from Petra to Ail, and then to Ma'an and finally to Jafr is quite acceptable, and follows a natural course of travel between these centers. There is also enough water along this route for major camel caravans to pass. The problem with the suggested route was getting a caravan from Jafr to a spot with water in Wadi Sirhan. Since camels require about 80 - 100 liters of water each, a small caravan of 100 camels would require 8000 - 10,000 liters of water. There had to be a watering point between Jafr and Wadi Sirhan with a minimum of 10,000 liters and, preferably, much more...
nabatean trade route

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