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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume VI by Robert Kerr

Part 7 out of 11

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and to seawards of which, over against certain islands called the Seven
Sisters, there is a very dangerous rock as I was told by the Moorish
pilots; so that the safe navigations in this part is to go between the
shoal and the land, and in no case to pass to seawards of the shoal. At
night we came to anchor in a haven named _Sarbo_, or _Sorbo_, in 9-1/2
fathoms water; having all this day seen many little islands close to the
coast. On the 1st of February I landed at the port in this island of
_Sarbo_ taking the pilot and master along with me, that we might all
three take the altitude of the sun. At its greatest height it was scarce
71 deg. above the horizon, and the declination of that day being 13 deg. 56',
the latitude was 15 deg. 7' N. About 24 leagues short of Massua, and 4
leagues from the Abyssinian coast, in lat. 15 deg. N. there is a great
cluster or archipelago of islands, some of which hardly rise above the
surface of the sea, while others are so lofty that they seem to touch
the clouds; and between these there are so many bays, ports, and
harbours, that no wind can annoy us. All of these islands want water,
except one very high island, called _Whale_ Island by the Portuguese,
because it very much resembles one, in which there is water and plenty
of cattle, with a large haven in which ships may winter. Of all these
islands, that which is most out to sea is called in Arabic _Sarbo_,
where we now lay at anchor. The island of Sarbo is about a league in
length and half a league broad, all low land with many low barren trees,
and covered with grass. In every place we found the marks of men and
cattle, but we only saw one camel, for which reason our men called it
the Island of the Camel. Though we sought the whole island with much
diligence we could find no water, except in one well dug in a stone
which seemed intended to contain rain water. Between these islands there
are numerous arms of the sea, reaches, and channels. At sunrise on the
4th of February, we set sail from the port of _Sarbo_. February 7th we
sailed along many islands about three or four leagues distant from the
main land, most of them very low, almost even with the sea. We passed to
seaward of them all about a league, and about even-song time, we saw to
seawards of us a very long range of islands about 5 leagues in extent
and about four leagues from us, which lay N.W. and S.W. as far as I
could discern. The coast all this day trended N.W. and by W. and S.E.
and by E. so that the channel in which we sailed this day was about 5
leagues broad. The greatest part of this day I caused the lead to be
constantly thrown, always having 25 fathoms on an ouze bottom.

Two hours after sunrise on the 8th of February we set sail, steering
mostly to the N.W. and at sunset we were nearly entered into the channel
between that point of _Dallac_ which looks to the continent, and an
island called _Shamoa_[275]. But as night was coming on, and many of the
galleons were far astern, so that it might be difficult for them to hit
the channel, and as besides the wind was now scarce, we took in our
sails, and with our foresails only _we went rummore_[276], sailing to
the south-east, and two hours after night-fall we cast anchor in 40
fathoms water the ground ouzing. All this day we saw many islands along
the coast, so low and flat that they seemed to have no surface above
water. The coast stretched N.W. and S.E. to a low point which is as far
forward as the island of _Dallac_. On doubling this point, a great bay
or creek penetrates ten or twelve leagues into the land.

[Footnote 275: In Purchas these two last mentioned places are named
Dalaqua and Xamea, the Portuguese expressing our _k_ by _qu_, and our
_sh_ by _x_; but we have preferred the more ordinary mode of spelling in
modern geography.--E.]

[Footnote 276: This expression is absolutely unintelligible, but in the
context the ship is said to have returned to the south-east. It is used
on a subsequent occasion apparently in the same sense, and perhaps means
beating to windwards or drifting to leeward.--E.]

The Island of Dallac is very low land, almost level with the sea, having
no mountain or any other height. In the common opinion it is 25 leagues
long by 12 in breadth. The side of the island opposite to the south
stretches E.S.E. and W.N.W. being all the coast which I could see, and
along the coast lay great numbers of little islands, all very low, and
having the same direction with the coast. I only went along this coast
of the island seven leagues, at two leagues from the land, and though
the lead was often cast I never found ground. The metropolitan city or
chief town is situated almost on the point of the island which lieth on
the west side, and is a frontier to Abyssinia. It is called _Dallaca_,
whence the island took its name. _Dallac_, in the Arabic language
signifies _ten lacs_, because in former times the custom-house of this
city yielded that sum yearly to the king. Every Arabian _lac_ is 10,000
Xerephines; so that _ten lacs_ are worth 40,000 crusadoes[277]. The west
point of the island, opposite to Abyssinia, is distant from the
continent about 6 or 7 leagues, and in this space there are five very
flat islands. The first of these, one league from the point, called
_Shamoa_, is two leagues in circuit, and contains some springs and
wells. Between this island of _Shamoa_ and the western point of Dallac,
is the principal and most frequented channel for going to _Massua_. In
this channel the water is 70 fathoms deep. The land of this island is
red, and produces few trees, but plenty of grass. The king of it and all
his people are Moors. He resides most part of the year at Massua,
because of the trade which he carries on with the Abyssinians. At
present this island and Dallac yields very little profit; for since the
rise of Suakem, Massua, Aden, and Jiddah, it has lost its trade and

[Footnote 277: A Xerephine being 3s. 9d., a lac is L.1875 sterling, and
ten lacs are consequently L.18,750.--E.]

The 12th of February the whole of our fleet came into the harbour of
Massua. Massua is a small island very low and flat, in which anciently
stood the city of _Ptolomaida of the wild beasts_. This island is in
length about the fifth part of a league, and a caliver-shot in breadth,
being situated in a large crooked nook or bay of the sea, and near the
north-west head-land of the bay. The channel which divides it from the
main land is about a falcon-shot across, and in some parts not so much,
in which channel the harbour is situated, which is safe in all weathers,
as all the winds that blow must come over the land, and it has not much
current. The depth of water is eight or nine fathom with an ouze bottom.
The proper entrance into this port is on the north-east by the middle of
the channel, between the island and the main; because from the point
which runneth to the E.N.E. a shoal projects towards the land, and the
continental point of the bay hath another projecting towards the point
of the island, both of which make it necessary for ships to avoid the
land and to keep the mid-channel, which is very narrow and runs N.E. and
S.W. Very near this island of Massua, towards the south and the
south-west, there are two other islands, that nearest the main land
being the larger, and that more out to sea being smaller and very round.
These three islands form a triangle, being all very flat and barren,
having no wells or springs; but in Massua are many cisterns for the use
of the inhabitants. There are many shoals interspersed among these
islands, but there is a channel through among them, through which
gallies and rowing vessels may pass at full sea. This island of Massua,
with all the coast from Cape _Guardafu_ to _Swakem_, was only a short
time before under the dominion of _Prester John_; but within these few
years the king or sheikh of _Dallac_ hath usurped it, and resides there
the greater part of the year, because of the trade which he carries on
with the Abyssinians, from whom he procures great quantities of gold and
ivory. In the months of May and June, in consequence of excessive calm
weather, the air of this island is exceedingly intemperate and
unhealthy; at which season the sheikh and the other inhabitants go all
to Dallac, leaving Massua entirely empty. All the coast of the bay of
Massua on the main-land is extremely mountainous, till you come to a
place called _Arkiko_[278] by the sea-side, where there are many wells
of water, where the coast is more clear and open, with many fields and
plains. Arkiko is about a league from Massua to the south, and through
all these mountains and fields there are many wild beasts, as elephants,
tygers, wolves, wild boars, stags, and elks, besides others not known to
us; whence Massua was called _Ptolomaida of the wild beasts_, which is
farther confirmed, as the latitude of Massua is the same as that
assigned to _Ptolomaida_[279].

[Footnote 278: Arkiko, Arkoko, or Erkoko, by some erroneously called
Erocco, and by De L'Isle, Arcua. In the edition of this journal by
Purchas it is called Arquito.--Ast.]

[Footnote 279: These are no proofs that Massua is on the spot formerly
occupied by Ptolomaida; for the whole coast of Abyssinia is full of wild
beasts, and since Ptolomy fixed the latitude solely by computed
distances, it is next to impossible that these should exactly agree with
real observations.--Ast.]


_Digression respecting the History, Customs, and State of Abyssinia_.

_Presbyter_ or _Prester John_, otherwise called _Prete Jani_, who is the
king or emperor of the Abyssinians, is lord of all the land called
anciently _Ethiopia sub Egypto_[280], or Lower Ethiopia; which is one of
the most extensive dominions we know of in the world. This empire begins
at Cape _Guardafu_, called anciently _Aromata_, whence running along the
Red Sea, with desert and not very crooked coasts, it reaches to the
boundaries of the rich city of _Swakem_. On the north side it borders on
the warlike people of the _Nubys_, _Nuba_, or Nubians, who intervene
between Abyssinia and the _Theabaid_ or Upper Egypt. From thence it
reaches a great way inland to the kingdom of _Manicongo_, including part
of _Lybia Inferior_, and other interior parts of Africa towards the
west; whence turning behind the springs and lakes of the Nile through
burning and unknown regions, it endeth in the south upon the _Barbarian
Gulf_, now known to the Portuguese who navigate that gulf, as the coasts
of _Melinda_ and _Magadoxa_. The Nile is still known by its ancient
name, being called _Nil_ by the Abyssinians, Egyptians, Arabians, and
Indians. The springs and lakes of this river are on the confines which
separate the land of the Abyssinians from the Cafres that inhabit the
continent behind Melinda and Mozambique, as I was informed by some great
lords and other persons of Abyssinia, whence it appears that the
ancients had little knowledge respecting the origin of this river.
Inquiring from these people, if it were true that this river did sink in
many places into the earth, and came out again at the distance of many
days journey, I was assured there was no such thing, but that during its
whole course it was seen on the surface, having great breadth and depth,
notwithstanding of what we read in the fifth book of the Natural
History of Pliny. I made many inquiries respecting the causes of
increase and overflowings of this river, which has been so much disputed
by all the ancient philosophers, and received the most satisfactory
solution of this question never before determined. Thus almost
jestingly, and by means of very simple questions, I came to learn that
which the greatest philosophers of antiquity were ignorant of.

[Footnote 280: That is Ethiopia _below_ Egypt, or more properly to the
_south_ of Egypt. The expression _below_ seems ridiculous, as Abyssinia
or Ethiopia containing the sources of the Nile must be _higher_ than
Egypt at its mouth. But among Greek and Roman geographers, _above_ and
_below_ meant respectively to the north and to the south.--E.]

The principal lords of Abyssinia informed me, that in their country the
winter began in May, and lasted all June and July and part of August, in
which latter month the weather becomes mild and pleasant. In June and
July it is a great wonder if the sun ever make his appearance; and in
these two months so great and continual are the rains that the fields
and low grounds are entirely overflown, so that the people cannot go
from one place to another. That this prodigious quantity of water hath
no other issue or gathering-place excepting the Nile; as towards the Red
Sea the country is entirely skirted by very high mountains. Hence that
river must necessarily swell prodigiously and go beyond its ordinary
bounds, as unable to contain such vast quantities of water, and
overflows therefore both in Egypt and the other lands through which it
passes. And as the territories of Egypt are the most plain of these, of
necessity the overflowing there must be the more copious, as the river
has there more scope and freedom to spread out its waters than in the
high and mountainous lands of Abyssinia. Now, it is manifest that the
inundations of the Nile in Egypt always begin when the sun is in the
summer solstice, which is in June, while in July the river increases in
greater abundance, and in August, when the rains diminish in Abyssinia,
the river decreases by similar degrees to its former increase. Hence the
manifest cause of the increase of the Nile is from the great and
continual rains that fall in Abyssinia during the months of June and
July. I was myself in Massua in the month of June and part of July,
where I saw great storms of thunder and rain; and we saw within the
continent great and constant black clouds; though the Abyssinians said
what we saw was little in comparison of what it was in the inland
country. We likewise know that the months of June and July are the
winter season at the Cape of Good Hope and all the coast of Africa,
where the rains are continual. I was likewise told that the Nile formed
many islands, especially one exceedingly large, in which was a great
and rich city; which on due consideration must be the Island of _Meroe_.
They told me also that on this great island, and all through the river,
there were great numbers of fierce and pestiferous animals, which
doubtless must be crocodiles. Enquiring if the river in a certain place
fell from such a height, that with the noise of the fall those who
inhabited the neighbouring towns were born deaf; they said that
certainly in one place the river did fall over a great rock with a
prodigious noise, but had no such effects.

As an extended account of the manners and customs of the Abyssinians
would interfere with this journal, I must touch them only shortly,
though most worthy of being known; more especially the causes of the
overthrow and ruin of this empire in these our own days.

_Atini Tingill_, afterwards named David, _Prete Jani_ or Emperor of
Ethiopia, reigning in the year 1530, became so cruel and tyrannized so
much over his subjects that he incurred their universal hatred. At that
time _Gradamet_, king of Zeyla, made war on Abyssinia, encouraged by the
great enmity of the people against their sovereign, and perhaps secretly
invited by some of the great lords of the kingdom. On entering into
Abyssinia, and having reduced some towns and districts, Gradamet divided
liberally the spoils among his warriors, among whom he had 300 Turkish
arquebusseers, who formed the main strength of his army. He likewise
enfranchised all the inhabitants of the towns through which he passed,
exempting the inhabitants from the taxes and impositions they had to pay
to their sovereign, by which he gained to his party all the common
people, and even many of the principal nobles of the kingdom[281].

[Footnote 281: Of the cruelties of David, several examples are given in
the journal of Alvarez, such as the death of two _Betudetes_, the chief
justice, two _Tigre mahons_ or governors of Tigre, and four
_Barnagassoes_ or governors of the maritime country, in six years. This
disposition increased with his years, and perhaps he intended to force
some alteration in the religion of the country; which indeed
sufficiently appears by his sending Alvarez and Bermudez as his
ambassadors to the Pope.--_Purchas_.]

King David sent an army against the king of Zeyla; but when the Turks
began to shoot their calivers or arquebusses, among the Abyssinians, by
which some of them were slain, they were seized with an universal panic
and took flight. Proud of this victory, the king of Zeyla overrun the
country, accompanied by a great number of Abyssinians, and advanced
into that part of the south, towards Magadoxa and Melinda, where the
vast treasures of the former kings of Abyssinia were secured on the top
of an almost inaccessible mountain. Seeing every day the Abyssinians
revolting to the Moors, David gathered a new army with which be marched
against _Gradamet_ and joined battle, but was again completely defeated,
chiefly, by means of the Turkish musqueteers: On which David withdrew to
a strong post on a mountain, where in a few days he died, in the year
1539. After this great victory Gradamet marched immediately to the
mountain where the treasure was deposited, which he assaulted and took,
gaining possession of the largest treasure that ever was known in the
world. On the death of David, those of the nobles who had continued to
adhere to him, elected his eldest son in his stead, who was a young man
under age; and that nothing might be wanting to assist the ruin of the
kingdom, already almost irrecoverably reduced by the Moors, another
party of the nobles appointed a different son of the late king to
succeed to the throne. In this hopeless condition of his affairs, the
unfortunate youth, having to contend at the same time against foreign
invasion and domestic division, withdrew for personal safety to the
mountain of the Jews.

In the interior of Abyssinia there is a very large and high mountain
which can only be ascended by one very difficult path, and on its summit
there is a large plain, having abundance of springs, with numerous
cattle, and even some cultivation. The inhabitants of this mountain
observe the law of Moses. Though I have carefully inquired, I could
never learn how this people came into Abyssinia, and wherefore they have
never descended from their mountain to mix with the other inhabitants of
the country. The young king received a friendly entertainment from these
Jews, who acknowledged him as their sovereign, and defended him against
the king of Zeyla, who was unable to force his way up the mountain, and
had to retire. About this time we arrived at Massua, which put the Moors
in great fear, and inspired new courage into the hearts of the
Abyssinians, insomuch that the young king left the mountain of the Jews
and took up his quarters with his adherents in other mountains towards
the sea coast and nearer to Massua, whence he wrote many pitiful and
imploring letters for assistance, to which favourable answers were
returned giving him hopes of succour. We proceeded on our expedition to
Suez; and being returned again to Massua, it was ordained to send an
auxiliary force of 500 men under a captain, which was accordingly done
and we set sail on our way back to India. Since that time, I have not
learnt any intelligence whatever respecting the affairs of

[Footnote 282: The circumstances and fate of this Portuguese expedition
into Abyssinia will be found in the next chapter of this work.--E.]

The Abyssinians are naturally ceremonious men, and full of points of
honour. Their only weapons are darts, in which they figure to themselves
the lance with which our Saviour was wounded, and the cross on which he
died, though some wear short swords. They are very expert horsemen, but
badly apparelled; and are much given to lying and theft. Among them
riches are not computed by money, but by the possession of cattle and
camels, yet gold is much valued. In their own country they are dastardly
cowards, but in other countries valiant; insomuch that in India they say
that a good _Lascarin_, or what we call a soldier, must be an
Abyssinian; and they are so much esteemed in Ballagayat, Cambaya,
Bengal, and other places, that they are always made captains and
principal officers in the army. Their clothing is vile and poor. They
wear linen shirts, and the great personages have a kind of upper garment
called _Beden_. The vulgar people are almost quite naked. They eat
_bollemus_ and raw flesh; or if held to the fire, it is so little done
that the blood runs from it. In the whole land there are no cities or
towns, so that they live in the field under tents and pavilions like the
Arabs[283]. They pride themselves on believing that the queen of _Sheba_
was of their country, alleging that she took shipping at _Massua_,
though others say at _Swakem_, carrying with her jewels of great value
when she went to Jerusalem to visit Solomon, making him great gifts, and
returned with child by him.

[Footnote 283: The word used here in the edition of Purchas is

It is alleged in the history of Abyssinia, that when one of the Soldans
of _Babylon_ in Egypt made war many years ago upon their emperor, he
gathered a multitude of people and turned the course of the Nile, so
that it might not run into Egypt[284]. The Soldan, amazed at this vast
enterprize, which he believed would entirely ruin the land of Egypt,
sent ambassadors with great gifts, and made peace with the emperor,
giving a privilege to the Abyssinians to pass through his country
without paying tribute, when on their way to visit the holy sepulchre at
Jerusalem, and the shrine of St Catharine on Mount Sinai. Some learned
Moors whom I conversed with while in the Red Sea confirmed the truth of
this relation.

[Footnote 284: According to Bermudez, this attempt was begun by _Ale
Beale_, predecessor to _Onadinguel_ or _Atine-tingil_.--Astl.]


_Continuation of the Journal of De Castro from Massua to Swakem_.

We set sail at sun-rising on the 19th of February from the bay which is
half a league beyond Massua and half a league from the land. This day
was very close and rainy, and numbering our fleet I found 64 rowing
vessels; that is 3 galliots, eight small gallies, and 35 foists[285]. By
night our north-west wind lulled, and it blew a little from the west. In
the second watch it came on to rain; and in the middle of the morning
watch we weighed anchor and rowed along shore till morning, during which
time it rained hard. By evening of the 20th we were as far as the
extreme point of the range of islands on the north side, about 14
leagues from Massua. The coast from Massua hither stretched N.N.W. and
S.S.E. for these 14 leagues, and in some of the islands which lay to
seaward we knew that there were cattle and water, with some few poor
dwellings. The distance from these islands to the African coast might be
about four leagues. The islands in this range having cattle and water
are _Harate_, _Dohull_, and _Damanill_, which are all low and surrounded
with shoals and flats. All the first watch of the night, having the wind
fair at east, we sailed N.N.W. At the beginning of the second watch we
came suddenly to certain very white spots, which threw out flames like
lightning. Wondering at this strange event, we took in our sails
believing we were upon some banks or shoals; but on casting the lead I
found 26 fathoms. As this great novelty to us made no impression on the
native pilots, and being in deep water, we made sail again. On the 21st
at day light, we saw off to seawards a low island of which the Moorish
pilot had been afraid in the night. At day light on the 22nd we again
set sail, and at noon my pilot took the altitude of the sun, and found
our latitude 18 deg. 30' N. At this time we were abreast of a very long
point of sand projecting from the main-land. After doubling this point,
we found the sea very free, and sailed N.W. and by W. One hour after
noon we came to a haven called _Marate_. All the coast on our left hand
during this day stretched N.N.W. and S.S.E. the land by the sea shore
being very low with not even a hillock; but within the land the
mountains rise to such a height that they seem to reach the clouds.
_Marate_ is a very low desert island and without water, 66 leagues
beyond Massua, of a roundish figure, and a league and a half in circuit.
It is about three leagues from the main, and on the S.W. side which
fronts the Ethiopean coast it has a very good harbour, safe in all
winds, especially those from the eastern points; as on this side two
long points stretch out from the island east and west, one quarter N.W.
and S.E. between which the land straitens much on both sides, forming a
very great and hollow bosom or bay, in the mouth and front of which
there is a long and very low island, and some sands and shoals, so that
no sea can come in. This haven has two entries, one to the east and the
other to the west, both near the points of the island which form the
harbour. The channel on the _east_ stretches N. and S. one quarter N.W.
and S.E. having three fathoms water in the shallowest place, after which
it immediately deepens, and within the haven we have four and five
fathoms near the shore, with a mud bottom. During the night the wind was
from the east, but less than in the day, and we rode at anchor all

[Footnote 285: The particular enumeration comes only to 46 vessels, so
that the number of 64 in the text seems an oversight or

At sunrise on the 23d of February, we set sail from the island and port
of _Marate_, finding seven fathom water and a sandy bottom[286]. At
eleven o'clock we came to two small islands far to seawards, one called
_Darata_ and the other _Dolcofallar_[287], from whence to _Swakem_ is a
days sail. From noon we sailed N.W. by W. till even-song time, when we
entered the channel of _Swakem_, in which, after sailing a league N.W.
we had certain shoals a-head, on which account we altered our course to
W. one quarter N.W. and sometimes W. to keep free of these shoals. We
continued in this course about three leagues, till we saw a great island
a-head of us, when we immediately tacked towards the land, and came to
an anchor between certain great _shoals of stone_ or sunken rocks,
forming a good harbour named _Xabaque_[288], which in the Arabic means a
net. It might be an hour before sunset when we came to anchor. This day
my pilot took the sun at noon, and found our latitude _scarce_ 19 deg.
N[289]. The shoals of Swakem are so many and so intermingled, that no
picture or information were sufficient to understand them, much less to
sail through among them; the islands, shoals, banks, rocks, and channels
are so numerous and intricate. At the entrance among these shoals, there
is to seaward a shoal under water on which the sea breaks very much, and
to landward a small island, these two ranging N.E. and S.W. a quarter
more E. and W. the distance between being three quarters of a league.
Immediately on entering, the channel seemed large and spacious, and the
farther we advanced so much more to seaward there appeared to us an
infinite number of very flat islands, shoals, sand-banks and rocks, that
they could not be reckoned. Towards the land side these were not so
numerous; but it is the foulest and most unnavigable channel that ever
was seen, in comparison with any other sea. What ought chiefly to be
attended to in this channel, is always to keep nearer to the shoals that
are to seawards, and as far as possible from those to landward. The
breadth of this channel in some places is about half a league, in others
a quarter, and in others less than a gun-shot. In the entry to this
channel we had six fathoms, and from thence to the port of _Shabak_
never less, and never more than 12. From the beginning of the shoals to
_Shabak_ may be about five leagues, and their whole length eight or
nine. We have then another channel, more secure for ships and great
vessels; and we may likewise pass these shoals leaving them all to
seaward, going very close to the main-land, which is the best and most
pleasant way.

[Footnote 286: Perhaps this refers to the _west_ channel of the harbour,
though not so expressed in the text.--E.]

[Footnote 287: Named Daratata and Dolkefallar in Astley.]

[Footnote 288: More properly Shabak.--Ast.]

[Footnote 289: Purchas in a side-note makes this the latitude of the
harbour of _Xabaque_; but it is obvious that they had sailed a long way
between noon, when the altitude was taken, and an hour before sunset,
when they entered the harbour.--E.]

On the 24th, at sunrise, we set sail from the port of _Shabak_, and
rowed by so narrow a channel that our fleet had to follow each other in
single line a-head, being only about a cross-bow shot over in the widest
parts. In this narrow channel we were never more than a cannon shot from
the main-land, and sometimes little more than a cross-bow shot; having
shoals, rocks and banks on every side of us, all under water, yet we had
always sufficient indications to avoid them; as wherever they lay, the
water over them appeared very red or very green, and where neither of
these colours appeared we were sure of the clearest channel, the water,
being there dark. Continuing by this channel among so many difficulties,
we came to anchor at half an hour past eleven at a little low round
island, in lat. 19 deg. N. In this latitude Ptolomy places the mountain of
the _Satyrs_[290]. Of this mountain the native pilots had no knowledge;
but going about half a league into the land, I found the footsteps of so
many kind of beasts, and such great flocks of _pianets_[291] as was
wonderful. All these tracks came till they set their feet in the sea,
and they occupied, the greatest part of the field. I believe the fable
of the _Satyrs_ to have arisen from thence, and that they were said to
inhabit these hills and mountains. It is to be noted that in the channel
of four leagues from the harbour of _Shabak_ to this island, the water
is never less than two and a half fathoms nor deeper than eleven, and
also that the tide at this island does not ebb and flow above half a
yard. It begins to flow as soon as the moon begins to ascend towards the
horizon, in the same order as already mentioned respecting Socotora.

[Footnote 290: This mountain of the Satyrs may more properly be
generally referred to the high range of mountains on this part of the
coast, perhaps from abounding in the baboon called Simia Satyrus, or the

[Footnote 291: I know not what to make of the _pianets_; but the
footsteps of beasts reaching to the edge of the water may probably refer
to amphibious animals, while the flocks of pianets may have been
water-fowl of some kind.--E.]

The 26th at sunrise we departed from the island, rowing along a reef of
rocks that ran between us and the land to which it was almost parallel,
all the sea between it and the land being full of shoals and banks; but
to seawards there were neither shoals nor banks nor any other
impediment. At nine o'clock we came to anchor at a small island
encompassed by many flats and shoals, where there was a good haven. This
island was a league and a half from that we left in the morning, and 5
leagues short of _Swakem_. The 27th at sunrise, we set sail from this
second island, and two hours within the night we came to anchor a league
and a half farther on in 28 fathoms water. The 28th we _bridled_ our
oars and set sail. At nine o'clock we anchored about two leagues from
the land in 23 fathoms, on soft sand, like ouze or mud. This morning we
found some shoals under water, but the sea always shewed itself very
green or red over them. Two hours after noon we set sail again, and
anchored at night in 37 fathoms on a sandy bottom, hard by an island a
league and a half short of Swakem. The coast runs N.N.W. and S.S.E.
having all along a shoal which extends near half a league into the sea.
This land differs in nothing from that formerly described. The 1st March
1541, departing from this anchorage, and having doubled a point of land
made by the shoal, we approached the land inwards by a channel, and came
to anchor in the haven of the city of _Swakem_.

_Swakem_ was called by the ancients the port of _Aspi_, as may be seen
in the _third_ table of Africa by Ptolemy. At this day it is one of the
richest cities in the East[292]. It is situated within the Arabian Gulf
or Red Sea, on the coast of _Ethiopia sub Egypto_, now called the land
and coast of the _Abexii_ or Abyssinians. Among famous places, this may
be reckoned equal or superior to them all in _four_ things. The _first_
is the goodness and safety of the haven. The _second_ in the facility
and good service for lading and unlading ships. The _third_ in its
traffic with very strange and remote people of various manners and
customs. The _fourth_ in the strength and situation of the city. As
touching the goodness and security of the port I shall first speak.
Nature hath so formed this port that no storm from the sea can enter it
in any direction. Within the haven the sea is so quiet, and runs so
insensibly, that scarcely can we perceive it to have any tide. The
ground is mud. The road in all places has five or six fathoms, and seven
in some places; and is so large that two hundred ships may ride
commodiously at anchor, besides rowing-vessels without number. The water
is so clear that you may plainly perceive the bottom; and where that is
not seen the depth is at least ten or twelve fathoms. The ships can be
laden or unladen all round the city, merely by laying a plank from them
into the warehouses of the merchants; while gallies fasten themselves to
stones at the doors of the houses, laying their prows over the quays as
so many bridges. Now touching the trade and navigation of this port
with many sorts of people, and with strange and remote countries, I know
not what city can compare with it except Lisbon: as this city trades
with all India, both on this side and beyond the Ganges; with _Cambaya_,
_Tanacerim_, _Pegu_, _Malacca_; and within the Straits with _Jiddah_,
_Cairo_, and _Alexandria_. From all Ethiopia and Abyssinia it procures
great quantities of gold and ivory. As to the strength and situation of
this city enough can hardly be said; since to come to it, the
inconveniences, difficulties, and dangers are so great, that it seems
almost impossible: as for fifteen leagues about, the shoals, flats,
islands, channels, rocks, banks, and sands, and surges of the sea, are
so many and intricate that they put the sailors in great fear and almost
in despair. The situation of the city is this: In the middle of a great
nook or bay, is a perfectly flat island almost level with the sea and
exactly round, being about a quarter, of a league in circuit, upon which
the city of _Swakem_ is built; not one foot of ground on the whole
island but is replenished with houses and inhabitants, so that the whole
island, is a city. On two sides this insular city comes within a
bow-shot of the main land, that is on the E.S.E. and S.W. sides, but all
the rest is farther from the land. The road, haven, or bay surrounds the
city on every side to the distance of a cross-bow shot, in all of which
space, ships may anchor in six or seven fathoms on a mud bottom. All
around this bay there is a great shoal; so that the deep water is from
the edge of the city all round to the distance of a bow-shot, and all
beyond is full of shoals. In this bay there are three other islands on
the land side to the north-west. The two which lie farthest in are
small, but that nearest to the channel is about as large as the city.
Between this island and the main sea, there is a large and very long
channel, having seven fathoms water, all along which a great navy might
safely ride at anchor, without any danger of annoyance from the city,
whence only their masts could be seen. When the moon appears in the
horizon it is full sea, and as the moon advances it ebbs till the moon
comes to the meridian, when it is dead low water; and thence it begins
again to flow till the moon sets, when it is again full sea. The entire
ebb and flow of the sea at this city does not exceed a quarter of a
yard. The most that it rises along the coast is a yard and a half, and
in some places less than three quarters of a yard. But when I made this
observation it was neap tide.

[Footnote 292: This is to be understood of 1541, when visited by De
Castro. Since the Turkish conquest, Mokha and other places have greater


_Continuation of the Voyage from Swakem to Comol_.

We remained in the haven of Swakem from the 1st to the 9th of March
1541, when an hour before sunset we weighed from before the city, and
anchored for the night at the mouth of the channel. We weighed again on
the 10th, and came again to anchor at night, when the dew was
wonderfully great. On the 11th it blew a storm from the north, so
violent that it raised great mountains of sand along the sea coast,
after which it dispersed them, and the air remained obscured by the sand
as if it had been a great mist or smoke. We remained at anchor all this
day, and on the 12th we left this channel two leagues beyond _Swakem_,
and being without the channel we made sail. About a league and a half
from the coast there were so many rocks, shoals, and flats, on which the
sea continually broke, that we had to take in our sails and row for
three hours, till we got beyond these shoals, after which we again made
sail. At evening we came to anchor within the bank by a very narrow
channel, a league beyond that we had been last in, and three leagues
from Swakem, but the channel within the entrance was large, with clean
ground, and perfectly secure in all winds.

The 13th we went out of this channel an hour before day, and about a
cannon-shot to seaward we saw a long range of shoals with broken water,
seeming to stretch in the same direction with the coast. At eleven
o'clock the wind turned to the N.N.W. and as our course was N.W. we were
unable to make way, and had to fasten our vessels to the rocks on these
shoals, where we lay about three hours. About two o'clock afternoon the
wind freshened at N.N.E. and we made sail N.W. But coming to the bank
landward, we took in our sails and rowed into a channel within the bank,
where we came to anchor. This channel is very narrow and winding, being
about seven leagues beyond Swakem, whence the coast to this place runs
N. and S. and then N. by W. and S. by E. I went ashore on the 15th to
observe the order and flowing of the tide, and found it was full sea
when the moon was two hours past the meridian, and was dead ebb two
hours after the moon set. I found likewise that the ebb and flow of the
tide at this place was 22 cubits[293]. The 16th we left this channel,
with the wind at north, and cast anchor half a league out at sea. The
17th we entered a very good harbour named _Dradate_ or _Tradate_, the
coast from Swakem here winding N. by W. and S. by E. distance 10
leagues. The land behind the shore is all very low in that space, but
three leagues back from the coast it rises into great and high
mountains. This harbour of _Tradate_, in lat. 19 deg. 50' N. 10 leagues
beyond Swakem, is one of the best in the world. The entrance is about a
falcon-shot across, and grows narrower inwards, but has 20 fathoms water
in its whole length with a mud bottom; and a quarter of a league within
the land there is a famous watering-place at certain wells, where is the
best water and in greatest plenty of any place on all these coasts. The
19th we sailed at day-light, and advanced 3-1/2 leagues that day, having
many shoals to seaward of us, and the coast for these 3-1/2 leagues
trended N. and S. On the 20th at sunrise the wind blew from the N. and
the sea was rough, for which reason we had to seek shelter within the
shoal, entering by a very narrow and difficult channel. After we were
in, the wind came N.N.E. and we remained all day at anchor. The 21st we
left the shoal with fine weather, the wind being at W.N.W. and sailed N.
keeping about half a league from the land; and an hour after sunrise we
came to a long and fair point of land called by Ptolomy the _promontory
of Diogenes_. On the north side of this point is a large fine bay named
_Doroo_, and at the extremity of this long bare point there is a large
round tower like a pillar. At the entrance of this harbour or channel
there are six fathoms water, which diminishes gradually inwards to
three. The ground is hard clay, and the bay is very large with many
creeks and nooks within, and many islands; many of these creeks
penetrating deep into the main-land, so that in every place there may be
many vessels hidden without being observed from the other branches of
the harbour. A quarter of a league off to sea from the mouth of this
harbour there is a shoal which defends it completely from the admission
of any sea, as this shoal is above water, and has no passage except by
the entrance already mentioned, which trends E. by N. and W. by S. A
cannon-shot from this bay there is a great well, but the water is very

[Footnote 293: Considering the very small rise and fall of the tide at
Swakem, the text in this place ought perhaps only to have been

On the 22d we left this harbour of Doroo at day light, proceeding by
means of our oars, and found the sea very full of rocks, so that
escaping from some we got foul of others, and at half past ten o'clock
we had to fasten our vessels to the rocks. Proceeding onwards, we got
towards evening in with the land, and having doubled a point we entered
a very large bay named _Fuxaa_, or _Fushaa_, three leagues and a half
beyond _Doroo_, the coast between stretching N. and E. with a tendency
towards N.W. and S.E. This bay of _Fushaa_ is remarkable by a very high
sharp peaked hill, in lat. 20 15' N. In the very mouth of the harbour
there are two very low points, lying N. by E. and S. by W. from each
other, distant a league and half. As no great sea can enter here it is a
very good harbour, having 10 and 12 fathoms water on a mud bottom,
diminishing inwards to five fathoms. Along the land within the bay on
the south side there are nine small islands in a row, and in other
places there are some scattered islets, all very low and encompassed by
shoals. The land at this bay is very dry and barren, and it has no

On the 25th we continued along the coast, having many rocks to seawards
about a league off; and at ten o'clock we entered a very large harbour
named _Arekea_, four leagues beyond _Fushaa_, the coast between running
N. and S. with some tendence to N.W. and S.E. _Arekea_, the strongest
and most defensible harbour I have ever seen, is 22 leagues beyond
_Swakem_. In ancient times it was called _Dioscori_ according to Pliny.
In the middle of the entry to this port there is a considerable island,
about a cross-bow shot in length and breadth, having a bank or shoal
running from it on the south side to the main land, so shallow that
nothing can pass over it. But on the north side of this island the
channel is about a cross-bow shot in breadth and 15 fathoms deep,
running N.W. and S.E. and on both sides this channel is very shallow and
full of rocks, the fair way being in the middle. This channel is about a
gun-shot in length, after which the coasts on both sides recede and form
within a large fine and secure harbour, about a league long and half a
league broad, deep in the middle but full of shoals near the land, and
it hath no fresh water. At this place it was agreed to send back all the
ships to Massua, and to proceed with only sixteen small gallies or row

Arrangements being accordingly formed, we set sail from _Arekea_ on the
30th at noon, and came to an anchor in a port called _Salaka_ four
leagues beyond _Arekea_ and 96 from _Swakem_, the coast trending N. and
S. with a slight deviation to N.E. and S.W. The land next the sea has
many risings or hillocks, behind which there are high mountains. It must
be noted that all the land from Arekea onwards close behind the shore
puts on this uneven appearance, whereas before that it was all plain,
till in the inland it rises in both into high mountains. The 31st we
sailed from _Salaka_, and an hour before sunset we made fast to the
rocks of a shoal a league from the land and 17 leagues from _Salaka_,
being 43 leagues from Swakem. From the port of _Salaka_ the coast begins
to wind very much; and from _Raseldoaer_ or _Ras al Dwaer_, it runs very
low to the N.N.E. ending in a sandy point where there are 13 little
hillocks or knobs of stone, which the Moorish pilots said were graves.
From this _point of the Calmes_[294] about two leagues, the coast
runneth N.N.W. to a shoal which is 43 leagues from _Swakem_. This point
is the most noted in all these seas, as whoever sails from _Massua_,
_Swakem_, and other places for _Jiddah_, _Al Cossir_, and _Toro_, must
necessarily make this point. The sea for the last seventeen leagues is
of such a nature that no rules or experience can suffice for sailing it
in safety, so that the skilful as well as the unskilful must pass it at
all hazards, and save themselves as it were by chance, for it is so full
of numerous and great shoals, so interspersed everywhere with rocks, and
so many and continual banks, that it seems better fitted for being
travelled on foot than sailed even in small boats. In the space between
_Salaka_ and _Ras-al-Dwaer_, but nearer to the latter, there are three
islands forming a triangle, the largest of which is called _Magarzawn_,
about two leagues long and very high ground, but has no water. This
island bears N. and S. with _Ras-al-Dwaer_ distant three leagues. The
second island lies considerably out to sea, and is called _Al Mante_,
and is high land without water; the third island is all sand and quite
low, being four leagues from _Salaka_ towards _Ras-al-Dwaer_, but I did
not learn its name.

[Footnote 294: Meaning perhaps the sandy point near Ras-al-Dwaer. This
paragraph is very obscure, and seems to want something, omitted perhaps
by the abbreviator.--Astl.]

On the 2d of April 1541, casting loose from the before-mentioned shoal,
which is 43 leagues beyond _Swakem_, we rowed along the coast, and
entered a river called _Farate_, about four leagues from the shoal;
whence setting our sails we got into a fine haven a league from thence
called _Kilfit_. All this day we saw no rocks to landward, but there was
a shoal to seaward. _Farate_ is a large and fair river, the mouth of
which is in lat. 21 deg.40' N. Its mouth is formed by two low points about a
gun-shot apart, from each of which a shoal stretches towards the middle,
where only there is any passage. The river runs from the west to the
east, having very low land on both sides, without either tree or shrub
or bush of any kind. At the entrance it is 30 fathoms deep, and from
thence diminishes to 18 fathoms. _Kilfit_ is a fine harbour and very
safe, as when once in, no wind whatever need be feared. There are at the
entry two very low points bearing N.W. 1/4 N. and S.E. 1/4 S. distant
near a quarter of a league. It is rather more than three leagues in
circuit, and every part of it is safe anchorage, having 12 fathoms water
throughout; the shore is however rocky. This harbour is rather more than
a league from the river of _Farate_, between which is a range of
mountains, one of which is higher than the others. We left _Kilfit_ on
the 3d, an hour before day, and rowed along the coast till an hour
before sunset, when we anchored in a haven called _Ras al Jidid_, or the
new cape, about nine leagues from _Kilfit_. This day we saw a few shoals
to seawards, but fewer than before. Two leagues from _Kilfit_ there is a
very good haven named _Moamaa_; and from the _point of the shrubs_ to
another very long sandy point, about two leagues distant, before the
port of _Ras-al-Jidid_, the coast runs N. and S. with a small deviation
to the N.W. and S.E. the distance being about three and a half
leagues[295]. _Ras-al-Jidid_[296] is a small but very pleasant haven, 57
leagues beyond Swakem, and so exactly circular that it resembles a great
cauldron. There are two points at its entrance bearing N. and S. and on
the inside the eastern winds only can do harm. All the ground is very
clean, having 18 fathoms at the mouth and 13 within; and half a league
inland there is a well of water, though not very plentiful, and
bitterish. This port is a large half league in circuit. It is a
singularity in all the rivers or harbours which I have seen on this
coast, that they have no bars or banks at their mouths, which are
generally deeper than within. On the land round this port, I found
certain trees which in their trunk and bark resembled cork-trees, but
very different in all other respects. Their leaves were very large,
wonderfully thick, and of a deep green, crossed with large veins. They
were then in flower, and their flowers in the bud resembled the flowers
of the mallow when in that state: But such as were opened were white,
and like the white cockle. On cutting a bough or leaf there run out a
great stream of milk, as from the dug of a goat. On all this coast I saw
no other trees, except a grove a little beyond Massua, in some marshy
ground near the sea. Besides these trees, there are some valleys inland
producing a few capers, the leaves of which are eaten by the Moors, _who
say they be appropriate to the joynts_. On the 4th of April, from
sunrise till eleven o'clock, the wind blew a storm from the N.W. after
which there was much and loud thunder, accompanied with hail, the stones
being the largest I ever saw. With the thunder the wind veered about to
every point of the compass, and at last it settled in the north. This
day I carried my instruments on shore, when I found the variation 1-1/4
degree north-east[297], and the latitude by many observations 22 deg. N.
Though these observations were made on shore with great care, so that I
never stirred the instrument when once set till the end of my
observations, I am satisfied there must be some error; because the great
heat cracked the plate of ivory in the middle, so that there remained a
great cleft as thick as a _gold portague_. On the 6th, an hour before
day, we weighed from the port of _Ras-al-Jidid_, and advanced about
three and a half leagues. The 7th in the morning, the wind blew fresh at
N.W. and we rowed to the shore, where at eight o'clock we fastened our
barks to certain stones of a shoal or reef, lying before a long point
which hereafter I shall name _Starta_. We went in this space about three
leagues. About noon we made sail and proceeded in our voyage, but in no
small doubts, as we saw on both sides of our course a prodigious number
of shelves; we were therefore obliged to take in our sails and use our
oars, by means of which we came about sunset to a good haven named
_Comol_, in which we anchored.

[Footnote 295: This paragraph is likewise obscurely worded, and is
perhaps left imperfect by the abbreviator.--Astl.]

[Footnote 296: In some subsequent passages this harbour is called
Igidid, probably to distinguish it from the point of Ras-al-Jidid.--Astl.]

[Footnote 297: It is therefore probable that in all the bearings set
down in this voyage, when applied to practice, either for the uses of
geography or navigation, this allowance of 1-1/4 too much to the east
ought to be deducted.--E.]

From a point two leagues beyond the harbour of _Igidid_, or
_Ras-al-Jidid_, to another very long and flat point may be about four
leagues, these two points bearing N.W. and S.E. between which there is a
large bay; within which towards the long point at the N.W. is a deep
haven so close on all sides that it is safe from every wind. This point
is an island; from which circumstance and its latitude it seems
certainly the island named _Starta_ by Ptolomy. From thence to a great
point of land over the harbour of _Comol_ the distance may be five
leagues; these two points bearing N.W. by W. and S.E. by E. and between
them is a large fair bay. From the port of _Igidid_ till half a league
short of the harbour of _Comol_, the land close to the shore is all
raised in small hills very close together, behind which, about a league
farther inland, are very high mountains rising into many high and sharp
peaks; and as we come nearer to _Comol_ these hills approach the sea,
and in coming within half a league of _Comol_ they are close to the
shore. Comol is eleven leagues beyond _Igidid_, and 68 from Swakem, and
is in lat. 22 deg. 30' N. This port is in the second bay, very near the face
of the point which juts out from the coast on the north-west side of
this second bay. Though not large, the port of _Comol_ is very secure,
as towards the seaward it has certain reefs or shoals above water which
effectually defend it from all winds. The land around it is very plain
and pleasant, and is inhabited by many _Badwis_[298]. The north-west
point which ends the bay and covers this port is very long and fair,
being all low and level, being what was named by Ptolomy the promontory
of _Prionoto_ in his _third_ table of Africa, since the great mountains
which range along the whole of this coast end here.

[Footnote 298: Named _Badois_ in the edition of Purchas, but certainly
the _Badwis_ or _Bedouins_, signifying the _People of the Desert_, being
the name by which the Arabs who dwell in tents are distinguished from
those who inhabit towns.--Astl.].


_Continuation of the Voyage from the Harbour of Comol to Toro or Al

Three hours after midnight of the 7th April 1541[299], we left the
harbour of _Comol_, using our oars for a small way, and then hoisting
sail we proceeded along the coast; but an hour before day-light some of
our barks struck upon certain rocks and shoals, on which we again struck
sails and took to our oars till day-light. At day-light, being then the
8th, we came to a spacious bay, of which to the north and north-west we
could see no termination, neither any cape or head-land in that
direction. We accordingly sailed forwards in that open sea or bay, but
which had so many shoals on each side that it was wonderful we could
make _any profit of a large wind;_ for, _now going roamour, and now upon
a tack_, sometimes in the way and sometimes out of it, there was no way
for us to take certain and quiet[300]. About sunset we came to a very
great shelf or reef, and fastening our barks to its rocks we remained
there for the night. The morning of the 9th being clear, we set sail
from this shelf, and took harbour within a great shelf called
_Shaab-al-Yadayn_[301]. After coming to anchor, we noticed an island to
seaward, called _Zemorjete_. This port and shelf trend N.E. by E. and
S.W. by W. From the _cape of the mountains_[302], to another cape beyond
it on which there are a quantity of shrubs or furzes; the coast runs
N.E. by N. and S.W. by S. the distance between these capes being about
three and a half or four leagues. From this last point the coast of the
great bay or nook winds inwards to the west, and afterwards turns out
again, making a great circuit with many windings, and ends in a great
and notable point called _Ras-al-Nashef_, or the dry cape, called by
Ptolomy the promontory _Pentadactilus_ in his _third_ table of Africa.
The island _Zemorjete_ is about eight leagues E. from this cape; and
from that island, according to the Moorish pilots, the two shores of the
gulf are first seen at one time, but that of Arabia is a great deal
farther off than the African coast. This island, which is very high and
barren, is named _Agathon_ by Ptolomy. It has another very small island
close to it, which is not mentioned in Ptolomy. Now respecting the shelf
_Shaab-al-Yadayn_, it is to be noted that it is a great shelf far to
seaward of the northern end of the great bay, all of it above water,
like two extended arms with their hands wide open, whence its Arabic
name which signifies _shelf of the hands_. The port of this shelf is to
landward, as on that side it winds very much, so as to shut up the haven
from all winds from the sea. This haven and cape _Ras-al-Nashef_ bear
from each other E.S.E. and W.S.W. distant about four leagues.

[Footnote 299: In our mode of counting time, three in the morning of the

[Footnote 300: This nautical language is so different from that of the
present day as to be almost unintelligible. They appear to have sailed
in a winding channel, in which the wind was sometimes scant, sometimes
large and sometimes contrary; so that occasionally they had to tack or
turn to windward. The strange word _roamour_, which has occurred once
before, may be conjectured to mean that operation in beating to
windward, in which the vessel sails contrary to the direction of her
voyage, called in ordinary nautical language the short leg of the

[Footnote 301: Signifying in Arabic the shelf of the two hands.--Astl.]

[Footnote 302: Probably that just before named _Prionoto_ from Ptolomy,
and called cape of the mountains, because the Abyssinian mountains there

At sunrise on the 10th we set sail to the N.N.E. the wind being fresh
and the sea appearing clear and navigable. When about half a league from
the point we saw, as every one thought, a ship under sail, but on
drawing nearer it was a white rock in the sea, which we were told
deceives all navigators as it did us. After this we stood N. by E. By
nine o'clock we reached an island named _Connaka_, and passed between it
and the main-land of Africa. This island is small and barren, about half
a league in circuit, and is about a league and a half from the main. It
resembles a vast crocodile with its legs stretched out, and is a noted
land-mark among navigators. _Connaka_ and _Zamorjete_ bear from each
other N.W. by W. and S.E. by E. distant about six small leagues. About
half an hour past ten, we reached a very long point of sand stretching
far out to sea, called _Ras-al-nef_, which signifies in Arabic the point
or cape of the nose. There is no nigh land whatever about this cape, but
a vast plain field without tree or any green thing, and in the very face
of the point stands a great temple without any other buildings, and on
each side of it is a very clear sandy coast in manner of a bay. This
cape of _Ras-al-nef_ is famous among navigators, as all their trouble
and danger ends on reaching it, when they consider themselves at home
and secure. We continued our course from this cape along the coast with
the wind at S.E. At noon my pilot took the altitude, and found our
latitude 24 deg. 10' N. at which time we were beyond _Ras-al-nef_ about
three leagues, whence the latitude of that cape is 24 deg. N. From this it
appears that the ancient city of _Berenice_ was built upon this cape
_Ras-al-nef_ as Ptolomy places it on this coast under the tropic of
_Cancer_, making the greatest declination of the sun at this place
almost 23 deg. 50'. Likewise Pliny says that at Berenice the sun at noon in
the summer solstice gives no shadow to the _gnomon_, by which that city
appears to have stood under the tropic.[303]

[Footnote 303: It may be presumed that the position given by Ptolomy is
merely accidental, resulting from computed distances; and Pliny only
speaks from the authority of Ptolomy. In all probability _Al Kossir_, to
be afterwards mentioned, is the _Berenice_ of the ancients.--Astl.]

Half an hour before sunset, we came to an island called _Shwarit_, but
passing onwards a quarter of a league we came to some shelves of sand
and others of rock, and anchored between them in a good harbour called
_Sial_. These shelves and this port are 103 leagues beyond _Swakem_. On
these shelves we saw a much greater quantity of sea-fowl than had been
seen in any part of the Red Sea. From _Ras-al-Nashef_ to the island of
_Shwarit_ may be between 16 and 17 leagues. After passing Cape
_Ras-al-Nashef_, or the N.W. point of the great bay, the coast winds
very much, running into the land, and pushing out again a very long
point of land called _Ras-al-nef_, which two points bear from each other
N.E. and S.W. almost 1/4 more N. and S. distant about six leagues large.
From _Ras-al-nef_ forwards, the coast winds directly to the N.W. till we
come to _Swarit_, the distance being between 10 and 11 leagues. In this
distance the sea is only in three places foul with shoals; _first_ to
seaward of the island of _Connaka_, where there is a large fair shoal
rising above water in a great ridge of large rocks; and running a long
way toward the land; the _second_ place is at the island of _Shwarit_,
as both to the east and west of this island great shoals and flats
stretch towards the main-land, so as apparently to shut up the sea
entirely between that island and the main; the _third_ is at this
harbour of _Sial_ where we anchored, where the sea is studded thick with
innumerable shoals and flats, so that no part remains free. The island
of Shwarit is a gun-shot in length and nearly as much in breadth, all
low land, with a great green bush in the middle, and opposite to its
east side there is a great rock like an island. _Shwarit_ is little more
than half a league from the main-land.

From _Swakem_ all the way to _Ras-al-nef_, the countries are all
inhabited by _Badwis_ or _Bedouins_, who follow the law of Mahomet, and
from _Ras-al-nef_, upwards to _Suez_ and the end of this sea, the coast
all belongs to Egypt, the inhabitants of which dwell between the coast
of the Red Sea and the river Nile. Cosmographers in general call the
inhabitants of both these regions _Ethiopians_. Ptolomy calls them
Egyptian Arabs: Pomponius Mela and other cosmographers name them in
general Arabs; but we ought to follow Ptolomy, as he was the prince of
cosmographers. These Egyptian Arabs, who inhabit the whole country from
the mountains to the sea, are commonly called _Bedwis_ or _Bedouins_, of
whose customs and manner of life we shall treat in another place.

We took in our sails on the 11th of April, and proceeded on our way by
rowing. At nine o'clock we entered a great bay called _Gadenauhi_[304],
about 4 leagues from _Sial_, the coast between trending N.W. and S.E.
rather more to the N. and S. The land over the sea, which for some
way had the appearance of a wall or trench, becomes now very mountainous
and _doubled_, shewing so many mountains and so close that it was
wonderful. The port or bay of _Gadenauhi_ is 107 leagues beyond
_Swakem_, in lat. 24 deg. 40' N. It was low water _one hour after high
noon_[305], and full sea when the moon rose above the horizon; and as
the moon ascended it began to ebb, till the moon was an hour past the
meridian, when it began to flow, and was full sea an hour after the moon
set. By night the wind was N.W. Two or three hours after midnight we
departed from _Gadenauhi_ prosecuting our voyage. In passing between the
shoal which comes from the N.W. point of the bay and the island of
_Bahuto_, we stuck fast upon the shoal, and were much troubled,
believing ourselves in a net or cul-de-sac; but we had no hurt or
danger, and presently got into the right channel and rowed along shore,
against the wind at N.W. till day. The 12th we rowed along shore, and
came an hour after sunrise into a haven called _Xarmeelquiman_ or
_Skarm-al-Kiman_, meaning in the Arabic a cleft or opening in the
mountains. This is a small but excellent harbour, 1-1/2 league beyond
_Gadenauhi_, and 108 leagues beyond _Swakem_, very much like the port of

[Footnote 304: Perhaps _Wad-annawi_.--Astl.]

[Footnote 305: This strange expression, as connected with the tide which
is dependent on the moon, may possibly mean when the moon was in
opposition to the north; or mid-way between her setting and rising.--]

The 12th of April we set sail along shore, the wind being fresher, and
more large, at E.S.E. About noon it blew very hard with such impetuous
gusts that it drove the sands of the coast very high, raising them up
to the heavens in vast whirls like great smokes. About evening when the
barks draw together, the wind was entirely calm to some, while others a
little behind or before, or more towards the land or the sea, had it
still so violent that they could not carry sail, the distance between
those becalmed and those having the wind very fresh, being often no more
than a stones throw. Presently after, the wind would assail those before
becalmed, while those that went very swift were left in a calm. Being
all close together, this seemed as if done in sport. Some of these gales
came from the E. and E.N.E. so hot and scorching that they seemed like
flames of fire. The sand raised by these winds went sometimes one way
and sometimes another; and we could sometimes see one cloud or pillar of
sand driven in three or four different directions before it fell down.
These singular changes would not have been wonderful among hills; but
were very singular where we were at such a distance from the coast. When
these winds assailed us in this manner we were at a port named _Shaona_,
or _Shawna_; and going on in this manner, sometimes hoisting and at
other times striking our sails, sometimes laughing at what we saw, and
other times in dread, we went on till near sunset, when we entered a
port named _Gualibo_,[306] signifying in Arabic the port of trouble,
having advanced this day and part of the former night about 13 leagues.

[Footnote 306: Perhaps _Kalabon_.--Astl.]

From _Gadenauhi_ to a port named _Shakara_ which is encompassed by a
very red hill, the coast trends N.W. by N. and S.E. by S. the distance
about 10 leagues; and from this red hill to a point about a league
beyond _Gualibo_, the coast runs N.N.W. and S.S.E. distance about 6
leagues. In these 16 leagues, the coast is very clear, only that a
league beyond the Red Hill there is a shoal half a large league from the
land. In these 16 leagues there are many excellent ports, more numerous
than I have ever seen in so short a space. At one of these named
_Shawna_, which is very large, the Moors and native inhabitants say
there formerly stood a famous city of the gentiles, which I believe to
have been that named _Nechesia_ by Ptolomy in his third book of Africa.
Along the sea there runs a long range of great hills very close together
and doubling on each other, and far inland behind these great mountains
are seen to rise above them. In this range there are two mountains
larger than the rest, or even than any on the whole coast, one of which
is black as though it had been burnt, and the other is yellow, and
between them are great heaps of sand. From the black mountain inwards I
saw an open field in which were many large and tall trees with spreading
tops, being the first I had seen on the coast that seemed planted by
man; for those a little beyond Massua are of the kind pertaining to
marshes on the borders of the sea or of rivers; as those at the port of
_Sharm-al-Kiman_ and at the harbour of _Igidid_ are wild and pitiful,
naked and dry, without boughs or fruit. These two mountains are about
two leagues short of the port of _Sharm-al-Kiman_. _Gualibo_, which is
122 leagues beyond Swakem, is very like the port of _Sharm-al-Kiman_;
except that the one is environed by many mountains, while the land round
the other is an extensive plain. The entry to this port is between
certain rocks or shoals on which the sea breaks with much force, but the
entry is deep and large. After sunrise on the 13th we left the port of
_Gualibo_, and as the wind was strong at N.W. making a heavy sea, we
rowed along shore, and at ten in the morning went into a port named
_Tuna_, a league and half beyond _Gualibo_. _Tuna_ is a small foul
haven, beyond Swakem 123 leagues and a half, in lat. 25 deg. 30' N. The
entrance is between rocks, and within it is so much encumbered with
shoals and rocks that it is a small and sorry harbour; but round the
point forming the north side of this harbour, there is a good haven and
road-stead against the wind at N.W. the land round it being barren sand.
To the N.W. of this there are three sharp mountains of rock, as if to
indicate the situation of the harbour. One hour before sunset we
fastened ourselves to a shoal a league beyond _Tuna_. This coast, from a
league beyond _Gualibo_, to another point a league and a half beyond
this shoal, trends N.N.W. and S.S.E distance four leagues.

The 14th April we rowed along shore, the sea running very high so as to
distress the rowers; but beating up against wind and sea till past noon,
we came into a fine bay, in the bottom of which we came to anchor in an
excellent haven. This day and night we went about 5 leagues, and were
now about 129 leagues beyond Swakem. For these five leagues the coast
extends N.W. and S.E. the land within the coast being in some places low
and plain, while it is mountainous in others. By day-light on the 15th
we were a league short of _Al Kossir_, which we reached an hour and
half after sunrise, and cast anchor in the harbour. During the past
night and the short part of this day we had advanced about seven
leagues, the coast extending N.N.W. and S.S.E. According to Pliny, in
the sixth book of his Natural History, and Ptolomy in his third book of
Africa, this place of _Al Kossir_ was anciently named _Phioteras_[307].
All the land from hence to _Arsinoe_, at the northern extremity of the
Red Sea, was anciently called _Enco_. This place is about 15 or 16 days
journey from the nearest part of the Nile, directly west. This is the
only port on all this coast to which provisions are brought from the
land of Egypt, now called _Riffa_; and from this port of _Kossir_ all
the towns on the coast of the Red Sea are provided. In old times, the
town of _Kossir_ was built two leagues farther up the coast; but being
found incommodious, especially as the harbour at that place was too
small, it was removed to this place. To this day the ruins of old
_Kossir_ are still visible, and there I believe was _Philoteras_. New
_Kossir_ by observations twice verified is in lat. 26 deg.15' N. being 136
leagues beyond _Swakem_. The port is a large bay quite open to the
eastern winds, which on this coast blow with great force. Right over
against the town there are some small shoals on which the sea breaks,
between which and the shore is the anchorage for frigates and ships
coming here for a loading. The town is very small and perhaps in the
most miserable and barren spot in the world. The houses are more like
hovels for cattle, some built of stone and clay, and others of sod,
having no roofs except a few matts which defend the inhabitants from the
sun, and from rain if any happen now and then to fall as it were by
chance, as in this place it so seldom rains as to be looked upon as a
wonder. In the whole neighbouring country on the coast, fields,
mountains, or hills, there groweth no kind of herb, grass, tree, or
bush; and nothing is to be seen but black scorched mountains and a
number of bare hillocks, which environ the whole place from sea to sea,
like an amphitheatre of barrenness and sterility, most melancholy to
behold. Any flat ground there is, is a mere dry barren sand mixed with
gravel. The port even is the worst I have seen on all this coast, and
has no fish, though all the other ports and channels through which we
came have abundance and variety. It has no kind of cattle; and the
people are supplied from three wells near the town, the water of which
differs very little from that of the sea.

[Footnote 307: In Purchas, Al Kossir is named Alcocer. Don John thinks
this place to be the _Philoteras_ of Ptolomy; but Dr Pocock places it
2 deg.40' more to the north, making Kossir _Berenice_, which is highly
probable, as it is still the port of _Kept_, anciently Coptos, or of
_Kus_ near it, both on the Nile, as well as the nearest port to the Nile
on all that coast, which _Berenice_ was. Dr Pocock supposes old Kossir
to have been _Myos Hormos_: but we rather believe it to have been

The most experienced of the Moors had never heard of the name of
Egypt[308], but call the whole land from _Al Kossir_ to Alexandria by
the name of _Riffa_[309], which abounds in all kinds of victuals and
provisions more than any other part of the world, together with great
abundance of cattle, horses, and camels, there not being a single foot
of waste land in the whole country. According to the information I
received; their language and customs are entirely Arabic. The land, as I
was told, is entirely plain, on which it never rains except for a
wonder; but God hath provided a remedy by ordaining that the Nile should
twice a year[310] overflow its natural bounds to water the fields. They
said likewise that the Nile from opposite to _Al Kossir_, and far above
that towards the bounds of Abyssinia, was navigable all the way to
Alexandria; but having many islands and rocks, either it was necessary
to have good pilots or to sail only by day. They told me likewise that
the natives inhabited this barren spot of _Al Kossir_, as being the
nearest harbour on the coast of the Red Sea to the Nile, whence
provisions were transported; and that the inhabitants were satisfied
with slight matts instead of roofs to their houses because not troubled
with rain, and the matts were a sufficient protection from the sun: but
made their walls of stone to defend themselves against the malignity and
rapaciousness of the _Badwis_, a perverse people, void of all goodness,
who often suddenly assaulted the place in hope of plunder, and
frequently pillaged the caravans coming across from the Nile with
provisions and other commodities.

[Footnote 308: No wonder, as _Messr_ is the name by which Egypt is known
to the Arabs.--E.]

[Footnote 309: More properly _Al Rif_, which name more particularly
belongs to part of Lower Egypt.--Ast.]

[Footnote 310: This is erroneous, as the Nile only overflows once

The 18th of April we fastened ourselves to a shoal about four leagues
past _Kossir_, and set sail from thence at noon. The 19th, about half
an hour past eight o'clock, while proceeding with fine weather, we were
suddenly taken aback by a fierce gust at N.N.W. which obliged us to take
shelter in an island called _Suffange-al-bahar_[311] or
_Saffanj-al-bahr_, losing 4 or 5 leagues of way that we had already
advanced. The name given to this island means in the Arabic a
_sea-sponge_. It is 13 leagues beyond _Al Kossir_, in lat. 27 deg. N. being
in length about two leagues by about a quarter in breadth, all of sand
without trees or water. Its harbour is good in all weathers; but upon
the main land the number of bays, ports, and harbours about this place
are wonderful. The best channel here is between the island, and the
main, along the coast of the continent, as on the side next the island
there are some shoals. Likewise in the northern entry to this port there
are other shoals which need not be feared in coming in by day, and in
the southern entrance there is a large rock in the very middle. The 20th
at sunset we were about six leagues beyond this island of
Safanj-al-bahr. From which island to a sandy, point about 1-1/2 league
beyond, the coast trends N.N.W. and S.S.E. and from this point forwards
to the end of the six leagues, the coast winds inwards to landwards
forming a large bay, within which are many islands, ports, creeks, bays,
and notable harbours. The 21st by day we were fast to the shore of an
island called Sheduam, and the wind being calm, we rowed along the coast
of the island, which, opposite to Arabia or the east side, is high and
craggy, all of hard rock, three leagues long and two broad. This island
is 20 leagues beyond _Al Kossir_, having no water nor any trees. It is
between the two coasts of Arabia and Egypt, being five leagues from
either. Beyond it to the north-west are three small low islands with
shoals among them. An hour after sunset, we were upon the north cape or
point of this island, whence we crossed towards the Arabian coast[312],
and having no wind we took to our oars. Within a little it began to blow
fair from the S.E. and we set sail steering N.W. At eleven next morning,
we were upon the coast of the Stony Arabia, and soon sailed along its
shore, entering two hours before sunset into the port _Toro_ or _Al
Tor_, which may be seen front the island of Sheduam, distant 12 leagues,
bearing N. by W. and S. by E.

[Footnote 311: _Safanj-al-Bahr_. In Arabic _Safanj, Sofinj_ and
_Isfanj_, all signify _Sponge_, which is obviously derived from the
Arabic word.--Ast.]

[Footnote 312: Probably meaning that part of Arabia between the Gulf of
Suez and the Bahr-akkaba, called the promontory of Tor, of which Cape
Mahomed forms the S.W. extremity,--E.]

_Toro_ or _Al Tor_ was of old called _Elana_, as may be seen in the
writings of Ptolomy, Strabo, and other ancient writers, although our
observation of the latitude differs materially from theirs. But they
shew that _Elana_ was situated in the most inward part of a very great
gulf, called _Sinus Elaniticus_[313], from the name of this place
_Elana_, and in lat. 29 deg.15' N. Now we know that _Toro_ is in lat. 28 deg.10'
N.[314] and lies upon a very long and straight coast. The cause of this
great difference, if these places be the same, may have proceeded from
erroneous information given to Ptolomy and the other ancient
cosmographers. But that ancient _Elana_ and modern _Toro_ are the same,
appears from this, that from thence to Suez both on the Arabian and
Egyptian coasts of the Elanitic Gulf, not only is there no memorial or
remains of any other ancient town, and the barrenness of the country,
want of water, and rough craggy mountains, make it evident that in no
other place could there be any habitation. Hence, considering that
Ptolomy places Elana on the coast of _Arabia Petrea_, near adjoining to
mount Sinai, and makes no mention of any town between it and the _City
of Heroes_ on the upmost extremity of the Elanitic Gulf where the sea
ends; and as on this shore of Arabia there is neither town, village, nor
habitation, coming so near the position assigned to _Elana_ as _Toro_,
and as it is impossible to inhabit between _Toro_ and _Suez_, it seems
just to conclude that _Toro_ and _Elana_ are the same place. The port of
_Toro_ seems likewise that mentioned in holy writ under the name of
_Ailan_, where Solomon, king of Israel, caused the ships to be built
which sailed to _Tarsis_ and _Ophir_ to bring gold and silver for the
temple of Jerusalem: for taking away the second letter from _Ailan_, the
ancient names are almost the same. Nor is it reasonable that it should
be in any other place, as the timber for the navy of Solomon was brought
from Lebanon and Antelibanus; and to avoid expences they would
necessarily carry it to the nearest port, especially as the Jews then
possessed the region of Idumea, and that part of the coast of Arabia
Petrea which is between Toro and Suez. Strabo holds that _Elana_ and
_Ailan_ are the same city; and when treating of this city in another
place, he says, that from the port of _Gaza_ it is 1260 furlongs to the
city of Ailan, which is situated on the _inwardest_ part of the Arabic
Gulf[315]; "and there are two, one towards Gaza and Arabia, called the
Sinus Elaniticus, from the city Elana which stands upon it; the other on
the Egyptian side towards the _City of Heroes_ and the way from
_Pelusium_ to this gulf is very small." This is what I would pick out
from ancient authors.

[Footnote 313: Don Juan entirely mistakes this point of antiquity, in
consequence of not having learnt that there was another and eastern gulf
at the head of the Red Sea; the _Bahr-akkaba_ or real _Sinus
Elaniticus_, on which is the town of _Ayla_, assuredly the ancient
_Elana_ or _Aylan_.--E.]

[Footnote 314: If this observation be exact, the great promontory or
peninsula between the gulfs at the head of the Red Sea must be extended
too far south in the map constructed by Dr Pocock.--Ast.]

[Footnote 315: Had Don Juan de Castro been acquainted with the eastern
gulf at the head of the Red Sea, called the _Bahr-akkaba_, he would have
more readily chosen _Ayla_ for the seat of _Ailan_, and the dock-yard of
the navy of Solomon, being at the _inwardest_ part of the Red Sea, and
the port nearest to Gaza. Besides, the portion of the text marked with
inverted commas, seems a quotation by Don Juan from Strabo, which
distinctly indicates the eastern or Elanitic Gulf, and points to _Ayla_
as the seat of Elana and _Ailan_, and distinctly marks the other or
western gulf, now that of Suez.--E.]

"As this is a point of great moment in geography, it deserves to be
examined[316]. It is observable that Don Juan admits that both Ptolemy
and Strabo make the Red Sea terminate to the north in two large gulfs,
one towards Egypt and the other towards Arabia, at the end of which
latter they place _Elana_. Yet here he rejects the authority of both
geographers, alleging that both were mistaken, because Tor is situated
on a very long and straight coast. He likewise cites Ptolomy as making
the latitude of Elana 29 deg.15' N.[317] yet accounts the difference between
that position and the altitude found at Al Tor, 20 deg.10', as of no
significance here, though in former instances he had held the tables of
Ptolomy as infallible. It is still stranger that Don Juan should after
all admit of a gulf of _Elana_, as will be seen presently, and yet place
it at a great distance, and at the opposite side of the sea from that on
which Elana stands. However this may be, it is certain that Don Juan,
and not the ancients, has been misinformed on this matter; for not only
the _Arab_ geographers give a particular account of this eastern gulf,
as will appear from the description of the Red Sea by _Abulfeda_, but
its existence has been proved, by two English travellers, Dr Shaw and Dr
Pocock. The errors which Don Juan has here fallen into, has been owing
to not having examined the coast on the side of Arabia; for until the
fleet came to the island of Sheduam, it had sailed entirely along the
African shore; and then, leaving the north part of that island, it
passed over to the coast of Arabia[318] for the first time, where it may
be presumed that they fell in with the land some way to the north of the
S.W. point of the great peninsula between the two gulfs. This cape in
the maps by De L'Isle and Dr Pocock is called _Cape Mahomet_. Still
however as the island of Sheduam seems to lie nearer the eastern gulf;
its north end being at least eighteen or twenty miles to the southward
of Cape Mahomet, it is surprising that Don Juan and the whole fleet
should overlook that gulf, which indeed was done before by the Venetian
who sailed along the Arabian shore in the fleet of Solyman Pacha. What
Don Juan says about the identity of _Elana_ and _Ailan_ or _Aylan_ we
shall not contend about, as the authority of Strabo, and the similarity
of names are strong proofs. But we shall presently see that the Arabs
place _Aylan_ at the head of a great gulf; and the distance he cites
from Strabo, 1260 stadia from Gaza to Aylan, supposing it to be exact,
is a proof that _Aylan_ cannot be the same with _Toro_. We shall only
observe farther, that the positive denial by Don Juan of there being any
such gulf as the _Elanitic_ on the east or side of Arabia, may have been
the reason why it was not laid down in the maps of _Sanson_, or by any
geographer before _De L'Isle_."--Ast. I. 124. a.

[Footnote 316: This paragraph, marked by inverted commas, is a
dissertation by the editor of Astleys Collection, too important to be
omitted, and too long for a note.--E.]

[Footnote 317: The latitude of Ayla in modern maps is about 29 deg.10' N.
having a very near coincidence.--E.]

[Footnote 318: Properly speaking only to the Arabian coast of the Gulf
of Suez, not at all to the Arabian coast of the Red Sea.--E.]

The city of _Toro_ or _Al Tor_ is built on the sea-side along an
extensive and fair strand or beach, and about a cannon-shot before
coming to it we saw twelve palm-trees close together very near the sea;
and from these a plain field extends to the foot of some high hills.
These hills are part of a chain which extends from the straits of Ormuz
or Persian Gulf, and which extend hither along the coast very high above
the sea as far as Toro, where they leave the coast, "and with a great
and sudden violence return from thence to the main towards the
north-east, as angry and wearied by so long neighbourhood of the
waters." _Arabia Petrea_ is divided by three mountains from _Arabia
Felix,_ and on the highest tops of them some Christians lead holy and
quiet lives. A little way beyond Toro, on the borders of the sea, a
mountain begins to rise by little and little; and thrusting out a large
high cape or promontory, seems to those in the town like three great and
mighty separate mountains. This town of Tor is small but well situated,
all its inhabitants being Christians who speak Arabic. It has a
monastery of friars of the order of _Monserrat_, in which is the oracle
or image of _Santa Catalina_ of Mount Sinai or St Catharine. These
friars are all Greeks. The harbour of Toro is not large, but very
secure, having opposite to the shore a long stony bank, between which
and the shore is the harbour. At this place both the coasts of the gulf
are only about three leagues distant.

Being desirous to learn some particulars concerning this country, I made
myself acquainted with the friars, from whom I had the following
information. They told me that Mount Sinai was _thirteen_ small days
journey into the land, or about 18 leagues[319]. The mountain is very
high, the country around being plain and open, having on its borders a
great town inhabited by Christians, into which no Mahometan can enter
except he who gathers the rents and duties belonging to the Turks. On
the top of the mountain is a monastery having many friars, where the
body of the blessed Virgin St Catharine lay buried. According to Anthony
bishop of Florence, the body of this Holy Virgin was carried away by the
angels from the city of Alexandria and buried on Mount Sinai. They told
me farther that about four months before our arrival this most blessed
and holy body was carried from the mountain with great pomp, on a
triumphal chariot all gilt, to the city of Cairo, where the Christians
of that city, which are the bulk of the inhabitants, came out to receive
it in solemn procession, and set it with great honour in a monastery.
The cause of this strange removal was the many insults which the
monastery on Mount Sinai suffered from the Arabs, from whom the friars
and pilgrims had often to redeem themselves with money; of which the
Christians of Cairo complained to the Turkish governor, and received
permission to bring the blessed and holy body to their city, which was
done accordingly, in spite of a strenuous opposition from the friars of
Mount Sinai. I am somewhat doubtful of the truth of this
transportation, suspecting that the friars may have trumped up this
story lest we might have taken the holy body from them, as they expected
us with an army of 10,000 men. Yet they affirmed it for truth,
expressing great sorrow for the removal. These friars told me likewise
that several hermits lead a solitary and holy life in these mountains
over against the town; and that all through the Stony Arabia, there are
many towns of Christians. I asked if they knew where the Jews had passed
the Red Sea; but they knew of no certain place, only that it must have
been somewhere between _Toro_ and _Suez_. They said likewise, that on
the Arabian coast of the Gulf, two or three leagues short of Suez, was
the fountain which Moses caused to spring from the rock by striking it
with his rod, being still called by the Arabs the fountain of Moses, the
water of which is purer and more pleasant than any other. They said that
from _Toro_ to _Cairo_ by land was seven ordinary days journey, in which
the best and most direct way was through Suez: But that since the
Turkish gallies came to Suez they had changed the road, going two
leagues round to avoid Suez, after which they turned to the west.

[Footnote 319: Surely this passage should be only _three_ short days

I afterwards conversed with a very honest, learned and curious
Mahometan, whom I asked if he could tell where the Jews crossed the Red
Sea; on which he told me that both in tradition and in some old writings
it was said that the Jews, fleeing from the Egyptians, arrived on the
coast of Egypt directly opposite to _Toro_, where Moses prayed to God
for deliverance, and struck the sea twelve times with his rod, on which
it opened in twelve several paths, by which the Jews passed over to the
other side to where _Toro_ now stands; after which the Egyptians
entering into these paths were all destroyed to the number of about
600,000 men. That from _Toro_ Moses led the Israelites to Mount Sinai,
where Moses spake many times with God. I approved much of this opinion;
for if the passage had been at Suez, as some insist, the Egyptians had
no occasion to have entered into the sea for persecuting the Jews, as
they could have gone round the bay and got before them, more especially
as they were horsemen and the Jews all on foot. For though all these
things came about by a miracle, we see always on like occasions there is
a shew and manner of reason. I asked of this Moor if it were true that
the Christians of Cairo had carried away the body of St Catharine from
Mount Sinai; but he said he had never heard of it, neither did he
believe the story; and that only four months before he had been in
Cairo, which city they call _Mecara_[320], where he heard of no such
thing. He thought likewise that the Christians about Mount Sinai would
never have permitted such a thing, as they all considered that woman as
a saint, and held her body in great reverence. He told me also that two
or three leagues before coming to _Suez_ there is a fountain which was
given to the Jews at the intercession of Moses, whom they call _Muzau_,
the water of which surpasses all others in goodness. On inquiring what
kind of a place was the town of _Suez_, he said he had never been there,
as no person could enter that town except those appointed by the
governor of Cairo for taking care of the gallies, nor come nearer than
two leagues under pain of death.

[Footnote 320: Mecara, perhaps by mistake for Mecara or Mezara, which is
very near Mesr as it is called by the Turks. Cairo is an Italian
corruption of Kahera or al Kahira--Astl.]


_Continuation of the Voyage from Taro or al Tor to Suez._

We set sail the day after our arrival at Toro, being the 23d of April
1541, and on the 24th we were in the lat. of 27 deg. 17' N. At this place,
which is 20 leagues beyond Toro and 52 leagues from _al Kossir_, the
land of Egypt, or that coast of the Red Sea which continueth all the way
from Abyssinia, comes out into the sea with a very long and low point,
which winds a great way inwards to the land and more crooked than any
other I have seen. After forming a large fine bay, it juts out into a
large high cape or point, which is three short leagues from _Suez_, at
the other extremity of this bay, and from that first promontory to
_Suez_ the land bears N.W. by N. and S.E. by S. The shore of this bay is
very high and rough, and at the same time entirely parched and barren.
The whole of this large bay, except very near the shore, is so deep that
we had no ground with fifty fathom, and the bottom is a soft sand lake
ouze. This bay I hold to have been undoubtedly the _Sinus Elaniticus_ of
the ancients, though Strabo and Ptolemy, being both deceived in regard
to its situation, placed it on the coast of Stony Arabia at _Toro_.
This I mentioned before, when describing _Toro_, that Strabo says the
Arabian Gulf ends in two bays, one called _Elaniticus_ on the Arabian
side, and the other on the Egyptian side where stands the _City of
Heroes_[321]. Ptolemy evidently fixes the _elanitic sinus_ on the coast
of Arabia, where Toro now stands; which is very wonderful, considering
that Ptolemy Was born in Alexandria, where he wrote his Cosmography and
resided all his life, and which city is so very near these places.

[Footnote 321: No description can be more explicit: but Don John
unfortunately knew not of the eastern _sinus_, and found himself
constrained to find both _sinuses_ in one gulf.--E.]

The 26th of April we set sail, and at eleven o'clock we lowered our
sails, rowing along shore, where we cast anchor. Two hours before sunset
we weighed again with the wind at north and rowed along shore; and
before the sun set we anchored behind a point of land on the Arabian
shore, which sheltered us effectually from the north wind, having
advanced only a league and a half this day. This point is three _small_
leagues short of _Suez_, and is directly east of the N.W. point of the
Great Gulf, distance about a league. From this point, about half a
league inland, is the fountain of Moses already mentioned. As soon as we
had cast anchor we went on shore, whence we saw the end of this sea,
which we had hitherto thought without end, and could plainly see the
masts of the Turkish ships. All this gave us much satisfaction, yet
mixed with much anxiety. As the wind blew hard all night from the north,
we remained at anchor behind the point till day.

On the morning of the 27th, the wind blowing hard at N.N.W. we remained
at anchor till ten, when we departed from the point and made for Suez
with our oars. When about a league from the end of the sea, I went
before with two _catures_ to examine the situation of Suez and to look
out for a proper landing-place. We got close up to Suez about three
o'clock in the afternoon, where we saw many troops of horse in the
field, and two great bands of foot-soldiers in the town, who made many
shots at us from a blockhouse. The Turkish navy at this place consisted
of forty-one large gallies, and nine great ships. Having completed the
examination, and returned to our fleet, we all went to the point of land
to the west of the bay, and came to anchor near the shore in five
fathoms water, in an excellent harbour, the bottom a fine soft sand.

It is certain that in ancient times Suez was called the _City of
Heroes_, for it differs in nothing as to latitude situation and bearings
from what is said in Ptolomy, Table III. of Africa. More especially as
Suez is seated on the uttermost coast of the nook or bay where the sea
of Mecca ends, on which the City of Heroes was situated, as Strabo
writes in his XVII book thus: "The city of _Heroes_, or of _Cleopatra_,
by some called _Arsinoe_, is in the uttermost bounds of the _Sinus
Arabicus_, which is towards Egypt.". Pliny, in the VI. book of his
Natural History, seems to call the port of Suez _Danao_, on account of
the trench or canal opened between the Nile and the Red Sea. The
latitude of Suez is 29 deg. 45' N. being the nearest town and port of the
Red Sea to the great city of Cairo, called anciently _Babylon_ of Egypt.
From Suez to the _Levant Sea_ or Mediterranean, at that mouth of one of
the seven branches of the Nile which is called _Pelusium_, is about 40
leagues by land, which space is called the _isthmus_, or narrow neck of
land between the two seas. On this subject Strabo writes in his XVII.
book, "The isthmus between Pelusium and the extreme point of the Arabian
Gulf where stands the _City of Heroes_, is 900 stadia." This is the port
of the Red Sea to which Cleopatra Queen of Egypt, after the victory
obtained by Augustus over Antony, commanded ships to be carried by land
from the Nile, that they might flee to the Indians.

Sesostris King of Egypt and Darius King of Persia undertook at different
periods to dig a canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, on purpose to
open a navigable communication between the Mediterranean and the Indian
ocean; but as neither of them completed the work, Ptolomy made a trench
100 feet broad and 30 feet deep, which being nearly finished, he
discontinued lest the sea-water from the Arabian Gulf might render the
water of the Nile salt and unfit for use. Others say that, on taking the
level, the architects and masters of the work found that the Sea of
Arabia was _three cubits_ higher than the land of Egypt, whence it was
feared that all the country would be inundated and destroyed. The
ancient authors on this subject are Diodorus Siculus, Pliny, Pomponius
Mela, Strabo, and many other cosmographers[322].

[Footnote 322: This communication was actually opened about A.D. 685,
by _Amru_, who conquered Egypt for _Moawiah_, the first _Ommiyan
Khalifah_ of Damascus. It was called _al Khalij al Amir al Momenein_, or
the canal of the commander of the faithful, the title of the Caliphs. It
was shut up about 140 years afterwards by _Abu Jafar al Mansur_.--Astl.]

Although the town of Suez had a great name of old, it is small enough at
this time, and I believe had been utterly ruined and abandoned if the
Turkish navy had not been stationed here. In the front of the land which
faces the south where this sea ends there is the mouth of a small creek
or arm of the sea entering a short way into the land, which extends
towards the west till stopped by a hillock, the only one that rises in
these parts: Between which creek and the bay or ending of the sea is a
very long and narrow tongue or spit of sand, on which the gallies and
ships of the Turks lie aground; and on which the ancient and warlike
City of the Heroes is seated[323]. There still remains a small castle,
without which are two high ancient towers, the remains of the City of
Heroes which stood here in old times. But on the point of land where the
creek enters there is a great and mighty bulwark of modern structure,
which defends the entry of the creek, and scours the coast behind the
sterns of the gallies if any one should attempt to land in that place.
Besides this, there runs between the gallies and the strand, an
entrenchment like a ridge or long hill, making the place very strong and
defensible. Having considered this place attentively, it seemed to me
impossible to land in any part except behind the little mountain on the
west at the head of the creek, as we should be there free from the
Turkish artillery, and likewise the possession of this hillock might
contribute to our success against the enemy. But it is necessary to
consider that all along this strand the water is shoaly for the breadth
of a bow-shot, and the ground a soft sticking clay or sinking sand, as I
perceived by examining the ground from the foist or cature, which would
be very prejudicial to the men in landing.

[Footnote 323: This description does not agree with the map or relation
of Dr Pocock; which makes the sea terminate in two bays, divided by the
tongue of land on which Suez stands. That to the N.W. is very wide at
the mouth, and is properly the termination of the western gulf of the
Red Sea. The other on the N.E. is narrow at the entrance; and is divided
by another tongue of land into two parts.--Astl.]

In regard to the particulars which I learnt concerning Suez, as told me
by some of the men I met with, especially the Moor formerly mentioned
whom I conversed with at Toro, I was informed that at the fountain of
Moses, formerly mentioned as three leagues from Suez towards _Toro_,
there had been a great city in old times, of which they say dome
buildings or ruins are still to be seen; but they could not say what had
been its name. They told me also that the remains of the canal attempted
to be made in old times from the Nile at the city of Cairo to Suez were
still to be seen, though much defaced and filled by length of time, and
that those who travel from Suez to Cairo have necessarily to pass these
remains. Some alleged that this trench was not intended for navigation
between the Nile and the Red sea, but merely to bring water from the
Nile for the supply of Suez. They told me that the whole country from
Suez to Cairo was a sandy plain, quite barren and without water, being
three days journey going at leisure, or about 15 leagues. That in Suez
and the country round it seldom rained, but when it did at any time it
was very heavy; and that the north-wind blew at Suez the whole year with
great force.

From _Toro_ to _Suez_ it is 28 leagues, without any island bank or shoal
in the whole way that can impede the navigation. Departing from Toro by
the middle of the channel, the ran for the first 16 leagues is N.W. by
N. from S.E. by S. in all of which space the two coasts are about an
equal distance from each other, or about three leagues asunder. At the
end of these 16 or 17 leagues, the coasts begin to close very much, so
that the opposite shores are only one league distant, which narrowness
continues for two leagues; after which the Egyptian coast withdraws very
much towards the west, making the large fine bay formerly mentioned. The
mid channel from the end of the before mentioned 16 or 17 leagues, till
we come to the N.W. point of this bay trends N.N.W. and S.S.E. the
distance being 8 leagues. In this place the lands again approach very
much, as the Arabian shore thrusts out a very long low point, and the
Egyptian coast sends out a very large and high point at the end of the
bay on the N.W. side, these points being only a little more than one
league asunder. From these points to Suez and the end of this sea, the
coasts wind inwards on each side, making another bay somewhat more than
two leagues and a half long and one league and a half broad, where this
sea, so celebrated in holy scripture and by profane authors, has its
end. The middle of this bay extends N. and S. with some deflection to
W. and E. respectively, distance two leagues and a half. On the coast
between Toro and Suez, on the Arabian side, a hill rises about a
gun-shot above Toro very near the sea, which is all bespotted with red
streaks from side to side, giving it a curious appearance. This hill
continues along the coast for 15 or 16 leagues, but the red streaks do
not continue more than six leagues beyond Toro. At the end of the 15 or
16 leagues this ridge rises into a great and high knoll, after which the
ridge gradually recedes from the sea, and ends about a league short of
Suez. Between the high knoll and Suez along the sea there is a very low
plain, in some places a league in breadth, and in others nearer Suez a
league and half. Beside this hill towards Toro I saw great heaps of
sand, reaching in some places to the top of the hill, yet were there no
sands between the hill and the sea: "Likewise by the clefts and breaches
many broken sands were driven," whence may be understood how violent the
cross winds blow here, as they snatch up and drive the sand from out of
the sea and lift it to the tops of the hills. These cross winds, as I
noticed by the lying of the sands, were from the W. and the W.N.W.

On the other or Egyptian side of this gulf, between Toro and Suez, there
run certain great and very high hills or mountains appearing over the
sea coast; which about 17 leagues above Toro open in the middle as low
as the plain field, after which they rise as high as before, and
continue along the shore to within a league of Suez, where they entirely
cease. I found the ebb and flow of the sea between Toro and Suez quite
conformable with what has been already said respecting other parts of
the coast, and neither higher nor lower: Whence appears the falsehood of
some writers, who pretend that no path was opened through this sea for
the Israelites by miracle; but merely that the sea ebbed so much in this
place that they waited the ebb and passed over dry. I observed that
there were only two places in which it could have been possible for
Sesostris and Ptolomy kings of Egypt, to have dug canals from the Nile
to the Red-Sea: One of these by the breach of the mountains on the
Egyptian coast 17 leagues above Toro, and 11 short of Suez; and the
other by the end of the nook or bay on which Suez stands; as at this
place the hills on both sides end, and all the land remains quite plain
and low, without hillocks or any other impediment. This second appears
to me to be much more convenient for so great a work than the other,
because the land is very low, the distance shorter, and there is a haven
at Suez. All the rest of the coast is lined by great and high mountains
of hard rock. Hence Suez must be the place to which Cleopatra commanded
the ships to be brought across the isthmus, a thing of such great labour
that shortness was of most material importance: Here likewise for the
same reason must have been the trench or canal from the Nile to the Red
Sea; more especially as all the coast from Toro upwards is waste, and
without any port till we come to Suez.

During all the time which we spent between Toro and Suez, the heaven was
constantly overcast with thick black clouds, which seemed contrary to
the usual nature of Egypt; as all concur in saying that it never rains
in that country, and that the heavens are never obscured by clouds or
vapours: But perhaps the sea raises these clouds at this place, and
farther inland the sky might be clear; as we often see in Portugal that
we have clear pleasant weather at Lisbon, while at Cintra only four
leagues distant, there are great clouds mists and rain. The sea between
Toro and Suez is subject to sudden and violent tempests; as when the
wind blows from the north, which is the prevailing wind here, although
not very great, the sea is wonderfully raised, the waves being
everywhere so coupled together and broken that they are very dangerous.
This is not occasioned by shallow water, as this channel is very deep,
only that on the Egyptian side it is somewhat shoaly close to the shore.
"About this place I saw certain _sea foams_ otherwise called _evil
waters_, the largest I had ever seen, being as large as a target, of a
whitish dun colour. These do not pass lower than Toro; but below that
there are infinite small ones, which like the other are bred in and go
about the sea[324]." While between Toro and Suez, though the days were
insufferably hot, the nights were colder than any I ever met with.

[Footnote 324: This passage respecting _sea foams_ or _evil waters_ is
altogether unintelligible, unless perhaps some obscure allusion to
_water-spouts_ maybe supposed.--E.]


_Return Voyage from Suez to Massua._

In the morning of the 28th of April 1541 we departed from before Suez on
our return to Massua[325]. At sunset we were one league short of a sharp
red peak on the coast, 20 leagues from Suez. At night we took in our
sails and continued along shore under our foresails only, the wind
blowing hard at N.N.W. Two hours within the night, we came to anchor
near the shore in 3 fathoms, the heavens being very dark and covered by
many thick black clouds. The 29th we weighed in the morning, and came
into the port of Toro at nine o'clock, but soon weighed again, and came
to anchor a league farther on, in a haven called _Solymans watering
place_, where we took in water, digging pits in the sand a stones throw
from the sea, where we got abundance of brackish water. Leaving this
place in the morning of the 30th, we anchored at 10 in the morning at
the first of the three islands, which are two leagues N.W. of the island
of _Sheduam_. I went on shore here with my pilot, when we took the suns
altitude a little less than 80 deg.; and as the declination that day was
17 deg.36' the latitude of this island is 27 deg.40' N. At sunset on the 1st of
May we set sail, and by even-song time we came to an island, two leagues
long, which thrusts out a point very close to the main land, between
which and the island is a singularly good harbour for all weathers, fit
for all the ships in the world. The 2d at sunset we came to anchor in
the port of _Goelma_[326], which is safe from N. and N.W. winds, but
only fit for small vessels. A short space within the land is the dry bed
of a brook, having water during the floods of winter descending from the
mountains. Digging a little way we found fresh water. There is a well
here also, but not abundant in water. This port, the name of which
signifies in Arabic _the port of water_, is N.N.W. of _al Kessir_,
distant 4 leagues.

[Footnote 325: The fleet seems only to have been before Suez from 3
o'clock on the afternoon of the 27th of April till the morning of next
day the 28th, or rather Don Juan only went forwards to examine the
possibility of landing. Yet De Faria says, II. 23. "That after many
brave attempts made by several to view and sound the harbour, Don
Stefano landed with his men, and being repulsed, chiefly by means of an
ambush of 2000 horse, was obliged to retire." The silence of Don John
respecting any military operations, and the shortness of time, leaves
hardly room to suppose that any were attempted.--E.]

[Footnote 326: Rather Kallama or Kalla'lma,--Astl.]

The 4th of May we rowed along shore, and came to anchor near sunset, in
a small but excellent harbour named _Azallaihe_, two leagues S.E. beyond
_Shakara_ between that place and the _black hillock_. We lay at anchor
all night, the wind at N.N.W. _Bohalel Shame_ is a deep, safe, and
capacious port, in which many ships may ride at anchor. It was named
from one Bohalel, a rich chief of the _Badwis_ who dwelt in the inland
country, and used to sell cattle to the ships frequenting this port.
_Shame_ signifies land or country; so that _Bohalel Shame_ signifies the
Land of Bohalel[327]. At this place we found an honourable tomb within a
house like a chapel, in which hung a silk flag or standard, with many
arrows or darts round the grave, and the walls were hung round with many
bulls[328]. On an upright slab or table at the head of the grave there
was a long inscription or epitaph, and about the house there were many
sweet-scented waters and other perfumes. From the Moors and Arabs I was
informed that an Arabian of high rank of the lineage of Mahomet was here
buried; and that the _Sharifs_ of Jiddah and other great prelates gave
indulgences and pardons to all who visited his sepulchre: But the
Portuguese sacked the house and afterwards burnt it, so that no vestige
was left. On the shore of this harbour we saw many footsteps of tigers
and goats, as if they had come here in search of water.

[Footnote 327: Rather perhaps _Bohalel Shomeh_, meaning the lot or
portion of Bohalel.--Astl.]

[Footnote 328: Perhaps _Bells_.--E.]

Having often occasion to mention the _Badwis_ or _Bedouins_ while
voyaging along the coasts of their country, it may be proper to give
some account of that people. These _Badwis_ are properly the
_Troglodites ophiofagi_, of whom Ptolemy, Pomponius Mela, and other
ancient writers make mention. These _Badwis_ or _Troglodites_ live on
the mountains and sea-coasts from _Melinda_ and _Magadoxa_ to Cape
_Guardafu_, and thence all along the coasts of the Red Sea on both
sides, and along the outer coast of Arabia through the whole coast of
the Persian Gulf; all of which land they may be more properly said to
occupy than to inhabit. In Good Arabic, _Badwi_ signifies one who lives
only by cattle[329]. Those who dwell along the Red Sea from _Zeyla_ to
_Swakem_, and thence to _al Kossir_, are continually at war with the
_Nubii_ or _Nubians_; while those from _Kossir_ to _Suez_ perpetually
molest the Egyptians. On the eastern coast of the Red Sea the _Badwis_
have incessant contests with the Arabians. They are wild men, among whom
there is no king or great lord, but they live in tribes or factions,
allowing of no towns in their country, neither have they any fixed
habitations, but live a vagabond life, wandering from place to place
with their cattle. They abhor all laws and ordinances, neither will they
admit of their differences being judged of by any permanent customs or
traditions, but rather that their sheiks or chiefs shall determine
according to their pleasure. They dwell in caves and holes, but most of
them in tents or huts. In colour they are very black, and their language
is Arabic. They worship Mahomet, but are very bad Mahometans, being
addicted beyond all other people on earth to thievery and rapine. They
eat raw flesh, and milk is their usual drink. Their habits are vile and
filthy; but they run with wonderful swiftness. They fight afoot or on
horseback, darts being their chief weapons, and are almost continually
at war with their neighbours.

[Footnote 329: _Badwi_, or more properly _Badawi_, signifies a dweller
in the field or in the desert; corruptly called by us Bedouin.--Astl.]

By day-light of the 10th May we weighed anchor from the port of
_Igidid_[330], and an hour before sunset we fastened our barks to a
shoal about four leagues south of _Farate_. In this shoal there is an
excellent harbour, lying almost E.S.E. and W.N.W. but very crooked and
winding, so large that we could not see to the other end. The 22d of
May[331], by day-break, we were a league short of the grove which stands
four leagues north of _Massua_, having the wind from the land. At nine
o'clock it began to blow fair from the N.N.E. and we entered the port of
Massua at noon, where we were joyfully received by the fleet and army.
From the 22d of May, when we entered Massua, the winds were always from
the easterly points, either E. or S.E. or E.S.E. often with great
storms. On the last day of June we had so violent a gale from S.E. that
the galleons drifted and were in great danger of grounding. This storm
was attended by heavy rain and fearful thunders, and a thunderbolt
struck the mast of one of our galleons, which furrowed it in its whole
length. On the 2d of July we had another great storm from the east which
lasted most of the day, and drove many of our vessels from their
anchors. From thence to the 7th of July we had other storms, but small
in comparison. On the 8th and 9th we had two desperate gales from the

[Footnote 330: Either Don Juan or his abbreviator has omitted part of
the Journal at this place, from the port of _Azallaihe_ to that of

[Footnote 331: Here again a considerable portion of the Journal is


_Return of the Expedition from Massua to India_.

Having remained 48 days at Massua, we set sail from thence on our return
to India on the 9th of July 1541, one hour before sunrise, and by
day-break we were two or three leagues short of the north point of
_Dallak_, and among some flat islands that have some woods, which
islands are scattered in the sea to the north of Dallak. We sailed
through a channel between two of these islands, having a fair wind
almost N.W. our course being N.E. by N. After doubling a shoal we came
to anchor, and at two in the afternoon we sailed again with a fair wind
at N.N.E. coasting the island of Dallak. An hour before sunset we came
to a very flat sandy island, called _Dorat Melkuna_, from which on all
sides extended great shoals. When the sun set we were a league short of
the island of _Shamoa_, between which and the west side of Dallak,
opposite the Abyssinian coast, is the most frequented channel for such
as sail to Massua. All the coast of Dallak which we sailed along this
day trends N.N.W. and S.S.E. and is very low. The 18th of July by day
break we saw the mouth of the straits[332], about three leagues distant,
"and we saw all the fleet _lye at hull_, and presently we set sail

[Footnote 332: A large portion of the Journal is again omitted at this
place, either by Don Juan or his abbreviator, Purchas.--E.]

[Footnote 333: Perhaps in coming in sight of the Strait, the ship of Don
Juan was so much in advance as barely to see the hulls of the rest; and
lay to till the rest came up.--E.]

Before leaving the Gulf of Arabia or of Mecca, it may be proper to
consider the reason why the ancients called this Gulf the _Red Sea_, and
to give my own opinion founded on what I actually saw, whether it differ
in colour from the great ocean. In the _sixth_ book of his Natural
History, Pliny quotes several opinions as the origin of the name
_Erythros_ given to this sea by the ancients[334]. The first is, that it
took its name from _Erythra_, a king who once reigned on its borders,
whence came _Erythros_ which signifies _red_ in the Greek. Another
opinion was that the reflexion of the sun-beams gave a red colour to
this sea. Some hold that the red colour proceeds from the sand and
ground along the sea coast, and others that the water was red itself. Of
these opinions every writer chose that he liked best. The Portuguese who
formerly navigated this sea affirmed that it was spotted or streaked
with red, arising as they alleged from the following circumstances. They
say that the coast of Arabia is naturally very red, and as there are
many great storms in this country, which raise great clouds of dust
towards the skies, which are driven by the wind into the sea, and the
dust being _red_ tinges the water of that colour, whence it got the name
of the Red Sea.

[Footnote 334: By Dr. Hyde, in his notes on _Peritsol_, and Dr.
Cumberland, in his remarks on Sanchoniatho, and by other writers,
_Erythros_ or _Red_ is supposed to be a translation of _Edom_, the name
of _Esau_; whence it is conjectured that this sea, as well as the
country of _Idumea_, took their denominations from _Edom_. But this does
not seem probable for two reasons: _First_, because the Jews do not call
it the _Red Sea_ but _Tam Suf_, or the _Sea of Weeds_; and, _second_,
the ancients included all the ocean between the coasts of Arabia and
India under the name of the _Erythrean_ or _Red Sea_, of which the
_Persian_ and the _Arabian Gulfs_ were reckoned branches.--Ast. I. 129.

From leaving _Socotora_, till I had coasted the whole of this sea all
the way to _Suez_, I continually and carefully observed this sea; and
the colour and appearance of its shores, the result of which I shall now
state. First then, it is altogether false that the colour of this sea is
red, as it does not differ in any respect from the colour of other seas.
As to the dust driven by the winds from the land to the sea staining the
water; we saw many storms raise great clouds of dust and drive them to
the sea, but the colour of its water was never changed by these. Those
who have said that the land on the coast is red, have not well observed
the coats and strands: for generally on both, sides the land by the sea
is brown and very dark, as if scorched. In some places it appears black
and in others white, and the sands are of these colours. In three places
only there are certain parts of the mountains having veins or streaks of
a red colour; and at these places the Portuguese had never been before
the present voyage. These three places are all far beyond _Swakem_
towards Suez, and the three hills having these red streaks or veins are
all of very hard rock, and all the land round about that we could see
are of the ordinary colour and appearance. Now, although substantially
the water of this sea has no difference in colour from that of other
seas, yet in many places its waves by accident seem very red, from the
following cause. From _Swakem_ to _Kossir_, which is 136 leagues, the
sea is thickly beset with shoals and shelves or reefs, composed of
_coral stone_, which grows like clustered trees spreading its branches
on all sides as is done by real _coral_, to which this stone bears so
strong resemblance that it deceives many who are not very skilful
respecting the growth and nature of coral.

This _coral stone_ is of two sorts, one of which is a very pure white,
and the other very _red_. In some places this _coral stone_ is covered
by great quantities of green ouze or sleech, and in other places it is
free from this growth. In some places this ouze or sleech is very bright
green, and in others of an orange-tawny colour. From _Swakem_ upwards,
the water of this sea is so exceedingly clear, that in many places the
bottom may be distinctly seen at the depth of 20 fathoms. Hence,
where-ever these shoals and shelves are, the water over them is of three
several colours, according to the colour of these rocks or shelves, red,
green, or white, proceeding from the colour of the ground below, as I
have many times experienced. Thus when the ground of the shoals is sand,
the sea over it appears _white_; where the coral-stone is covered with
_green_ ouze or sleech, the water above is greener even than the weeds;
but where the shoals are of _red_ coral, or coral-stone covered by _red_
weeds, all the sea over them appears very _red_. And, as this _red_
colour comprehends larger spaces of the sea than either the _green_ or
the _white_, because the stone of the shoals is mostly of _red coral_, I
am convinced that on this account it has got the name of the _Red Sea_,
and not the green sea or the white sea, though these latter colours are
likewise to be seen in perfection.

The means I used for ascertaining this secret of nature were these. I
oftentimes fastened my bark upon shoals where the sea appeared red, and
commanded divers to bring me up stones from the bottom. Mostly it was so
shallow over these shoals, that the bark touched; and in other places
the mariners could wade for half a league with the water only breast
high. On these occasions most of the stones brought up were of red
coral, and others were covered by orange-tawny weeds. Whether the sea
appeared _green_, I found the stones at the bottom were white coral
covered with green weeds; and where the sea was white I found a very
white sand. I have conversed often with the Moorish pilots, and with
persons curious in antiquities, who dwelt on this sea, who assured me
that it was never stained red by the dust brought from the land by the
winds: I do not, however reprove the opinion of former Portuguese
navigators; but I affirm, that having gone through this sea oftener than
they, and having seen its whole extent, while they only saw small
portions, I never saw any such thing. Every person with whom I conversed
wondered much at our calling it the Red Sea, as they knew no other name
for it than the sea of Mecca[335]. On the 9th of August 1541, we entered
the port of _Anchediva_, where we remained till the 21st of that month,
when we went in foists or barks and entered the port of Goa, whence we
set out on this expedition on the 31st of December 1540, almost eight
months before.

[Footnote 335: This might have been the case among the pilots at this
time; but among Arabic geographers it is likewise called the Sea of
Hejaz, the Sea of Yaman, and the Sea of Kolzum.--Astl.]

_Table of Latitudes observed in the Journal of Don Juan[336]._

Deg. Min.
Socotora, 12 40
Bab-al-Mondub[A] 12 15
Sarbo port,[B] 15 76[337]
Shaback, scarcely 19 0
_A nameless island _, 19 0
Tradate, harbour 19 50
Fushaa, bay 20 15
Farate, river 21 40
Ras-al-Jidid, port[B] 22 0
Comol, port 22 30
Ras-al-Nef, Cape 24 0
Swairt island 24 10
Gaudenauchi, port 24 40
Tuna, haven 25 30
Kossir[A] 26 15
Safanj-al-bahr, island 27 0
Island, 2 leagues N.W. from Sheduan 27 40
Toro, town 28 10
Anchorage, 20 leagues farther 29 17
Suez 29 45

[Footnote 336: In this Table [A] denotes _two_ observations having been
made at the place; [B] indicates more observations than two; and all the
rest only one. All of course north.--E.]

[Footnote 337: In the enumeration of latitudes in Astleys Collection
this is set down as 15 deg. 17 min. but in the text of Purchas it is
stated as here.--E.]


_Description of the Sea of Kolzum, otherwise called the Arabian Gulf,
or the Red Sea. Extracted from the Geography of Abulfeda_[338].

The following description of the Red Sea was written by _Ismael
Abulfeda_ prince of _Hamah_ in Syria, the ancient _Epiphania_, who died
in the 733d year of the _Hejirah_ or Mahometan era, corresponding with

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