Land of Punt

The Land of Punt, also called "Pwenet" [Ian Shaw & Paul Nicholson, The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, British Museum Press, London. 1995, p.231.] by the ancient Egyptians, at times synonymous with "Ta netjer", the 'land of the god', [harvnb|Breasted|1906-07|p=433|Ref=none, vol. 1.] was a fabled site in the Horn of Africa and "was the source of many exotic products, such as gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals". [Shaw & Nicholson, op. cit., p.231.] Information about Punt has been found in ancient Egyptian records of trade missions to this region.

Egyptian expeditions

The earliest recorded Egyptian expedition to Punt was organized by Pharaoh Sahure of the Fifth Dynasty (25th century BC). [harvnb|Breasted|1906-07|p=161|Ref=none, vol. 1.] Subsequently, in the reign of Mentuhotep III (around 1950 BC), an officer named Hannu organized one or more voyages to Punt, but it is uncertain whether he travelled on these expeditions. [harvnb|Breasted|1906-07|p=427-433|Ref=none, vol. 1.]

The most famous ancient Egyptian expedition to Punt was conducted during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut in the 15th century BC to obtain myrrh. A report of that voyage survives on a relief in Hatshepsut's funerary temple at Deir el-Bahri. Nehsi, mentioned in the inscriptions, is thought by some to have been the leader of the expedition.Fact|date=September 2008 According to the relief, Punt was ruled at that time by King Parahu and Queen Ati. [harvnb|Breasted|1906-07|p=246-295|Ref=none, vol. 1.] Several of Hatshepsut's successors, including Thutmose III, also organized expeditions to Punt.Fact|date=September 2008

Geographic location

Ancient Egyptian texts are consistent in connecting the location of Punt with the Red Sea, but scholars have not agreed upon its precise location. Modern academic consensus places Punt in the area of Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, or the southeastern Beja lands of Sudan. [Edward J. Keall, "Possible Connections in Antiquity Between the Red Sea Coast of Yemen and the Horn of Africa", in "Trade and Travel in the Red Sea Region. Proceedings of Red Sea Project I Held in the British Museum" by the Society for Arabian Studies Monographs No. 2. Oxford: England, Archaeopress, October 2002, p.53.]

The most likely location of Punt, according to Kenneth Kitchen, is Eritrea, northern Ethiopia and east-north-east Sudan. [harvnb|Kitchen|1993|p=41|Ref=none] The presence of teff in 4th dynasty pyramid bricks of the Dahshur Pyramid supports this theory, as teff only grows in the Eritrean Highlands and Ethiopian Highlands. Modern attempts to classify the flora and fauna from Punt also suggests that Punt may have been located in this region. [Shaw & Nicholson, op. cit., p.231] Myrrh trees from Hatshepsut's trading expedition to Punt are shown being loaded onto Egyptian ships in the second terrace of her funerary temple at Deir el-Bahri. [Shaw & Nicholson, op. cit., p.232] Evidence that these trees were "replanted in the temple of Deir El-Bahri" is suggested "from the surviving traces of tree-pits" found here. [Shaw & Nicholson, op. cit., p.232]

Some argue that Punt was as far away as Puntland, a region of Somalia that adopted this name in the 20th century. Frankincense and myrrh, which were imported by the Egyptians from Punt, are still found in abundance in this region. In his translation of the "Periplus of the Erythraean Sea", G.W.B. Huntingford claimed that the name "Punt" lay behind the name of "Opone", a coastal marketplace in Somalia located south of Cape Guardafui, and identified both Punt and Opone with Hafun, a Somalian peninsula.

It was once thought that the frankincense and other goods the ancient Egyptians obtained in Punt suggested that it was located on the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, or even Bahrain or India. The presence of African animals in the Deir el-Bahri reliefs, as well as the presence of incense-producing trees in Africa, have discounted these theories.Fact|date=January 2008

"Ta netjer"

The ancient Egyptians also called Punt "Ta netjer", meaning "God's Land". This designation did not mean that Punt was considered a "Holy Land" by the Egyptians; rather, it was used to refer to regions of the Sun God, i.e. regions located in the direction of the sunrise. [harvnb|Breasted|1906-07|p=658|Ref=none, vol. II.] These eastern regions were blessed with precious products, like incense, used in temples. The term was used not only in reference to Punt, located southeast of Egypt, but also in reference to regions of Asia east and northeast of Egypt, such as Lebanon, which was the source of wood for temples. [harvnb|Breasted|1906-07|p=451,773,820,888|Ref=none, vol. II.]

Notes

References

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*Fattovich, Rodolfo. 1991. "The Problem of Punt in the Light of the Recent Field Work in the Eastern Sudan". In "Akten des vierten internationalen Ägyptologen Kongresses, München 1985", edited by Sylvia Schoske. Vol. 4 of 4 vols. Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag. 257–272
*———. 1993. "Punt: The Archaeological Perspective". In "Sesto congresso internazionale de egittologia: Atti", edited by Gian Maria Zaccone, and Tomaso Ricardi di Netro. Vol. 2 of 2 vols. Torino: Italgas. 399–405
*Herzog, Rolf. 1968. "Punt". Abhandlungen des Deutsches Archäologischen Instituts Kairo, Ägyptische Reihe 6. Glückstadt: Verlag J. J. Augustin
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Older literature

* Johannes Dumichen: "Die Flotte einer ägyptischen Königin", Leipzig, 1868
* Wilhelm Max Müller: "Asien und Europa nach altägyptischen Denkmälern", Leipzig, 1893
* Adolf Erman: "Life in Ancient Egypt", London, 1894
* Édouard Naville: "Deir-el-Bahri" in "Egypt Exploration Fund, Memoirs XII, XIII, XIV, and XIX", London, 1894 et seq
* James Henry Breasted: "A History of the Ancient Egyptians", New York, 1908

External links

* [http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/punt.htm The Wonderful Land of Punt]
* [http://www.homestead.com/wysinger/punt.html The Land of Punt] with quotes from Breasted (1906) and Petrie (1939)
* [http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/edwards/pharaohs/pharaohs-8.html Queen Hatasu, and Her Expedition to the Land of Punt] by Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards (1891).
* [http://members.tripod.com/~ib205/hatshepsut_temple.html Deir el-Bahri: Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut]
* [http://www.maat-ka-ra.de/english/bauwerke/djeser/dj_portico_2_hall_punt.htm Hall of Punt] at Deir el-Bahri; and [http://www.maat-ka-ra.de/english/punt/puntlage.htm Where was Punt?] discussion by Dr. Karl H. Leser
* [http://digilander.libero.it/camdic/QUEEN.html Queen of Punt syndrome]

News reports on Wadi Gawasis excavations

* [http://www.bu.edu/bridge/archive/2005/03-18/archaeologist.html Archaeologists discover ancient ships in Egypt] (Boston University Bridge, 18 March 2005). Excavations at Wadi Gawasis, possibly the ancient Egyptian port Saaw.
* [http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7190 Remains of ancient Egyptian seafaring ships discovered] (New Scientist, 23 March 2005).
* [http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-04/bu-esv042105.php Egyptian sea vessel artifacts discovered at pharaonic port of Mersa Gawasis along Red Sea coast] (EurekAlert, 21 April 2005).
* [http://www.dailyfreepress.com/media/paper87/news/2005/04/27/News/University.Professor.Finds.Ancient.Shipwreck-941440.shtml University professor finds ancient shipwreck] (Boston University Daily Free Press, 27 April 2005).
* [http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20050507/fob7.asp Ancient Mariners: Caves harbor view of early Egyptian sailors] (Science News Online, 7 May 2005).
* [http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/745/hr1.htm Sailing to distant lands] (Al Ahram, 2 June 2005).
* [http://science.monstersandcritics.com/news/article_1088919.php/Ancient_ship_remains_are_unearthed_at_Egyptian_Red_Sea_port Ancient ship remains are unearthed] (Deutsche Press Agentur, 26 January 2006).
* [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1501AP_Egypt_Pharaonic_Ships.html Archeologists find ancient ship remains] (Associated Press, 27 January 2006).
* [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11705263/ 4,000-year-old shipyard unearthed in Egypt] (MSNBC, 6 March 2006)


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