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In a previous article of mine which focused on Ptolemais, I endeavoured to deal with the question of Ptolemais’ location. I did, however, deliberately exclude from this section the interpretation of a problematic passage from the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea which had been defended by M. Bukharin, as discussing it would have gone beyond the scope of the paper. Since then, the L’appel du large 2 conference gave me the opportunity to address this issue once more, which permitted me to properly reflect on M. Bukharin’s theories.Ptolemais Thêrôn is the first emporion and harbor after Berenikê mentioned by the anonymous author of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. However, the location of this place raises a serious problem due to the appearance of an expression whose meaning remains undetermined:Μετὰ δὲ τοὺς Μοσχοφάγους ἐπὶ θαλάσσης μικρὸν ἐμπόριόν ἐστιν, ἀπέχον † τὸ πέρας τῆς ἀνακομιδῆς † σταδίους περὶ τετρακισχιλίους, Πτολεμαῒς ἡ τῶν θηρῶν λεγομένη […].
In his translation of this sentence, L. Casson chose to rule out the extract between cruces, rendering the English text as follows: “Beyond the Moschophagoi, about 4 000 stades distant […] on the sea is a small port of trade called Ptolemais Thêrôn.” In the second part of his commentary (Commentary B. Textual, Lexicographical, Grammatical), L. Casson justifies this by explaining that this phrase did not belong to the original text: “These words, grammatically unsound, are probably an intrusive gloss to supply the starting point of the distance of 4 000 stades…


In his article published in 2011, M. Bukharin challenges the consensus on the interpretation of a passage from the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, in which Ptolemais of the Hunts is given its location with reference to a place called τὸ πέρας τῆς ἀνακομιδῆς. The confrontation with a papyrus dating from the first century AD, whose author mentions the great difficulty he had in entering the lagoon of Berenikê due to the prevalence of headwinds, contains the name ἀνακομιδή. This papyrus therefore invalidates M. Bukharin’s interpretation, supports the previously established interpretation, as well as indicating that τὸ πέρας τῆς ἀνακομιδῆς is likely an expression used by merchants and journeymen who plied their trades in the Erythraean Sea.

  • Ptolemais Thêrôn
  • Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
  • Papyrus
  • Lagoon of Berenikê
  • Erythraean Sea Professionals
Pierre Schneider
Univ. Artois, UR 4027, Centre de recherche et d’études Histoire et Sociétés (CREHS), F-62000 Arras, France
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