Ancient Ports in the Red Sea

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Ancient port mentioned by ancient author(s)

Ancient port mentioned by modern author(s) only

Potential ancient harbour, from a nautical point of view


NB Ancient name Modern name
3520 Cleopatris, Klysma, Clysma, Ovila, on the Heroopolite Gulf Suez, Qulzum, on the Gulf of Suez
3521 Phoinikon, Poseideion? Ayn Musa, near the power station
3521.1   Adabiya bay
3521.2   Bir Odeib & Bir Themada
3522 Port of King Khafra, Khefren Ayn Sukhna, at Portrait Hotel, with ship remains in galleries
3522.1   Bir Umm Reiga & Bir Aheimar
3522.2   Bir Abu Daraj
3522.3   Bir Abu Sundug
3522.4   Wadi Abu Ashayir el-Rayyan
3523 Medeia, Marah Abu Mereir, near Ras Matarma
3523.1   Surandala fort
3524   Mersa Thelemet
3524.1   Abu Zenima
3525 Bat, port of King Khufu, Cheops wadi el-Jarf, the oldest breakwater found to date & with ship remains in galleries
3526 Maghara (export of turquoise, malachite & copper from wadi Ameyra, Serabit el-Khadim & wadi Maghara) Maghara, al-Markha, near Ras Budran
3527 Rhaithou, Palm-Grove el-Tor, el-Tur, Tor harbour
3528   Tell el-Raya, Sheikh Riyah Harbour
3529   Merset el-Qad Yahya
3530   Marsa Zeitiya
3531 Saspeirene Nesos? Sapirine? Endeavour Harbour, on Geziret Tawila island
3532 Scytala, Skytala, Sapirine? Phocarum? Geziret Shadwan, Shaker island
3533 Abu Shar Roman fort at the end of the Via Hadriana, at el-Gouna which is an excellent shelter
3534   Hurghada
3535   Marsa Abu Makhadiq
3536   Makadi Bay
3537   Sharm el-Arab, Al Nabila
3538   Sharm Rashid
3539   Sharm al-Abd
3540   Ras Abu Soma
3541   Geziret Safaga, Safajah
3542   Wadi Safaga
3543   Coral Garden
3544 Philoteras portus, Philotere, port of Aennus, archaic Saww Marsa Gawasis, near wadi Jasus, 26 km South of Safaga port. Pliny speaks of Aennus. Modern authors seem to agree to locate this port at Marsa Gawasis near Safaga.
3545   Kalawy Imperial
3546   Quei, Quway, Kuwe
3547 Arsinoe Troglodytika unlocalized between Philoteras and Myos Hormos, perhaps Hamrawein?
3548   Abu Sawatir Rocky Valley
3549 Myos Hormos, Aphrodite’s port, Portus Veneris, Port of the mouse, Mussel harbour Quseir al-Qadim, at the Mövenpick hotel, 8 km North of Quseir. Ptolemy locates Myos-Hormos at 3°25’ of latitude (380 km) North of Berenike, which leads to Hurghada. The Periplus Maris Erythraei indicates that this site is at 1800 stadia, (330 km) from Berenike, which would lead near Safaga. However, modern authors agree to locate this port 8 km North of Quseir on the West side of the road and a jetty made of amphoras was found by Peacock & Blue. Roman fort at Qasr Hadie
3550   Bir el-Uwaynah, Quseir port, at the outlet of wadi Hammamat leading to ancient Coptos on the Nile.
3551   Sharm el Lole, Zerib Kebir
3552   Bir Asal, Utopia Beach
3553   Sharm el-Bahari, Mangrove Bay
3554   Santido Resort
3555   Marsa Wizr
3556   Marsa Umm Gheig
3557   Marsa Toronbi
3558   Coraya Bay
3559 Leukos Limen? Albus portus? Marsa Imbarak, Port Ghalib
3560   Marsa Mubarak, Three Corners Fayrouz Plaza
3561   Marsa Mooray
3562   Marsa Abu Dabbab
3563   Marsa Dabr
3563.1   Marsa Shajra
3564   Marsa Abu Irayki, Brayka Bay
3565   Marsa Tarafi
3566   Marsa Egla, Tomb of El-Sheikh Sakin el-Ijlah
3567   Marsa Asalay
3568   Marsa Alam
3568.1   Wadi Abu Sabakhay
3569   Marsa Samaday
3570   Marsa Tundaba, Khor Umm Shahawt
3571 Nechesia? Marsa Nakari, 18 km South of Marsa Alam
3572   Ras Dirra, Ras el-Dirri
3572.1   Wadi Ghadir
3573   Marsa Fokairi
3574   Shams Alam Resort
3575 Iambe insula? Aphrodites Nesos?? Sharm Luli, in front of Wadi el-Gamal islands, this place has been taken for Myos Hormos because of Strabo’s description, but Pliny mentions Iambe insula between Myos Hormos and Berenike
3576   Wadi Umm al Abas
3577 Cabalsi, Cabau, Gabaum Abu Ghusun, at outlet of wadi Gamal, Gemal, Gimal
3577.1   Wadi Ranga
3578   Kala’an Gulf
3579   Wadi Lahami
3580 Hellenistic port of Berenike Troglodytika, Berenice, inside the gulf of Lepte Akra, Acathartos Kolpos, Foul Bay Medinet el-Haras, 4 km South of Bender el-Kebir inside the gulf of Ras Banas and on the Tropic of Cancer. Pliny is most accurate as he indicates that there is no shadow at noon on the day of summer solstice, which is the definition of the tropic located at 23°26’ of latitude. The present latitude of Berenike is 23°56’ and it is still a port today. With Hellenistic fort.
3581 Roman port of Berenike Troglodytika, Berenice, inside the gulf of Lepte Akra, Acathartos Kolpos, Foul Bay Medinet el-Haras, 4 km South of Bender el-Kebir inside the gulf of Ras Banas and on the Tropic of Cancer. Pliny is most accurate as he indicates that there is no shadow at noon on the day of summer solstice, which is the definition of the tropic located at 23°26’ of latitude. The present latitude of Berenike is 23°56’ and it is still a port today.
With possible ancient lighthouse. Roman forts at Siket and at Wadi Kalalat.
3582 Ophiodes insula, Topazios, Agathonis, Nekron, Snake island Isle of Zabargat, Geziret Seberget, St John’s Island, the island with topaz, off Berenike. The isle of Ophiodes is well located as it seems to be the only one producing topaz in this area. No good shelter here!
3583   Bodkin reef
3583.1   Bir Shalatein, Shalateen, Shalatin
3584   Sharm el-Madfa, Marsa Hasa
3585   Marsa Shaab
3585.1   Bir Adal Deib
3586   Marsa el-Qad
3587   Marsa Abu Naam
3587.1   Bir Girid
3587.2   Bir Abu Ramad
3587.3   Aydhab, Aidhab
3588 Astarta insula? Marsa Halaib, Halayeb, in front of Geziret Hala’ib
3589   Khor el-Marob
3590   Marsa Ribda, Marsa Gwilaib
3591   Khor Abu Asal, Marsa Oseif
3592   Marsa Hamsiat
3593   Marsa Wasi
3594   Marsa Gafatir
3595   Marsa Abu Imama, Rio Farat
3596   Marsa Halaka, Khor Dullow, Khor Delwein
3597   Khor Shinab, Khor Abu Mishmish
3598 Bathus profondus portus Dungonab, Ptolemy locates Bathus (deep port) at 2°50’ of latitude South of Berenike, which leads to the large bay of Dungunab where a huge bay sheltered from the northern waves prevailing in this area is found
3599 Dioscuror Marsa Inkeifal? Ptolemy locates Dioscuror at the same place as Bathus, perhaps in front of Jazirat Mukkawar island
3600   Marsa Salak
3601   Marsa Arakiyai, Port Salvadora
3602   Marsa Fijab, Bahia de Fuca
3603   Marsa Gwiyai, Port Dradart
3604 Theon Soteron Limen, Deorum Salutarium, Sotira Port Sudan, in Marsa Sheikh Barud, Ptolemy locates Theon Soterum at 30′ of latitude North of Evangelon, which corresponds to Port Sudan
3605   Marsa Ata
3606 Evangeliorum, Evangelon, Bonorum nunciorum Suakin? Ptolemy locates Theon Soterum at only 35′ of latitude North of Ptolemais
3607   Marsa Esh Sheikh Ibrahim
3608 Ptolemais Theron, Ptolemais’ hunt (for elephants), Epitherias (city founded by Eumedes), Khemtit? Diodorus’ Panormus?? South of R Astaboras Adobana, 8.5 km SE of Agig, Aqiq, south of R Baraka, Barka. The Periplus Maris Erythraei locates Ptolemais at 4000 stadia (740 km) south of Berenike, which corresponds to Aqiq
3609 Strato insula in bay of Elaea Aqiq Kebir, Bahdur island, Ibn Abbas island, in Khor Nawarat, Nowarat, with rock-cut cisterns
3610   small headland on Gazirat Kalafiyya, in Khor Nawarat, Nowarat, visited by Peacock & Blue (2007)
3611   Er-Rih island, Gazirat Iri, Airi, Iri, Medieval Badi island, with many Medieval rock-cut cisterns
3612   Harmil island
3613   Jimhil, Gim’hile on the Dahlak islands, Monfreid’s Djumele?
3614 Alalaei, Alalaiou insulae Dahlak Kebir village on the Dahlak islands, with many rock-cut cisterns on Dahlak Kebir
3615 Saba Massawa? Ptolemy locates Saba at 50’ of latitude North of Adulis, which could be Massawa at only 20 nautical miles
3616 Land of Punt? Pount, Ta Netjer, Taneter, Pwenet, Pwene, Pouen, Ophir?? probably somewhere in East Africa, possibly in the area of the Afar people, between Adulis and Djibouti, on the location of the ancient D’mt (Da’amat) kingdom and close to the Kush kingdom and its gold mines, where they could also find silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks. Other possible locations for Punt are Mundus-Mosylium and Opone (Somalia)
3617 Adulis, Adoulis, Utulis, port of the Axoumites, on R Taranta Zula, on wadi Haddas. The Periplus Maris Erythraei locates Adulis at 3000 stadia (ca. 550 km) south of Ptolemais inside a south facing bay, which corresponds to Zula. Pliny locates it at 5 navigation days from Ptolemais, which leads to more or less the same location. It may be noted that Ptolemy is widely mistaken when locating it at 40’ of latitude North of Dire, leading near Assab, 200 km further south. The site of Zula is now widely accepted by modern authors.
3618 Gabaza, port of Adulis, Diodorus insula Island located in the bay of Zula and and now included into the continent under the name « Galala Hills » 3.5 km SE of Zula. Not to be confused with Perim island bearing the same ancient name
3618.1   Irafalo, Irafayle, Erafaile, Arafali
3619   Melita bay near Ras Nasiracurra, on Buri peninsula
3620 Oreine, Orine insula, Mountainous island, called Oreine chersonesos by Ptolemy (Mountainous promontory) Dissei island, Dessei, Dese
3621   Dellemi, Dilemmi island, SW of Port Smyth
3622 unnamed “large bay” with obsidian, Portus Melinus? Howakil bay, Hauakil bay, near Ghelaelo, with Harena, Arena island
3623 Antiphilou Limen, Antiphilus portus Hanfileh, Anfile bay, NW of Thio, Tio
3624 Port of Colobonalsos, Cape Kolobon Tio at Ras Anrata? Ptolemy locates Colobon at 2° of latitude North of Adulis, which does not correspond to any cape or promontary, but Strabo locates it very close to Antiphilus portus, hence Tio might be the right location
3625   Edd, beach sheltered from south
3626   Mersa Dudo
3627 Berenice of Saba Bera’isole in Bahar Assoli, Bahir Assoli Bay
3628   Ras Terma, east of Beylul
3629 Sabae, Sabath Assab? Near wadi Arsile, Harsile
3630 Eumenous Alsos, Port of Eumenes Unlocated between Saba and Arsinoe, possibly near Halba Deset
3631 Arsinoe epi-Dires Ras Dumeira at Rahayta? Ptolemy locates Arsinoe at 20’ of latitude South of Dire, which corresponds to the lagoon of Godoria on the North coast of Djibouti near 12°09’ of latitude. He nevertheless mentions it North of Dire on his list … which makes some authors think the site is at Ras Dumeira. Monfreid’s Raheita
3632 Cape Dire, Deire, Berenice epi-Dires, Orea, Tytis insula possibly in this area Ras Siyan, on the west side of Bab el-Mandeb, the Gate of Tears. Cape Dire is located in front of Cape Acila (Cheikh Saïd in Yemen) as Strabo indicates. It is also just in front of the six islands mentioned by Strabo. Ras Siyan is a former island now connected to the mainland, but before that, it was a member of the “Seven Islands” (Sawabi islands). It provides good shelter against the eastern waves prevailing in this area. The place called Fagal is at 12°27’ of latitude and gives us a reference for locating other ports mentioned by Ptolemy.
3633 Diodorus insula, Adanos Duo, Sadanus insulae Mayyun, on Perim island, and the second island (“Duo”) may have been the Cheikh Saïd peninsula now connected to the mainland
3634 Acila, Akila, Ocelis, Okelis, Akelis, Maddaban Khor Ghuraira, near Ras Cheikh Saïd, near Murad, in front of Ras Siyan
3635 Pseudokelis between Murad and Dhubab
3636 Sosippu Limen, Sosippi Monfreid’s Doubab, Dhubab is the only natural shelter between Murad/Ocelis and Mokha/Mouza.
3637 Muza, Mouza, Masala, port of the Himyarites Mokha, Moka, Muhawan, Makhwan
3638 Sacacia, Sakatiapolis Az Zahari? 4 km south of Marsa Fajrah
3639 Napegous Kome Abu Zahr? 2 km north of al-Khawkhah
3640 Malichos Duo insulae, Maliachou nesoi Hanish islands
3641   Tongue island, near Monfreid’s Zoukour, Zuqar
3642 Ailou Kome? port of Zabida? al-Midamman, near Zabid, Neolithic settlement
3643 Bolicas, Bulicas, Laupas, Poudnou Polis, Pudnu? port of the Himyarites, Homerites, Omerites al-Ghulayfiqa?
3644 Are insula? Mujamila island
3645 Adedou Kome al-Hodeidah, Hudaydah, near outlet of wadi Siham
3646 Chelonitis, Kardamine insula? al-Zubayr islands
3647 Camarum insula, Sokratus insula? Kamaran island
3648   Uqban island, Monfreid’s Okban
3649 Katakekaumene insula, Exusta, Combusta insula, Ile Brulee, Burnt island at-Tair vulcano island NW of Hodeidah, not a port but a major landmark
3650 Mamala Kome? al-Luhayyah, Bukharin suggests Mimla, 230 km further south
3651 Akme, Ambe near Zamzam?
3652   Dumsuq island, Monfreid’s Dumsuk
3653   Qumah, Kumakh island
3654 Praefectus Ferresani portus on Devade insula, Hierakon insula? Roman naval base at Khor Farasan, on Farasan Kebir island
3654.1   Wadi Matar, on Farasan Kebir island
3655   Sajid, on Farasan Segid, Zekir island, Monfreid’s Seguid
3656   Saso, Sarso island
3657 Badeo Basileion? Khor al-Wahlan? near al-Madaya, Monfreid’s Medy
3658 R Baitios, Fons Coralis? Wadi Baysh? near Khor Abu as-Saba, east of Ras Turfa
3659 Marma? Jazan Economic City?
3659.1 Thebai, Tabis? Country of the Debai al-Qahma, in Khor al-Wasm? 13 km SE of Dhahban
3659.2   Khor al-Birk
3659.3   Khor Nahud
3660 Kentos Komé? on R Canauna (known for gold mining) al-Qunfuda, Qunfudhah, Qunfida, on wadi Kanawna, Qanauna, Qununa
3661 Circular gulf with trapezoidal shaped hill Khor al-Humara? near Ghubbat al-Mahasin, Mohaisen, Ras Kinnateis
3662   Marsa Ibrahim, near al-Lith
3663   Marsa Qishran, in al-Sharifa lagoon
3664   Al-Shoaiba, ancient port of Mecca, Makka, La Mecque
3665   Abu Shauk
3666 Zambram, Zabram Basileion, Zadrame? Zahran at outlet of wadi Fatima, South of modern industrial port of Jeddah
3667 Goudda, Gidda, Quda’a Jeddah, al-Balad old town
3668   Sharm Abhur, Bihar
3669   al-Jazeerah, near Ras Hatiba
3670   al-Qadimah
3671 Agar? Arga Kome? Khor al-Kharrar, near Rabigh
3672 Kopar Kome? Coboea, Coboris? Sharm Burayqah, Buraykah, “al-Jar”
3673 Iambia Kome? Leuke Kome? Yanbu al-Bahr
3674 Charmuthas, Charmute Sharm Yanbu? 15 km NW of Yanbu.
This hypothetical area is close to Diodorus’ description:
> the total circumference is 23 km (close to his 100 stades);
> the central island might be now connected to the mainland on the NE side where siltation occurred over time, near the outlet of the wadi ;
> the total area might have been between 2000 and 3000 ha (ample space for his 2000 ships) ;
> the entrance is 300 m wide (more than his 200 feet = 60 m) but this depends much on coral growth which may have varied in time and with urbanisation.
3675   Sharm al-Khawr
3676   Sharm Hasy
3677 Zygaina insula Al-Hassani island?
3678   Umm Lajj, Umluj Marina
3679 Leuke Kome? al-Haura, Hawra, Harrat Qalib?
3680 Raunathou Kome, near Chersonnesos Prom. near Ras Karkuma, Qurqumah
3681 Egra Kome, Aigra, Agra, Akra, port of Hegra and Dedan? al-Qusayr, Qassir, on wadi al-Hamd
3682   Sharm Habban
3683 Timagenes insula Raiyikhah island west of al-Wajh?
3684 Phoinikon Kome? Port of Hegra and Dedan? Leuke Kome? Sharm Wejh, al-Wajh? This location is preferred by Nappo and Nehmé.
3685   Sharm Antar
3686   Sharm Dumaygh
3687 Ainou, Ainos insula Geziret an-Numan?
3688 Hippos Kome? Dhuba, Duba, south of Jebel as-Sar, Ash-Shar, shaped like a horse
3689   Sharm Jubbah, industrial port of Duba
3690   Sharm Yahar, al-Harr
3691   5 km North of al-Muwaylih, Muwaila
3692   as-Sawra, Alsourah
3693 Modiana? Madian? ash-Sharma
3694 Onne? Leuke Kome? Ampelone? Possibly al-Khuraybah in Aynunah bay. A road to Petra starts there. Some scholars locate it at al-Wajh, 240 km further south.
3695 Salydo insula Barqan island?
3696 Soukabya insula Shusha island?
3697 Isis insula Sanafir, Sinafir island?
3698 Iotabe? Jotabe? Isle of sea-calves (dugongs), called Dia insula by Strabo? erroneously called ‘Duck Country’ by Photius Tiran island, at the entrance of the gulf of Aqaba? a very strategic location for controlling sea trade entering the Gulf of Aqaba and levying taxes …
3699   Sharm el-Sheikh
3700 Makna near Maqna
3701   el-Kura
3702   Tell el-Mashraba, near Dahab
3703   Tayyib al-Ism
3704   Nuweiba
3705 Ankale near Haql
3706   Marsa al-Marakh, Fjord bay Taba, 5 km NE of the Taba resort, near wadi Tuweiba
3707 Ezion Geber? Gasion Gabel? Geziret Fara’un, Jazirat Firawn, Pharaoh’s island, Coral island
3707.1 Ezion Geber? Gasion Gabel? Tell el-Kheleifeh, Tell al-Khulayfa, with square casemate fort
3708 Aila, Elaea, Aelana, Elana Kome, Eloth, Elath, Elat, Berenike, in the Laeanites Gulf Aqaba