The Country Of The Nabataei, Of Which Petra Was The Chief Town, Is Well
Characterized By Diodorus,[Diod.
Sic.l.2,c.48.] as containing some
fruitful spots, but as being for the greater part, desert and waterless.
With equal accuracy, the combined information of Eratosthenes,
Ap. Strab. p.767.] Strabo,[Strabo, p.779.] and Pliny, [Plin.
Hist Nat.l.6,c.28.] describes Petra as falling in a line, drawn from the
head of the Arabian gulf (Suez) to Babylon,--as being at the distance of
three or four days from Jericho, and of four or five from Phoenicon,
which was a place now called Moyeleh, on the Nabataean coast, near the
entrance of the AElanitic gulf,--and as situated in a valley of about
two miles in length surrounded with deserts, inclosed within precipices,
and watered by a river. The latitude of 30 degrees 20 minutes
[p.vii]ascribed by Ptolemy to Petra, agrees moreover very accurately
with that which is the result of the geographical information of
Burckhardt. The vestiges of opulence, and the apparent date of the
architecture at Wady Mousa, are equally conformable with the remains of
the history of Petra, found in Strabo,[P.781.] from whom it appears that
previous to the reign of Augustus, or under the latter Ptolemies, a very
large portion of the commerce of Arabia and India passed through Petra
to the Mediterranean: and that ARMIES of camels were required to convey
the merchandise from Leuce Come, on the Red Sea,[Leuce Come, on the
coast of the Nabataei, was the place from whence AElius Gallus set out
on his unsuccessful expedition into Arabia, (Strabo, ibid.) Its exact
situation is unknown.] through Petra to Rhinocolura, now El Arish.
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