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  • "... the Egyptians themselves were scarcely any clearer on the source of their aromatics, a semimythical land they knew as 'Punt.' Located somewhere on the southern shores of the Red Sea, Punt was supplier to the temples and god-kings of the Nile for well over two thousand years. The earliest recorded expedition took place in the time of the pharoah Sahure, ruler from 2491 to 2477 B.C., although a slave from Punt appears in the court of Cheops (ca. 2589-2566 B.C.), builder of the great pyramid at Giza. For the sake of its aromatics, Punt was the destination of history's first recorded merchant fleet, a representation of which is still to be seen jinking an angular course around the walls of the temple of Deir al-Bahri, carved there by order of the female pharoah Hatshepsut around 1495 B.C. The reliefs depict a fleet of five ships, complete with sailors climbing aloft, teams of rowers, and steersmen fore and aft, navigating through a sea populated by giant squid and enormous fish. ... Modern scholarship generally concurs in situating Punt somewhere in the vicinity of modern Somalia, a voyage of some two thousand miles southward through the treacherous, reef-bound waters of the Red Sea."
    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 238

    December 6, 2016