Tuesday, August 9, 2011

History ain't what it used to be

The city of Ezion-Geber, at the northernmost extent of the Red Sea grew to early prominence in the region; for its strategically and economically important location, it's mentioned repeatedly in the early mytho-historical books of the Bible.

Under the names Berenice and Aelana, it was an important trade hub for the Greeks and Romans, respectively. In Roman times, it grew to spectacular wealth as a crucial link in the Roman/Indian luxury trade route. While Indian trade ships gradually made longer-haul trips that skipped over the other ports on the route, they inevitably had to stop when they reached Aelana to unload their goods for overland transport to the Mediterranean port at Alexandria. When fashion dictated that every wealthy Roman matron have a silk dress for special occasions, each yard of silk moved through Aelana to get to her.

After the fall of the Empire and the rise of Islam, the city, now called Ayla, remained wealthy and storied, the home port of Sinbad the Sailor in the Arabian Nights. It was held by Crusaders, recaptured by Saladin, ruled by Mamluk sultans and the Ottoman Empire. It was taken from the Ottomans by an Arab force lead by Lawrence of Arabia, eventually ceded to a British protectorate, and is today part of the Kingdom of Jordan.

And by 2014, it will be home to the world's first Star Trek themed amusement park.

I'd give quite a bit to read the conclusions future archaeologists make about us from excavating our cities.

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