Berenice, Egypt - Encyclopedia


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'BERENICE, an ancient seaport of Egypt, on the west coast of the Red Sea, in 23° 56 N., 35° 34' E. Built at the head of a gulf, the Sinus Immundus, or Foul Bay, of Strabo, it was sheltered on the north by Ras Benas (Lepte Extrema). The port is now nearly filled up, has a sand-bar at its entrance and can be reached only by small craft. Most important of the ruins is a temple; the remnants of its sculptures and inscriptions preserve the name of Tiberius and the figures of many deities, including a goddess 1 Alabarch or Arabarch (Gr. &Xal3apxr)s, or apaf3apxris), the name of the head magistrate of the Jews in Alexandria under the Ptolemaic and Roman rules.

of the emerald mines. Berenice was founded by Ptolemy II. (285-247 B.C.) in order to shorten the dangerous Red Sea voyages, and was named in honour of his mother. For four or five centuries it became the entrepot of trade between India, Arabia and Upper Egypt. From it a road, provided with watering stations, leads north-west across the desert to the Nile at Coptos. In the neighbourhood of Berenice are the emerald mines of Zabara and Saket.

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