Land of Punt

The Land of Punt was an ancient kingdom. A trading partner of Egypt, it was known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, ebony and wild animals; the region is known from ancient Egyptian records of trade expeditions to it. It is possible that it corresponds to Opone on the Horn of Africa, as known by the ancient Greeks, while some biblical scholars have identified it with the biblical land of Put or Havilah. At times Punt is referred to as Ta netjer, the "Land of the God"; the exact location of Punt is still debated by historians. Most scholars today believe Punt was situated to the southeast of Egypt, most in the coastal region of modern Djibouti, northeast Ethiopia and the Red Sea littoral of Sudan, it is possible that the territory covered both the Horn of Africa and Southern Arabia. Puntland, the Somali administrative region situated at the extremity of the Horn of Africa, is named in reference to the Land of Punt; some scholars have argued that Punt is the island of present day Sri Lanka.

The earliest recorded ancient Egyptian expedition to Punt was organized by Pharaoh Sahure of the Fifth Dynasty, returning with cargoes of antyue and Puntites. However, gold from Punt is recorded as having been in Egypt as early as the time of Pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty. Subsequently, there were more expeditions to Punt in the Sixth, Eleventh and Eighteenth dynasties of Egypt. In the Twelfth Dynasty, trade with Punt was celebrated in popular literature in the Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor. In the reign of Mentuhotep III, an officer named Hannu organized one or more voyages to Punt, but it is uncertain whether he traveled on these expeditions. Trading missions of the 12th dynasty pharaohs Senusret I, Amenemhat II and Amenemhat IV had successfully navigated their way to and from the mysterious land of Punt. In the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Hatshepsut built a Red Sea fleet to facilitate trade between the head of the Gulf of Aqaba and points south as far as Punt to bring mortuary goods to Karnak in exchange for Nubian gold.

Hatshepsut made the most famous ancient Egyptian expedition that sailed to Punt. Her artists revealing much about the royals, inhabitants and variety of trees on the island, revealing it as the "Land of the Gods, a region far to the east in the direction of the sunrise, blessed with products for religious purposes", where traders returned with gold, ebony, aromatic resins, animal skins, live animals, eye-makeup cosmetics, fragrant woods, cinnamon. During the reign of Queen Hatshepsut in the 15th century BC, ships crossed the Red Sea in order to obtain bitumen, carved amulets and other goods transported overland and down the Dead Sea to Elat at the head of the gulf of Aqaba where they were joined with frankincense and myrrh coming north both by sea and overland along trade routes through the mountains running north along the east coast of the Red Sea. A report of that five-ship voyage survives on reliefs in Hatshepsut's mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri. Throughout the temple texts, Hatshepsut "maintains the fiction that her envoy" Chancellor Nehsi, mentioned as the head of the expedition, had travelled to Punt "in order to extract tribute from the natives" who admit their allegiance to the Egyptian pharaoh.

In reality, Nehsi's expedition was a simple trading mission to a land, by this time a well-established trading post. Moreover, Nehsi's visit to Punt was not inordinately brave since he was "accompanied by at least five shiploads of marines" and greeted warmly by the chief of Punt and his immediate family; the Puntites "traded not only in their own produce of incense and short-horned cattle, but in goods from other African states including gold and animal skins." According to the temple reliefs, the Land of Punt was ruled at that time by King Parahu and Queen Ati. This well illustrated expedition of Hatshepsut occurred in Year 9 of the female pharaoh's reign with the blessing of the god Amun: Said by Amen, the Lord of the Thrones of the Two Land:'Come, come in peace my daughter, the graceful, who art in my heart, King Maatkare... I will give thee Punt, the whole of it... I will lead your soldiers by land and by water, on mysterious shores, which join the harbours of incense... They will take incense as much.

They will load their ships to the satisfaction of their hearts with trees of green incense, all the good things of the land.' While the Egyptians "were not well versed in the hazards of sea travel, the long voyage to Punt, must have seemed something akin to a journey to the moon for present-day explorers...the rewards of outweighed the risks." Hatshepsut's 18th dynasty successors, such as Thutmose III and Amenhotep III continued the Egyptian tradition of trading with Punt. The trade with Punt continued into the start of the 20th dynasty before terminating prior to the end of Egypt's New Kingdom. Papyrus Harris I, a contemporary Egyptian document that detailed events that occurred in the reign of the early 20th dynasty king Ramesses III, includes an explicit description of an Egyptian expedition's return from Punt: They arrived safely at the desert-country of Coptos: they moored in peace, carrying the goods they had brought, they were loaded, in travelling overland, upon asses and upon men, being reloaded into vessels at the harbour of Coptos.

They were sent arriving in festivity, bringing tribute into the royal presence. After the en

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