The movements of trade from the East to the West must have been coeval with the migrations in that direction of the earliest ancestors of our race. In process of time, and as the more distant westward parts of the extensive continent of the Eastern Hemisphere were reached, this commerce developed into the great and important Indo-European trade of the present day.
Chaldaea undoubtedly owed its wealth and influence' to the trade from the East which passed through that country, and, according to certain Chinese historians, as interpreted by Pauthier, there was a direct personal communication by the Chaldaeans with China so early as the 24th century B.C. This communication was, no doubt, entirely by land, as were also the principal trade routes in much later times. The legend of the arrival of the fish-god" Ea-Han," or " Oannes," in Chaldaea, probably refers to the first advent to that country of trading people from the East by sea and the Persian Gulf.
The position-of Chaldaea rendered that country peculiarly favourable to commerce. Situated at the head of the Persian Gulf, and intersected by the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, it was admirably adapted for easy commercial intercourse with Persia, India, and Ceylon on the one hand, and with Arabia Felix, Asia Minor, Palestine; Ethiopia, and Egypt on the other. In his migration from Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham undoubtedly followed a well- established trade route. Haran was at this time a great centre of trade, lying, as it did, immediately in the highway between Arrapachitis and Canaan, at a point where that highway was crossed by the great western road connecting Media, Assyria, and Babylonia with the Cilician coast. Babylon and Nineveh both owed their greatness principally to the fact of their being entrepots of trade passing from the East to the West.
At the dawn of history the Indo-European trade was carried on by the Arabians and Phoenicians; the former in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean, and the latter in the Mediterranean. Between the Red Sea and Persian Gulf routes, there existed a continual rivalry, and on the Red Sea there was also a sharp competition for the trade between the Gulf of Akaba and the Gulf of Suez. Whilst the Arabs, in a great measure, maintained their portion of the trade until the discovery of the route to India by the Cape of Good Hope, the Phoenicians and their Colonies were forced to succumb to the rivalry of Assyria, Greece, and Rome. The principal trading stations of the Phoenicians were Tyre and Sidon, from which ports their commerce was distributed along the coasts of the Mediterranean. The distance from the Arabian Gulf to Tyre was, however, so considerable, and the conveyance of goods thither by land carriage 80 tedious and expensive, that the Phoenicians at a later date took possession of Rhinokoloura (EI Arish), the nearest port in the Mediterranean to the Arabian Gulf, to which place all the commodities brought from India by the Red. Sea were conveyed overland and were transported thence by an easy navigation to Tyre, and distributed throughout Europe. The wealth that the merchants of Tyre enjoyed by reason of this trade incited the Israelites to embark on a similar enterprise during the reigns of David and Solomon. By extending his possessions in the land of Edom, King David obtained possession of the harbours of Elath and Eziongeber on the Red Sea, whence, with the assistance of Hiram, King of Tyre, King Solomon dispatched fleets which, under the guidance of Phoenician pilots, sailed to Tarshish and Ophir, securing thereby a control over the trade of the eastern coast of Africa, and, no doubt, a not inconsiderable portion of the maritime trade with India brought to the Red Sea by Arab vessels. By the establishment of "Tadmor in the Wilderness," Solomon was also enabled to command a not inconsiderable portion of the Eastern trade that found its way up the Euphrates river from the Persian Gulf, as it passed towards the shores of the Mediterranean Sea'.
In course of time, Tyre sent out colonists who established themselves on the southern coasts of the Mediterranean, and founded the city of Carthage, which soon rose to considerable importance as a great trading mart; and, when the glory of Tyre began ,to decline, Carthage was in the zenith of her commercial prosperity and greatness. Byzantium, a Greek settlement, happily situated at the terminus of the great caravan system, by which it was placed in communication with the Ganges and with China, at an early date also became an entrepot for the commerce of the known world.
'With the rise of the Macedonian power, under Alexander the Great, the' monopoly of the Eastern trade passed from the hands of the Phoenicians. The capture of Sidon and destruction of' Tyre were the death blows to the commercial prosperity of that enterprising race. Alexander next made himself master of Egypt, where he founded the city of Alexandria, to serve as a commercial port on the Mediterranean for the Eastern trade that passed up the Red Sea.
Although the profits arising from the Indian trade had now for so many years brought wealth to those who had embarked in it, practically nothing was known of India itself, to the European nations, until the invasion of that country by Alexander the Great. One consequence of this invasion, however, beyond the knowledge thus acquired, was a considerable development of Indo-European commerce, and, although the Indian conquests threw off the Macedonian yoke soon after Alexander's death some, of the results that followed there from did not so readily disappear. On: the death of Alexander, Egypt fell to the Ptolemies, under whom arts, commerce, manufactures, agriculture, and navigation obtained a most extraordinary development, and Alexandria became the first mart in the world. About this time, the trade with India began to revive at Tyre, and in order to bring it to centre in Alexandria, Ptolemy Philadelphus set about the formation of a canal, a hundred cubits in breadth, and thirty cubits in depth, between Arsinoe on the Red Sea, near the modem Suez, and the Pelusiac, or eastern, branch of the Nile, by means of which the productions of India might have been conveyed to that capital wholly by water. This canal was, however, never finished, presumably on account of the dangers that then attended the navigation of the Arabian Gulf. As an alternative means of facilitating communication with India, Ptolemy Philadelphus built a city on the western shore of the Red Sea, to which he gave the name of Berenike, which soon became the principal emporium of the trade with India. From Berenike the goods were carried by land to Koptos, a city three miles distant from the Nile, but which had a communication with that river by means of a. navigable canal, and thence carried down the stream to Alexandria. In this channel the inter- course between the East and 'Vest continued to be carried on during two hundred anti fifty years. The Indian trading ships, sailing from Berenike, took their course along the Arabian shore to the promontory Syagros (Ras-Fartak), whence they followed the coast of Persia, either to Pattala (Tatta) at the head of the lower delta of the Indus, or to some other emporium on the west coast of India.
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