chapter  1
Rome and India: early Indian cotton textiles from Berenike, Red Sea coast of Egypt
Pages 6

The port of Berenike on the Red Sea coast of Egypt (see Fig. 1.1a) was founded by Ptolemy II Philadelphus in about 275 BC and named in honour of his mother. From then until its final abandonment in about AD 520 it functioned as a trading port for commerce between the Graeco-Roman world, South Arabia, East Africa and India. Excavations at the site since 1994, directed by Professor S.E. Sidebotham of the University of Delaware and Dr W.Z. Wendrich of Leiden University, have started to reveal more about the history of the site and the extent of its contacts with India. The port appears to have been particularly active in the late first century BC and early first century AD. After a possible decline in occupation in the second and third centuries AD, when evidence for activity is sketchy, the town experienced a renaissance of both occupation and commerce in the late fourth century which appears to have continued until its final evacuation, probably in the early sixth.