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Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route$
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Steven Sidebotham

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520244306

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520244306.001.0001

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Inhabitants of Berenike in Roman Times

Inhabitants of Berenike in Roman Times

(p.68) 6 Inhabitants of Berenike in Roman Times
Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route

Steven E. Sidebotham

University of California Press

This chapter investigates those who lived in Berenike in the Roman period, their professions, religious practices, and the languages they wrote and spoke. It examines how the foods they consumed were indications of their ethnicity and social status. People of different regions, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses sought their fortunes in Roman Berenike. Different languages found at Berenike in early Roman times provide important clues to the multicultural composition of its demography. Meat, Red Sea fish, turtle, dugong, mollusks, wheat, and fruit and nuts were some of the food consumed in Berenike. Water was the major resource required to sustain life in the town. An important religious structure in Berenike was the Serapis temple. The Shrine of the Palmyrenes was built of a hodgepodge of fossilized coral heads mixed with gypsum/anhydrite blocks. Early Roman Berenike served as an important administrative center for the Prefect of Mount Berenike.

Keywords:   Berenike, Roman period, religious practices, languages, ethnicity, food, water, Serapis temple, Shrine of the Palmyrenes

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