Thursday, 30 August 2012

Some more geography - Arabia

Even in antiquity the Arabian Peninsular was the centre of an international commodity trade that by the 1st-Century AD saw Pliny describing the Arab Kingdoms as the richest people in the world. Of course it wasn't crude oil back then. They were exporting Frankincense - an aromatic resin harvested from the Boswellia tree, and Myrrh - an aromatic gum taken from the Commiphora shrub. Incredibly expensive and sold to the Roman, Parthian and Chinese Empires by the shipload, frankincense and myrrh were one of those must haves for every household altar, temple and cremation - and they were worth more than their weight in gold. The Sabaean Kingdom in modern day Yemen appears to have been the world leader in the production and export of frankincense and myrrh, building dams and irrigation projects throughout their territory as early as 2000BC - and continuing new irrigation works until 325AD. The legendary Queen of Sheba was Sabaean and it's interesting to note the decline of the Roman Empire was mirrored in the Sabaean Kingdom due to the crash in demand for frankincense and myrrh. By the middle of the 6th-Century AD their irrigation canals and dams were falling out of use and the many Sabaeans were leaving their homelands for 'greener' pastures. The old rule of supply and demand just doesn't change.

Find out if Calvus was in to sticky business