STUDIES BY CLASSICAL WRITERS SHOW THAT MECCA COULD NOT HAVE BEEN BUILT BEFORE THE 4TH CENTURY A.D.
By Dr. Rafat Amari
We refer the reader to the book of Dr. Amari, Islam in light of History, for more arguments on the true history of Mecca
Accurate data from Greek geography also excludes the appearance of Mecca before the 4th century A.D.
There is no mention of Mecca in the writings of any classical writer or geographer. This fact is an important argument against Islam’s claim that Mecca has existed since the time of Abraham. We have complete records of Greek and Roman writers, as well as many geographers who visited Arabia from the 4th century B.C. through the 3rd century A.D. Some of these people drew maps of Arabia telling us about every city, village, tribe, and temple existing there, yet none mentioned Mecca. If Mecca did indeed exist at the time of any of these geographers and writers, surely someone would have told us about this city.
To give you a better understanding, we’ll look at the work of some of these classical writers. Greeks were well known for their accuracy in geography. So much so, that they didn’t put much stock in reports provided by merchants. We can see this in the writings of Strabo, a famous Greek geographer and historian , who lived between 64 B.C. and 23 A.D. He emphasized how important it is to not depend on reports from merchants, but to depend upon the official findings provided by geographers and historians who visited the regions themselves.[i] This makes the research on the geography of Arabia provided by ancient Greek geographers and historians a valuable resource, especially when they tell us which cities existed in West Arabia since the end of the 5th century B.C. through the 4th century A.D. We see, then, that facts gathered by Greek geographers and historians are extremely important in establishing the dates when these cities first appeared. Since those geographers provided us with accurate reports dated between the end of the 5th century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D., scholars can easily determine within approximately 20 years the date of each city built in West Arabia. With reliable accuracy, we find that Mecca is absent from all the years documented by the Greek and Roman geographers. How ironic it is to claim that a city like Mecca existed as early as the Muslims claim, when it was never mentioned by the historians and the geographers who documented that time period. So, the case for Mecca existing as a city since Abraham’s time is more than a lost cause. It’s the most unhistorical assertion that anyone could claim or insert into history.
THE GEOGRAPHERS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT AND ARABIA
Surveys prepared by naval expeditions commissioned by Alexander the Great also excludes the presence of Mecca from accounts in the 4th century B.C.
We come to the 4th century B.C. Alexander the Great sent naval expeditions to make a survey of Arabia in preparation for an invasion Alexander was planning. Although his death in 323 B.C. stopped the invasion, the men whom Alexander sent succeeded in providing the Greeks with detailed information about Arabia. Some of those who led the expeditions, developed important surveys which came to us through the Greek historians and geographers. In their surveys, they mentioned important details about the coast of the Red Sea and the surrounding region. If Mecca existed in the 4th century B.C., they couldn’t have missed it. But there’s no mention of Mecca in their reports.
From Arrian, Anabasis, we know that Alexander the Great built a large harbor at Babylon as part of his preparation for conquering Arabia. Arrian wrote:
“Near Babylon, he constructed a harbor by excavation l enough to afford anchorage for 1,000 ships of war; and adjoining the harbor he built dockyards. Miccalus the Clazomenian was despatched to Phoenicia and Syria with 500 talents to enlist some men and purchase others who were experienced in nautical affairs… He made these preparations for the fleet to attack the main body of the Arab.” [ii]
Arrian explained that Alexander planned to occupy Arabia:
“…under the pretext that they were the only barbarians of this region who had not sent an embassy to him or done anything else becoming their position and showing respect to him. But the truth was, as it seems to me, that Alexander was insatiably ambitious of acquiring fresh territory.”[iii]
Arrian cited other reasons that Alexander planned to occupy Arabia: its fertility and the growth of certain plants there. Arrian wrote:
“The fertility of the land was a secret inducement to him to invade it. He had heard that the people obtained cassia from the lakes and myrrh and frankincense from the trees, that cinnamon was cut from the shrubs, and that the meadows produced spikenard without any cultivation.” [iv]
Alexander sent three naval expeditions from Babylon. The first was under Archias, “who was sent with a triacontor to investigate the course of the coasting voyage to Arabia, and who went as far as the island of Tylus (Bahrain), but dared not venture beyond that point.” [v]
Alexander then sent another naval expedition under Androsthenes, who sailed to a part of the peninsula of Arabia.[vi] Androsthenes wrote a book describing his voyage. The book is lost, but his work was a subject of study by the later Greek historians and geographers. For example, Strabo in his 16th book of Geography quoted Eratosthenes who quoted Androsthenes in his survey[vii]. A fragment of the work of Androsthenes recounting his voyage is preserved by Athenaeus (iii. p. 93).
The third naval expedition Alexander sent was under Hieron of Soli. Arrian wrote:
“Hieron of Soli, the pilot, also received a triacontor from Alexander and advanced farthest of those whom he had despatched to this region; for he had received instructions to sail round the whole Arabian peninsula as far as the Arabian Gulf near Egypt over against Heroopolis. Though he had sailed round the greater part of Arabia Hieron did not dare go further, but turned back to Babylon.” [viii]
Hieron’s sailing “round the greater part of Arabia” means that he sailed around western Arabia. But he turned back. We suppose the reason Hieron turned back before reaching the Egyptian Gulf opposite to Heroopolis was the arid tract of central western Arabia. We can understand this from another document in which Arrian wrote about a voyage of Nearchus, who was instructed “to find out what men inhabit it, to discover the harbors and rivers in it, to ascertain the customs of the people, and to see if any of the country was fertile and if any was sterile. This was why Alexander’s naval expedition returned in safety; for if it had sailed beyond the deserts of Arabia, it would not have returned in safety. This is said also to have been the reason that Hieron turned back.” [ix]
This means that Hieron turned back because he found deserted regions that were not safe. There were no inhabitants or cities or harbors to give anchorage for his fleet. This corresponds to the part of western Arabia where Mecca was later built, a region that later Greek geographers described as uninhabitable.
The words of Arrian in chapter 20: 10cited above help us understand how the Greek explorers were explicitly instructed to explore and learn about the inhabitants, their costumes, the fertility of the lands, etc. They had to give a complete picture. Sailing around Arabia allowed them to gather in-depth information about the lands and the cities that existed in their day. The information they gathered became an important resource for the later Greek explorers of Arabia, not one of whom mentioned Mecca. This suggests that during the 4th century B.C. Mecca did not exist.
The Expedition of Anaxicrates
A previous expedition that Alexander sent while still in Egypt is very important. He sent Anaxicrates from the Egyptian city of Heroopolis to explore western Arabia. Scholars consider Anaxicrates’ reconnaissance very successful. In his book The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia (published by the Cambridge University Press), Dr. Himanshu Prabha Ray wrote: “Anaxicrates surveyed the whole of the Western coast of Arabia as far as the Bab-al-Mandeb.” [x] Dr. Stanley Burstein, an expert in the ancient geography of Arabia, stated that Anaxicrates provided an “accurate account of political conditions in Western Arabia.” [xi] This means that Anaxicrates rendered an accurate account of the nations, cities, and tribes that dominated the region of western Arabia.
The rich information Anaxicrates gathered on his expedition explains in large part why the Greeks had such extensive knowledge about western Arabia. As such, Anaxicrates was an important source for later geographers. He gave measurements of the regions, and the geographer Strabo (in XVI.iv.4) cited Anaxicrates’ estimation of distance. This proves that Anaxicrates’ works were studied by important geographers and historians such as Strabo, Agatharchides, and others who described the cities and tribes of the region of western Arabia–none of whom mentioned Mecca. Strabo even accompanied the Roman military campaign into western Arabia. The Roman army stopped in the city of Hegra, the Nabataean city of al-Hijr in north Arabia. The army then followed the route that passed through the area where Mecca was later built en route to the city of Nejran (on the northern border of Yemen). Then the army proceeded until it reached the city of Maarib, the capital of Saba. The Roman expedition cited the names of the cities that existed on that tract of western Arabia at the time of their expedition (around 23 B.C.) but made no mention of Mecca.
Scholars such as Stanely Burstein hold that Agatharchides drew heavily from Anaxicrates’ voyage to South and West Arabia. [xii]
Since Anaxicrates was meticulous enough to study the distances between the cities in the regions he explored, would he not have given an account of the inhabitants who lived in the coastal region, such as the region where Mecca was later built, and the cities that existed in those regions in his day?! Yet he made no mention of Mecca.
Burstein has written: “Three explorers who surveyed the coasts of the Red Sea during reigns of Ptolemy II (282-246 B.C.) and Ptolemy III: Satyrus, Simmias and Ariston repeated the voyage of Anaxicrates.” [xiii] They began in the north, describing the peoples and tribes of northwestern Arabia, until they reached Yemen. Agatharchides and other Greeks who wrote about western Arabia consulted the reconnaissances of those earlier explorers, which proves that the information about western Arabia substantiates the accounts rendered in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.
A religious city that was a center of monotheism, according to the claims of Islam, could simply not have been missed by those explorers of the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C., especially in light of the claim that it had a temple, and the Greeks report every important temple that existed in the vast regions they explored. That they made no mention of the Kaabah temple, which Islam claims was on the very route connecting north Arabia with Yemen that the Greek explorers walked and described, is an important proof that neither the temple of Mecca nor Mecca itself existed in their times.
The expeditions sent by Alexander the Great is of special importance, because Alexander is known to have studied the cultural, historical and religious aspects of each country before battle, in order to determine how to deal with its inhabitants. If Mecca had existed at the time of Alexander’s expedition, it would have attracted attention from the expeditions whom he sent ahead. If the Muslim’s claim that Mecca, as the center of a monotheistic religion, had existed since the time of Abraham, it would have attracted worshippers from tribes in Arabia, including Yemen. Therefore, it would have been the subject of Alexander’s explorers. In fact, no other city would have been more important to present to their master Alexander the Great, who doted passionately on religion and the history of religions, than a center of monotheism with a temple. The fact that they did not mention Mecca, though the Islamic claim that Mecca was a pilgrimage city in Arabia from ancient times, is historical proof that Mecca did not exist in the 4th century B.C. This leads us to the conclusion that the Qur’an and the Muslim claims about this city are historically inaccurate. When comparing the historical claims of the Qur’an with those of the Bible, we find that the Biblical claims are true and historically accurate. By contrast, I cannot find a single critic in history who has argued the non-existence of Jerusalem and its central importance for the Israelites. Records concerning Jerusalem and its monotheistic faith have come from each generation since the time the Israelites entered into the Promised Land in the 15th century B.C. Records from Mesopotamia and Egypt all contain important entries about Jerusalem. We find in Hebrew literature complete records about the kings who reigned in the city of Jerusalem. Much literature attested to by both internal and external records tells about the monotheistic worship by the Jews in the Temple of Jerusalem. These facts should convince our Muslim friends to return to the historical legacy of a monotheistic worship as proclaimed in the Bible and known throughout documented history – and not to give heed to claims which create a worship without any historical foundation housed in a pagan temple built in the 5th century A.D. THEOPHRASTOS’ SURVEYTheophrastos‘ survey also excludes the existence of Mecca during the end of the 3rd century B.C.
We continue our study by looking at the works of other classical writers who wrote on the geography of Arabia. If we really study these works, we’ll learn that they prove that Mecca did not exist until after the 4th century A.D.
An important Greek historian, Theophrastos, lived in the 4th century B.C. He wrote about the Sabaeans – their trade, their land and their marine routes. He wrote in detail about the region but he never mentioned Mecca. That is significant, because Muslims claim that, in ancient history, Mecca was a center of commerce with Yemen and the Sabaeans. In spite of this claim, we find that Theophrastos, who specialized in describing details about the region – especially trade connections and the routes – did not mention Mecca.
After the death of Alexander the Great, many classical writers and historians arose who were concerned about the geography and history of Arabia. Most of these historians and geographers lived in the city of Alexandria, which was the capital of the Ptolemies. The first university in the world was established in Alexandria, and it boasted of a famous library, the Library of Alexandria. One of the most important historical figures of Alexandria was the famous geographer, Eratosthenes. He lived between 275-195 B.C., he contributed greatly to documenting the geography of Arabia. Eratosthenes gathered important information from various resources.
We know of many authors who visited and wrote about the Red Sea region during the 3rd century B.C. Among them are: Pythagoras,[xiv] who was an admiral under Ptolemy II, Basilis, Dalion, Bion of Soli, Simonides the Younger, Aristocreon, and Philon. Those books were available in the famous Library of Alexandria. In fact, we understand from the narration of Strabo, that Eratosthenes made a collection of these books.[xv]
He examined the data obtained by the explorers who were sent by Alexander the Great, and data by geographical expeditions initiated by the Alexander Ptolemaic successors.[xvi] These Greek expeditions continued through the 3rd century B.C.[xvii]
Information from the expeditions of Ptolemy II in 278 B.C. encompassed the southern and middle regions of the Red Sea and the African coast. They were used to help in the control of the spice route coming from India and Yemen. This information was also used to facilitate elephant hunts. Elephants were used in the Ptolemies wars against the Seleucids, the royal Greek family which dominated Syria. These factors opened the door for a systematic collection of geographical data of the African coast of the Red Sea and the Arabian coast. The results of this geographical activity was the book of Eratosthenes, and an important map.
Eratosthenes measured the length of the Red Sea. He also gave a complete survey of the land and marine routes which connect southern Arabia with Aqaba, or Ilat on the north, which is the Israeli port on the Red Sea. He described all the people and centers in the region, but he didn’t mention Mecca, even though he followed the land route upon which Mecca was eventually built. Classical Geographers Describe the Area Where Mecca was Eventually Built as “Uninhabitable.” Among the things which Eratosthenes described is the Arabian region, which corresponds to Africa’s coastal region along the Red Sea called the Troglodytic Land.[xviii] This African region is an important region for our study because there is a huge desert area opposite it on the Arabian coast of the Red Sea. This was described by the classical geographers. The southern part of this Arabian region was an arid area without cities or villages. It was a dangerous region where savage nomads roamed from time to time, attacking caravans. This area was described by the classical writers as uninhabitable, dividing the region of Northern Arabia from Southern Arabia. Yet, it was the most fearful tract in the land route. Beginning of the 3rd century B.C., they began using the land route in commerce with Israel and Syria; I mean the land route, which lies adjacent to the Red Sea, passing through the area where Mecca was eventually built.It continued to be the most dangerous tract of land until after the Christian era. Eratosthenes mentioned the area of Arabia, opposite to the African Red Sea region called Troglodytic Land. While geographers, who came in the centuries following Eratosthenes, described some areas near this one. The historian Eratosthenes failed to find or describe inhabitants who lived close to this region. This tells us that in 275-195 B.C., at the time of Eratosthenes, many areas around this one were not inhabited. They were part of a huge desert. Since the land route beside the Red Sea from Yemen toward Palestine was scarcely used in Eratosthenes’ time, we can conclude that no villages were yet established in the middle of western Arabia, along the land route. We know that Eratosthenes’ report expresses not only his time – starting from the end of the 3rd century B.C. – but also the various geographers who ventured and visited the area before, starting with the explorers of the Alexander the Great during the last part of the 4th century B.C. If Mecca had existed in Eratosthenes’ time, how had he failed to put it on his map of that region? It would have become a refuge for the travelers and their caravans, and would have become the pride of the Red Sea. No villages or cities were described by him, or by those who explored before him, because no villages or cities existed. Mecca would have become a center of rest and hope for the geographers and those who crossed that arid and terrible tract of the desert. If Mecca had existed in Eratosthenes’ time it would likely have been the main reference point for his map to fill in the arid area of central western Arabia, a region which later maps also depicted without cities and villages. If the Muslim claim that Mecca was a pilgrimage city for all Arabians, why would Eratosthenes portray central western Arabia as a void area both in his description and on his map, making no mention of Mecca?
But, unfortunately, geographers such as Eratosthenes did not have any city or village to use as a reference in the area where Mecca was eventually built. Since there were no villages in that arid desert region, there could be no temple to attract pilgrims from all over the world to worship, as Mohammed claimed. Nor were there religious or non-religious tribes which would require a temple to be built for their worship. In reality, reports of the geographers confirm that the Kaabah of Mecca was a pagan temple for tribes which emigrated to those regions in the centuries after the Christ.
How ironic it is to build a historical, monotheistic faith on this arid uninhabited tract of the desert. And how strange that it shifted people’s attention from the Truth to Arabian paganism in the centuries following the Christian era.
If this is the picture of this neglected part of the desert in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C., even when the initiated land route had just scarcely started, then how unrealistic it is to conclude that this part of the desert was a center of the monotheism in the 21st century B.C. at the time of the patriarch Abraham, where no land routes were known, Yemen, itself, was unknown to the contemporaries of the patriarch. To build an eternal hope on this tract of sand, which did not express life through history to help anyone create a religious legacy, is fatal for the soul. However, the tribe of Mohammed came to live on this unimportant region of sand in the 5th century A.D. After emigrating from Yemen, and after Mohammed claimed himself as prophet of Allah, he wanted to shift the legacy of the Bible to his tribe’s new location; yet, it did not affect the historical reports about such tract of the desert. Our Muslim friends need to return to the real legacy of monotheism known in history. They need to acquire a Biblical view, where it is prophesied many times that the true Savior of the world is Jesus Christ. This is the only trustworthy legacy through which all people are called by God to seek Him and His salvation. Many, many people in every generation have received salvation when they have believed in the atoning death of Christ as prophesied in the Old Testament.
Isaiah, who prophesied in 750 B.C. concerning the suffering of Christ, said in chapter 53, verses 4 and 5:
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
This is an invitation for every person who longs to be healed from his or her sin, to look to the righteous Lamb who was slain for us on the cross. Jesus did not refuse to be led to the place where He would be slain, as Isaiah also prophesied in the next verse:
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
He was willing to be slain, though He is the all-powerful One about whom Isaiah said in chapter 9, verse 6:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.
The powerful God went to the Cross –though He was able to avoid it – because He was willing to pay the penalty for our sins so that we can live forever. In Isaiah 53, we read a detailed prophecy regarding the death and resurrection of Christ, as prophesied by Isaiah in the 8th century B.C.
AGATHARCHIDES’ SURVEY ON WESTERN ARABIA
THE ACCURACY OF HIS SURVEY AS A RELIABLE SOURCE FOR OUR STUDY. In our study, we now come to the 2nd century B.C. Without doubt, the most important geographer and historian of the time was Agatharchides of Alexandria, who wrote between 145-132 B.C. He was born at the Greek city of Cnidus. He was believed to be a major figure in compiling Egypt’s political history in the late 2nd century B.C.[xix]
Because he was very close to the royal palace of the Ptolemies, he had first-hand knowledge of the results of the expeditions which took place throughout the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C., especially in the regions around the Red Sea, the African shore and West and South Arabia. He had access to sources which documented the achievements of the Ptolemies. These were mainly reports presented by the envoys of the kings during the 3rd and the beginning of the 2nd century B.C.[xx] Agatharchides coordinated all the information as a keen synthesizer and analyzer. He documented the names of the explorers who visited the region. Among those he mentioned was the name of the geographer, Ariston. That geographer is the one whom Ptolemy dispatched in the 3rd century B.C. to explore Arabia, especially the regions of West Arabia near the Red Sea where Mecca was later built.[xxi]
Agatharchides mentioned the name of other explorers, such as Simmias, whom Ptolemy III sent to explore the region. Agatharchides told how Simmias described the region, and how this had become an important resource.[xxii]
Agatharchides also studied books written by other geographers sent by the Ptolemies.[xxiii] Scholars think he drew heavily from Anaxicrates’ voyage to South and West Arabia.[xxiv] We know, as I previously mentioned, that at least seven authors who visited and wrote about the Red Sea region during the 3rd century B.C. Among them are: Pythagoras,[xxv] Basilis, Dalion, Bion of Soli, Simonides the Younger, Aristocreon, and Philon. Scholars assert that Agatharchides consulted all of their writings. Agatharchides synthesized and gathered information from reports and books which explorers and geographers had written before his time. He also depended upon people he encountered whom he called “eyewitnesses.” Among them were envoys of the king – traders and explorers who visited the regions surrounding the Red Sea. Unfortunately, the original documented survey of Agatharchides on the Erythraean Sea disappeared, but almost the entire book has survived in the writings of three classical writers: Strabo, Photius and Diodorus(Diodorus Siculus). The most significant summary of Agatharchides’ book is found in Photius’ book, Bibliotheca.
The accuracy of his survey is very much accepted by scholars. The expeditions and discoveries from the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. confirmed the accuracy of the writings of Agatharchides, as they corresponded completely to his writings. Burstein, in his bookAgatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, describes it this way, “they have vindicated its basic accuracy so that, once again, it is recognized by scholars as one of the most important sources for the study of the history and human geography of ancient northeast Africa and western Arabia to survive from antiquity.”[xxvi]
One example scholars give to defend Agatharchides’ accuracy is how he described the shores and adjoining water. Agatharchides tells us that the color of the water opposite Saba Land, South Arabia, was white, like river water. The phenomenon is still true today.[xxvii] Another element which proves the accuracy and value of his writings is the similarity between his descriptions of tribes and people living in the area, and the description of the same people in later reports.[xxviii] Agatharchides gives measurements of various tracts along the shores of the Red Sea in West Arabia. This tells us that his writing depended on testimony from expert geographers who examined the shore and the regions of Arabia connected to it.
Ptolemies wanted an exact study of the region to protect their trade in the Red Sea, and to know how to deal with various groups of population or tribes living in regions connected with the Red Sea. They also wanted to know the exact lengths of regions where the trade might find uninhabited areas, or areas with savage tribes or Bedouins. This justified the quantity and the quality of a prolonged, intensive and accurate study through the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C., where the Ptolemies started to control the movement of trade on the Red Sea, and deal with piracy which threatened such trade coming from the interior Arabian regions. The book of Agatharchides reflected the success of the Greek geographers in providing to the Ptolemies accurate and detailed geographical and geographical information of the region of West Arabia.
Although Agatharchides wrote about locations along the Red Sea, including all the temples and routes which pass through the area where Mecca was eventually built, he never mentioned Mecca, nor its temple.
In his description of West Arabia, Agatharchides mentions each of the populations present in the 3rd century B.C. and the first half of the 2nd century B.C., in the regions adjacent to the Red Sea. He began with the Nabataeans, who had their capital in south Jordan and then penetrated into north Arabia, and he went on to describe each population, city, port, temple and mountain, until he reached Yemen. Here’s what we learn from Agatharchides’ accounts: He passed through the region where Mecca was later built, but he never mentioned Mecca, nor did he mention a single temple in that region, although temples were a central subject in his study. We find him stopping to give the origin of the Poseidon Temple, in the northwest coast of Sinai. He tells who built it and for whom it was built. We find him also giving much attention to the temple located in the Negev desert, saying:
There is also an ancient altar that is made of hard stone and bears an inscription in lettering that is archaic and unintelligible. The sanctuary is cared for by a man and a woman who occupy their sacred office for life.[xxix]
Agatharchides accurately reports the Greek trend to know about the temples existing in each region, especially in Sinai and West Arabia, where a temple is a rarity. The Greeks had a passion to know the origin of each temple. In the temple in the Negev, the Greeks made an effort to analyze the archaic inscription carved in the stone altar. They also described the source of the priesthood who served in the temple.
If Mecca and its temple existed in that period, it would have been of great interest to the Greeks because the location where Mecca was built was on a land route which the Greek explorers used. If Mecca and its Kaabah existed then, as the Muslims claim, every Greek geographer would have stopped there to describe it. It stands to reason that they would have mentioned who built the temple and what was its religious purpose. Yet, that arid uninhabited area did not host any temple or religious tradition for those who lived in Palestine thousands of years earlier such as Abraham and Ishmael.
Agatharchides describes a temple along the Gulf of Aqaba.
Agatharchides told about another temple close to Ilat in the Aqaba gulf area. It is in a land belonging to a tribe called “Batmizomaneis.” Agatharchides emphasizes that the temple, in his own words, “is highly revered by all the Arabs.”[xxx]
Many Muslims claim that Agatharchides’ temple was actually the Temple of Mecca. To fix the exact place of that temple, let’s follow the narration of Agatharchides, as reported by Photius and Diodorus. Agatharchides began to describe regions north of this temple, including the Nabataeans around the Gulf of Aqaba. The Northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba was called the Laeanites Gulf. In Photius and Diodorus, Agatharchides says:
One encounters the Laeanites Gulf around which there are many villages of the so-called Nabataean Arabs. They occupy much of the coast and not a little of the adjacent country which extends into the interior and contains a population that is unspeakably great as well as herds of animals that are unbelievably numerous. In ancient times they led a just life and were satisfied with livelihood provided by their flocks, but later, after the kings in Alexandria had made the gulf navigable for merchants, they attacked those who suffered shipwreck. They also built pirate vessels and plundered sailors, imitating the ferocity and lawlessness of the Tauri in the Pontus. But later they were caught at sea by quadriremes and properly punished. After what is called the Laeanites Gulf, around which Arabs live, is the land of the Bythemaneas.
The Gulf of Ilat was called Alenites or Aelaniticus. The gulf of Laeanites, which is in the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba, is thought to be the Gulf of Ilat.
Notice that the land of Bythemaneas is connected to the south of the Nabataeans’ region, which extended during the second and third centuries B.C. to the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba.( see fig. 2). Musil, a famous scholar on Arabia, declared that this land was the “lower portion of the Wadi al- Abjaz, namely the so-called Wadi al ‘efal, a lowland 50 Km long by 20 km wide just east of the Gulf of Aqaba.”[xxxi] The narration of Agatharchides continues:
Next after this section of the coast is a bay which extends into the interior of the country for a distance of not less than five hundreds stades. Those who inhabit the territory within the gulf are called Batmizomaneis and are hunters of land animals.
The stade, or stadia, according to the system of Eratosthenes, equals one tenth of an English mile,[xxxii] thus making the land of Bythemaneas only about 50 miles. He is placing the inhabitants of Batmizomaneis within the gulf region, as we see from his statement, “Those who inhabit the territory within the gulf are called Batmizomaneis.” referring to the bay, which he described previously to be near the Gulf of Aqaba, adjacent to the land of the Nabataeans. The Nabataean’s domain still existed during the second and third centuries B.C. around the city of Petra and into the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba. It is clear that the people called Batmizomaneis inhabited the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba.
The narration of Diodorus is parallel to that of Photius because both copied the writings of Agatharchides in his fifth book On the Erythraean Sea. Diodorus says:
The people who inhabit the country beside the gulf, who are named the Banizomenes, support themselves by hunting and eating the flesh of land animals. A very sacred temple has been established there which is highly revered by all the Arabs.
We see that both Photius and Diodorus placed the people of Banizomenes (or Batmizomaneis) beside the gulf of the Laeanites, or Ilat that is the northern part of Gulf of Aqaba, a great distance from where Mecca was eventually built. Mecca is in central western Arabia, very close to Yemen. Following their comments on Banizomenes, the two authors speak of another area in the south, the Thamud territory. They describe it in these words, “after these it is the territory of the Thamoudeni Arabs.” [xxxiii] The Thamud tribe was known in history to inhabit northern Arabia close to the Aqaba gulf; they never reached to the south, toward the area where Mecca was later built. So the temple described by Diodorus was between the Thamud region and the city of Petra, within the Gulf of Aqaba region.
After Photius mentioned the Thamud region, he mentioned the next segment to the south of Thamud. [xxxiv] Scholars have identified this segment as the portion of the coast between Ras karama (25 54 N, 36 39 E) and Ras Abu Madd (24 50 N, 37 08 E). [xxxv] Ras Abu Madd is about 450 kilometers (280 miles) north of Mecca. This accurate study shows clearly that the temple mentioned by Diodorus was in the Aqaba Gulf region, north to the Thamud region, and could not be identified with the Temple of Mecca (see Fig.2 ).
Nonnosus, seems to speak about the same temple at the same place close to Petra. This temple is built to honor the Arabian deities. Nonnosus wrote:
Most of the Saracens, those Phoinikon and those beyond the Taurenian mountains, consider as sacred a place dedicated to I do not know what god and they assemble there twice a year.[xxxvi]
The Saracens are a people mentioned by Pliny in Natural History, Book V, chapter 12, as people who live in the Gulf of Aqaba not far from the city of Petra. The Romans called them “Saracenus.” They were tribes who inhabited the desert connected with Edom, south of Jordan, near to the city of Petra[xxxvii].Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D. mentioned “Saracene” as part of Arabia Petraea, and placed it in Sinai between southern Palestine and Egypt. This suggests that in the 2nd century A.D. the Saracens had spread into regions around about Sinai. Epiphanius Scholasticus, a translator of many Greek works, in his Christian histories compiled in the middle of the 6th century, placed Saracens east of the Gulf of Aqaba but beyond the Roman province of Arabia. [xxxviii] Epiphanius described the Saracens in the 6th century as they became restricted to their original home, which was east of the Gulf of Aqaba.
To locate Phoinikon, which was mentioned by Nonnosus, we have to consult the works of the historians of the 6th century (Nonnosus’ day) who mentioned Phoinikon. Among those was Procopius. Procopius wrote that Abochorabus gave the oasis of Phoinikon to Justinian, the Byzantine Emperor, as a gift. Abochorabus was Abu Karib, a Ghassanide leader over the Saracens in the area of Gulf of Aqaba. Abu Karib was the son of Jabla, the Ghassanide king of Bilad al Sham (Southern Syria), which was under the Byzantine Empire. Jabla died in the year 529 A.D. He had two sons: Arethas, who became successor of his father on Bilad al Sham, and Abu Karib, who reigned over the regions toward the Gulf of Aqaba. Dr. Irfan al Shahid wrote: “We know from epigraphy that Procopius’ Abochorabus is in fact Abu Karib, son of Jabala and brother of Arethas”[xxxix]
To determine the location of Phoinikon, which was also described in the writing of Procopius by the name ofPalm Groves, we return to the following writing of Procopius:
“This coast immediately beyond the boundaries of Palestine is held by Saracens, who have been settled from old in the Palm Groves. These groves are in the interior, extending over a great tract of land, and there absolutely nothing grows except palm trees. Abochorabus (Abu Karib) presented Emperor Justinian with the Palm Grove, Phoinikon. Abochorabus was the ruler of the Saracens there, and he was appointed by the emperor captain over the Saracens in Palestine. And he guarded the land from plunder constantly, for both to the barbarians over whom he ruled and no less to the enemy, Abochorabus always seemed a man to be feared and an exceptionally energetic fellow. Formally, therefore, the emperor holds the Palm Groves, but for him really to possess himself of any of the country there is utterly impossible. For a land completely destitute of human habitation and extremely dry lies between, extending to the distance of a ten days’ journey; moreover the Palm Groves themselves are by no means worth anything, and Abochorabus only gave the form of a gift, and the emperor accepted it with full knowledge of the fact. So much then for the Palm Groves.”[xl]
Procopius continued: “Adjoining this people there are Maddeni.”[xli]Those are the Midianites, whose homeland was east of the Gulf of Aqaba. This confirms that the Saracens of the Palm Groves, Phoinikon, lived adjacent to the Midianites in the east of Aqaba Gulf.
We know from a document found in al-Nabk (between Palmyra and Damascus) that Abu Karib was an important figure in the history of the Monophysite church.[xlii]Later, Abu Karib’s main city was Sadaqa, some 25 kilometers southeast of Petra. A Petra papyri, Roll 83, called the King’s Scroll, reports that he was involved in arbitrating a dispute between some citizens of the area.[xliii]
After Abu Karib presented Phoinikon to the emperor Justinian as a gift, the emperor appointed him as phylarch on the Saracens of Palestine.[xliv]Phoinikonbecame a part of the province of Palestine, governed by Abu Karib for the Byzantines. This province included Sinai and Negev. Before this, however, Abu Karib governed the Saracens of Phoinikon. [xlv]
Two oases have been proposed most often as the location of Phoinikon: Dumat al-Jandal and Tabuk. Both had established connections with Byzantium.
In his campaign to the city of Tabuk, Mohammed prayed in the temple of Tabuk[xlvi]This temple was known to the people of the caravans who came from Hejaz and other regions of Arabia traveling toward Syria and Palestine. No doubt this temple was known to Mohammed who led the caravans of Khadijeh to Syria, before she became his first wife. This was before he claimed to be a prophet. He had to pass by and stop in Tabuk. On his incursion to Tabuk, he went to the temple there. (Muslims used to call the temples mosques.) According to al Waqidi’s book Maghazi (the first narration about the incursions of Mohammed) Mohammed placed a stone in front of the temple area.
“when the apostle of Allah reached Tabuk, he placed a stone in front of the Mosque of Tabuk, …then he said: ‘from here is al- Sham.’”[xlvii]He wanted to say that his incursion had set new boundaries. Tabuk was part of Al-Sham, a possession of the Ghassanides who governed al-Sham (southern Syria) under the Byzantines. Mohammed wanted to say that the boundaries of the Ghassanides after his incursion became beyond that stone and that everything he reached in his incursion became his.
In fact, Tabuk was the farthest southern place of the Byzantines. In the year 628-629 A.D. the Ghassanides and the Byzantines recaptured Tabuk.
Therefore, the temple that Nonnosus mentioned was in an oasis where, he said, Saracens and the people of Phoinikon worshipped. We saw above that the Saracens inhabited the region east of the Gulf of Aqaba. The oasis of Phoinikon was under the dominion of the Ghassanides and was governed by the Ghassanide Abu Karib, who presented the oasis as a gift to the Byzantine emperor Justinian. These facts mean that the oasis cannot be identified with Mecca, for the Saracens never lived at Mecca nor in its region. Mecca was never under the domain of the Ghassanides or the Byzantines. Those descriptions are congruous with an oasis in the northern extremity of Arabia where the Ghassanides governed for the Byzantines. Tabuk is most likely the oasis and its temple is the temple of which Nonnosus wrote.
From Procopius we know that “the Saracens always dedicated about two months to their god, during which time they never undertook any inroad into the land of others.”[xlviii]So the worship of the Saracens in their main temple left its imprint on the Arabians who used to pass by on their way to Syria with their caravans and stopped there to worship. Thus, the idea of months Haram, where no wars are permitted, became a ritual observed by many tribes in Arabia, including Quraish of Mecca.
We have seen that Nonnosus said this about the worship of that temple: “Most of the Saracens, those Phoinikon and those beyond the Taurenian mountains, consider as sacred a place dedicated to I do not know what god and they assemble there twice a year.”[xlix]
Crone contends that the Taurenian Mountains were Jabal Tayyi’,[l] which are in northern Najed in North Arabia. In this case this temple located in the east of the Gulf of Aqaba would have attracted worshippers from the east of that region. It is most likely, however, that the Taurenian Mountains are al Tor mountains, which are located in southern part of Sinai close to the Red Sea. We know that some Saracens lived there. This region was part of the province that the emperor Justinian assigned to Abu Karib.
Diodorus and Nonnosus spoke of the same temple
Diodorus mentioned a temple in the land of a small tribe, Banizomenes, in the area of the Gulf of Aqaba where “all Arabs worshipped.” Knowing that the Greeks and Romans used the term “Arabs” for all the peoples of Arabia, including Trans-Jordan and Sinai, helps us understand Diodorus’ statement that the temple was honored by all Arabs. This leads us to assume that Nonnosus was speaking about the same temple that Diodorus mentioned.
Diodorus wrote that the temple was built to honor the Arabian deities. The Greek historians’ and geographers’ remarks about this temple, though situated on the extreme north of Arabia and within the secondary tribe’s domain, are very significant. At a certain time there were tribes in northern Arabia (on the southern border with Jordan) who worshipped at this temple with other Arabian tribes as well. Obviously, the temple’s location became well-known because of the caravans that came from the interior of Arabia and passed through the land of Banizomenes, which was situated on the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba near the city of Petra. We saw above how Mohammed and his companions entered the Tabuk temple to worship during his incursion to Tabuk.
The Greeks are very careful to distinguish the temple, which has special importance and is revered by many, in a land, regardless of where it is located.
With such propensity of the Greek historians and geographers, it seems impossible that they could fail to mention a temple with a special claim such as to draw worshippers from all tribes, as Islam claims, for the Temple of Mecca. The fact is that neither Mecca, nor its temple, is mentioned by Agatharchides, although he pursued with such passion all temples existent until his time. This is a clear indication that Mecca, and, its temple, did not exist during such times.
Agatharchides covered the narrations of geographers of the 3rd century B.C., and of his time, which was the first part of the 2nd century B.C. Scholars today confirm the fact that the temple near the Aqaba Gulf, close to the border with South Jordan, was revered by Arabian tribes, just as the classical authors had written.
Arabian sources confirm the pilgrimage of the Arabian tribes to a temple in the north of Arabia
Through a phrase attributed to Amru bin Luhy, we understand that the tribes in north western Arabia performed the Hajj to two main places. Luhy’ phrase is, “The Lord passes his winters in al Taif with Ellat, and his summers with al Uza.” [li] Which reveals that many tribes in that area made the Hajj to the city of Taif, where there was a Kaaba dedicated to Ellat. Tribes went at other times during the year to other Kaabas dedicated to al Uza.
Scholars today believe that even Quraish, which is the tribe of Mohammed, traveled north every year to a revered temple. There are many proofs that Quraish neglected the temple of Mecca and made their Hajj to the north. Wellhausen quotes the words of al-Kalbi, “people would go on a pilgrimage and then disperse, leaving Mecca empty.” [lii] In their thinking, another temple had pre-eminence over Kaabah, the temple at Mecca.
Verses in the Qur’an tell us that the citizens of Mecca used to make a trip “far away,” but later the Qur’an put a stop to the practice. Mohammed also prohibited people from making this religious trip after he occupied Mecca. Quraish used to go to Taif in the summer. This is attested to by a saying of Ibn Abbas, as reported in the Tabari. [liii] The other trip may be toward a northern temple.
Agatharchides’ survey, along with what we have discussed, confirms the fact that Mecca and its temple didn’t exist during the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. Even when the temple was eventually built in later centuries A.D., it was a local temple of secondary importance, disregarded even by the tribe to which Mohammed belonged. Mohammed’s tribe used to make a pilgrimage with other Arabian tribes to a temple in the far northern part of Arabia.
It is unhistorical to believe the Islamic claim that the temple in Mecca was built by Abraham and Ishmael as a center of monotheistic worship for Arabia. Muslims today need to renounce this claim and return to the true monotheism of history, the revelation of God, which the Bible alone represents. Such Biblical revelation has been documented in all epochs since the time Moses received the first five books of the Bible until Revelation, the last book of the New Testament.
The temple that Nonnosus wrote about in the Gulf of Aqaba area was twice a year a center of Hajj for some Arabian tribes. Quraish went there once a year.
This temple mentioned by Agatharchides in northern Arabia in the Aqaba Gulf region is attested to by Nonnosus. Previously, I quoted the words of Nonnosus regarding this temple, as we find them in the book of Photius:
Most of the Saracens, those Phoinikon and those beyond the Taurenian mountains, consider a place dedicated to I do not know what god as sacred, and assemble there twice a year.
The first of these gatherings lasts a whole month and goes on until the middle of Spring. The other lasts two months. While these gatherings last, they live in complete peace not only with each other, but also with all the people who live in their country. They claim that even the wild beasts live in peace with men and, what is more, among themselves.[liv]
This tells us that the northern temple was a place where many tribes would perform a pilgrimage twice a year. During this pilgrimage, the tribes abstained from fighting each other. If one of the religious trips of Quraish was to this temple, it is clear that Mohammed tried to stop this famous and historical Arabian temple pilgrimage. He directed Quraish, the tribe of Mecca, as well as other tribes, to make the pilgrimage to Mecca instead.
From the quotation of Nonnosus, we see that the northern temple had similarities between their rituals and the rituals we encounter in the temple at Mecca and in other temples of Arabia. These rituals included the Hajj, and abstinence from war during the Hajj. These rituals performed in the temple of Mecca reflect those of pagan Arabian religions. The Temple of Mecca was built in the 5th century A.D. by Tubb’a, the Himyarite leader of Yemen. However, the Quraish tribe, like many Arabian tribes, continued to make a pilgrimage twice a year. The word “Hajj” means pilgrimage. Scholars think the Quraish were regularly traveling on these pilgrimages to the temple at Taif and to a temple located in the far north of Arabia. These travels were performed long before Mohammed imposed worship at the Temple of Mecca on all Muslims and annulled worship at the other temples of Arabia.
Therefore, with the accuracy of Agatharchides and the geographers of that time, we see that neither the temple of Mecca nor the city of Mecca existed at that time. Instead, there was another temple, which attracted the Arabian tribes. That temple was located near the border between northern Arabia and Jordan.
Quraish, the tribe of Mohammed, occupied Mecca after it was built around the 4th century A.D. by another tribe called Khuzaa’h which had come from Yemen. Even after the Temple of Mecca was built in the city later, the Quraish continued the practice of many Arabian tribes and made a pilgrimage twice a year.
The Qur’an in Sura Quraish 106, verses 1-3, prohibits the tribe to do their “covenant” for two journeys. I think the two pilgrimages to a northern temple and to the temple of Taif are intended in the Qur’anic verse and, instead, compel them to worship Allah in the Temple of Mecca. Sura Quraish 106, verses 1-3, says:
for the covenants by the Quraish; their covenants covering journeys by winter and summer. Let them adore the lord of this house.
Islamic tradition confirms that Quraish used to have two religious Hajj to other places in northern Arabia. Scholars think that Quraish were traveling on these pilgrimages to a temple located in the far north of Arabia and to the Taif temple. These travels were regularly performed before Mohammed imposed worship at the temple of Mecca, called Kaabah, on all Muslims. Mohammed annulled worship at the other temples of Arabia, many of which were also called Kaabah.
Were the two journeys that the Quran prohibited Quraish to perform, commercial or religious Hajj journeys?
When interpreting the Quranic chapter of Quraish about the two journeys of Quraish, some Muslims contend that there were two annual commercial journeys—one caravan to Syria and another to Yemen. The contend that the Quranic verse intended that Quraish quit the commerce and dedicate itself to the service of the pilgrims at Mecca. Historical evidence, however, contradicts this claim, given the true size of commerce of Mecca at that time.
The circumstances in Yemen in the 6th century prepared the way for Mecca to assume the principal role in the trade in western Arabia. Political events caused the Himyarite commercial activity to decline and Mecca to rise as a capital of commerce. Among these events were the Ethiopian campaigns against the Himyarites of Yemen in the year 525/526 A.D. in response to the Himyarite persecutions against the Christians of Nijran in Yemen. In the year 575/577 A.D. the Himyarites, under Maad Karb the third (called Saif bin Dhi Yazan), regained authority over Yemen. This effectively blocked the Himyarites’ trade with Syria, Palestine, and Egypt because these regions were under the Byzantines, who were allies of the Ethiopians. Then came the Persian occupation of Yemen in 577 A.D., which ended the Himyarites’ domain. Thus it was not possible for the Yemenites to carry the goods they brought from Asia and the Persian Gulf to trade with the regions under the Byzantine control, such as Syria, Gaza, Egypt, and Trans-Jordan.
Mecca benefited from the deterioration of political conditions in Yemen, and the Yemeni loss of control of Hejaz. Mecca rose as a central concourse on the land routes. Scholars such as W.M. Watt, maintain that Mecca controlled the commerce in western Arabia beginning in the first part of the 6th century A.D.[lv]
Mecca formed alliances with the tribes in western Arabia and paid them to protect the caravans from piracy[lvi]The Quraish merchants went to southern Syria and Gaza. Gaza was an important commercial market for trade with the nations of Europe and other nations on the Mediterranean Sea. The Quraish merchants brought perfumes, incense, and leather goods, especially the gilded ones, from Yemen.[lvii] They traded various goods that came to Yemen from Asia including spices. In return, they returned to Arabia from their trade in Syria with various foodstuffs such as olive oil and grain.
Quraish made several journeys each year to Syria and Yemen. From the incursions of Mohammed against the caravans of Quraish, we know that Quraish had at least one extensive caravan traveling to Syria each month; some caravans included 2,500 camels. Mohammed often tried to plunder those caravans. For example he once sent his uncle, Hamzeh bin Abdel Mutaleb, with 30 Muslims to ambush a caravan of Quraish that was returning to Mecca from Syria. This was in the 7th month after his emigration to Medina. In the 8th month one month later, he sent Ubeidah bin al Harith with 60 Muslims to plunder another caravan of Quraish as it was returning from Syria. That caravan was led by Abu Sifian accompanied by 200 people of Quraish. In the 9th month after his emigration, one month after the last incursion, Mohammed sent Saad bin Abi Waqqas with a group of Muslims to plunder another caravan coming from Syria. In the 12th month after his emigration, three months after the last incursion, Mohammed himself led his companions to al Abwa’, between Mecca and Medina, to plunder a caravan of Mecca traveling to Syria. Two months later, Mohammed led 200 Muslims in another incursion, known as the incursion of Buwat, to plunder a large Quraish caravan of 2,500 camels returning from Syria. In the 16th month after his emigration he led an incursion called the incursion of al-‘Ashirah with 150 Muslims seeking a caravan of Quraish en route to Syria.
After one month, he sent a group of Muslims under Abdellah bin Jahsh Al-Asadi to plunder the caravans of Quraish that were returning to Mecca from Yemen. When the caravan of Quraish passed close to them carrying goods to Mecca, the Muslims ambushed the caravan, killing one man, taking two men as prisoners, and plundering the caravan.
Those were the incursions in which Mohammed tried to plunder the Quraish caravans. The historical fact is that each month (not merely twice each year) the Quraish had a large caravan whose camels reached 1,500-2,500. A number of wealthy residents of Mecca invested their money and conducted business through these caravans. There were also many smaller caravans owned by certain individuals of Mecca. Contending that Quraish had only two journeys a year—one to Syria and another to Yemen—is simply unhistorical. Therefore, it is inaccurate to contend that Mohammed prohibited Quraish through the Quran to perform the two commercial journeys. Mohammed intended to prohibit Quraish from conducting their own two religious pilgrimages, which one was toward al Taif to worship Ellat, the sun, and the other toward the temple of the north of Arabia, which was most likely the famous temple of Tabuk. As we saw above, Tabuk was called in the past the oasis of Phoinikon, where existed the famous temple honored by the Arabian tribes.
The kaabah of Mecca was part of a religious system involving many kaabahs of Arabia that belonged to Arabian Star Worship.
In the worship before Mohammed’s time, “Kaabah” was the name given to all the temples of the so-called “Family Star Religion” of Arabia. The Kaabah of Mecca was no exception. Each Kaabah had the same basic cubic form, with the same structural details on the inside as are found in the Temple at Mecca. For example, each temple had a well where gifts were placed. Also, each temple had a well which provided holy water for use in the rites of the pilgrimage. In the case of Mecca, this well is called Zamzam.
The Main element in the Kaabahs are the black stones, a key element in worship. These stones are meteorites which the Arabians found and revered. Wherever one of these stones was found, a temple was built around it. So each Kaabah has one black stone which is held in esteem as a deity representing the family star. Pilgrims visiting any of these Kaabahs perform many of the same rites we encounter in the rites at Mecca. For example, men and women wearing special clothing circle around the black stone. The custom was to circle nude around the Kaabah. Groups, such as the Halah, would join the circle completely naked, including the women. [lx]
The Kaabahs originated in Yemen and spread northward. They were dedicated to “The Star Family.” The name of Allah is derived from Hilal, the Thamudi god of the moon. The Kaabahs spread across Arabia with the emigration of many Yemeni tribes in the north. The tribe of Khuzaa’h emigrated from Yemen in the 2nd century A.D. to the area where Mecca was later built. In the 4th century A.D., they built the city of Mecca. Asa’d Abu Karb, the Yemeni leader who occupied Mecca during his reign in Yemen from 410-435 A.D., built the Temple of Mecca with the same specifications as Yemeni existing temples.
The Kaabah was dedicated to the worship of Ellat, the sun, and Allah’s daughters, Manat and al-‘Uzza. Ellat was also the wife of Allah. Every Kaabah was dedicated to Arabian Star Worship. Sometimes it was specifically dedicated to one member of the Star Family. For example, the Kaabah in the city of Taif was dedicated to the worship of Ellat, the wife of Allah.
Other idols were later added to the Kaabah at Mecca, that took special prominence. Another example was Hubul, who was considered by scholars to represent the moon. Two other important idols were Isaf and Naelah. As priests for the Jinn, they were important Kuhhan for the Jinn inside the Kaabah. They also were worshiped after they died. Because of the importance of Isaf and Naelah both for the family of Mohammed and in the Hajj of Umrah, which was dedicated to these two idols. We will later study them in greater detail.
Through the report of Agatharchides, we know that the area where Mecca was eventually built was uninhabited during his time.
We will now return to our discussion of the works of Agatharchides. He is known for describing in detail the regions of Arabia along the Red Sea. He identified all the peoples that lived along the entire Arabian coast of the Red Sea. Agatharchides described the geography from the coast of the Red Sea to 100 miles inland. He mentioned cities like Petra, located about 80 miles from the coast. This was the area that the caravans begin to use in the 3rd century B.C. as their land trading route along the Red Sea.
The Greek and Roman geographers were very interested with the strip of land which extended in depth from the shore of the Red Sea to about 100 miles inland, and in length from Sinai to Yemen. This strip of land is important to our study, because this is the place where Mecca was later built – about 40 miles from the shore. Although sites in this area were well documented, Mecca is absent in the descriptions of all the Greek and Roman geographers from this time who explored and described this strip of land.
There is another historical strip of land which starts about 150-200 miles from the Red Sea in northwestern Arabia. A few cities were built on some of the oases in this region around the 9th century B.C. Among the first cities built were Dedan and Qedar. Other cities were built later, when a trading route developed between the oasis cities and Yemen in the 8th century B.C. Among these cities were Yathrib and Khaybar, which are mentioned in various records of the kings and the people who occupied northwestern Arabia, an area also called Hijaz. The location where Mecca was later built is also located in Hijaz. Mecca is not mentioned in these different records.
One of the kings who ruled in the area of northwestern Arabia, known as Hijaz, was Nabonidus, the Babylonian king. Nabonidus transferred his residence to the city of Teima in northern Arabia for 10 years (550-540 B.C.). In what has been called, the “Verse Account of Nabonidus” we read:
Nabonidus killed the prince of Teima and took his residency and built there his palace like his palace in Babylonia.[lxi]
From an inscription which Nabonidus left at his original city Harran, we know that during his sojourn at Teima he also ruled the cities of Hijaz existing at that time. Among them were Yathrib (Medina) and Khaybar,[lxii] but he did not mention Mecca (see Fig. 4). Mecca, if it existed at that time, would have been the only city of Hijaz which he did not conquer. This would have been strange for a strong Babylonian king to conquer so deep and far into the land of Hijaz, reaching as far as Yathrib, and then spare Mecca. The fact is that he did not mention Mecca because it did not exist in his time, which was the middle of the 6 th century B.C. Therefore, Mecca is absent from the historical picture of the events of northern Arabia during the aforementioned times.
This strip of land bordering the Red Sea holds yet another key to the dating of Mecca. The land is historically attested to by expeditions of Greeks and Romans. It is also attested to by kingdoms that tried to control the trade across it from Yemen toward Palestine and Syria. One of these kingdoms is the Nabataean kingdom, situated on the border between Arabia and Jordan. Another is the Main Kingdom in Yemen. In all their reports, Mecca is absent from the archaeological records.
Agatharchides’ survey covered, in detail, this strip of land along the Red Sea where Mecca was built in later times. He started systematically with the Nabataeans and mentioned a body of water called the Laeanites Gulf.
Then Agatharchides tells us about the land inhabited by people called the Batmizomaneis. He says:
Next after this section of the coast is a bay which extends into the interior of the country for a distance of not less than five hundred stades. Those who inhabit the territory within the gulf are called Batmizomaneis and they are hunters of land animals.[lxiii] ( A “stade” is one eighth of an English mile.)
Fig. 2 shows the Gulf of Aqaba where the land of the Batmizom-aneis is located – south of the Nabataeans and north of the Thamud.
In this land Agatharchides mentioned the temple which all the Arabs used to revere, the temple that I discussed previously. This temple is not the Temple of Mecca; geographers had placed the temple in the land of the Batmizomaneis, close to Petra, about 700 miles distant from where Mecca was built. It is interesting to note that Agatharchides describes each group of people living on the strip along the Red Sea, and he explicitly mentions how far each one’s territory extended into the interior. As a careful Greek geographer, he documented, in detail, all the people and the geography of the strip, mentioning places at least 100 miles into the interior of Arabia.
After describing land along the Red Sea, Agatharchides turns to the Thamud region, which covered a section south of the strip about which we’ve been talking. He says this area is inhabited by “Arabs called Thamoundeni,” or Thamud, a tribe which first appeared in the 8th century B.C. and continued until the 5th century A.D. The existence of the Thamuds is also reflected in Assyrian records, whose inscriptions proved that the Thamuds were scattered through a wide part of northern Arabia, including the strip along the Red Sea. Agatharchides describes many details about this part of strip – the length of the Thamudic coast, and other particulars. This helped scholars to identify the coasts which come next after this Thamudic coast, corresponding to today’s maps of the Red Sea. In fact, the next coast he described has been identified by geographers as the coast between the following current locations in Arabian peninsula: Ras Karkama located at 25 54’ N, 36 39’ E, and Ras Abu Madd located at 24 50’ N, 37 08 E.[lxiv]Ras Abu Madd is about 450 kilometers (280 miles) from Mecca.
After describing the place identified today as Ras Abu Madd, Agatharchides seemed to pass through uninhabited areas. Previously, he would stop to describe the inhabitants of each area, but after leaving the area which the geographers identified with the region that ends with Ras Abu Madd, there are no descriptions of inhabitants. It is unusual for Agatharchides and the other geographers upon whom he depended to fail to describe an area if it was inhabited. To fail to tell about the inhabitants of an area allows us to conclude that the area was uninhabited. This segment without inhabitants corresponds to the strip where Mecca was built in later times. This fact is reconfirmed by other geographical facts not only by scholars recognizing the tract that precedes it, namely, the tract between Ras Karkama and Ras Abu Madd, the two cities which we find today on the map of Arabia. It is also identifiable by the tract, which follows in the description of Agatharchides, which he describes with the following words:
The next part of the coast is dominated by dunes which are infinite in their length and breadth and black in color.
This is identified by scholars with the black basalt Harat Shama half way between Jeddah and the lagoon of al-Sharifa.[lxv] Today, Jeddah is considered as the port of Mecca – it is about 40 miles distant from it. Al-Sharifa is described by the geographical books as “a very long inlet, parallel to the coast immediately northwest of al-Lith, shut in by a long narrow island, Jezirat Qishran.”[lxvi] (See Fig. 3.)
After the area where Jeddah and Mecca were built, Agatharchides described another arid, uninhabited area in his time which extended about 86 miles to the south. From his description, we can see a long tract, starting from Ras Abu Madd until half-way between Jeddah and the Lagoon of al-Sharifa, which was uninhabited in the time of Agatharchides. It is the tract where Mecca was built in later times. This tract is estimated to be about 460 miles in length. Mecca was built in the 4th century A.D., in the middle of this tract which divides northwestern Arabia (particularly where some of the Thamuds came to live along the Red Sea) from other tracts which connect central west Arabia with southern Arabia. It was a huge arid geographical barrier between northwestern Arabia and the southwest, where no inhabitants lived at the time of Agatharchides, who wrote about the 3rd century B.C., and about his times, the middle of the 2nd century B.C.
This observation of Agatharchides about this tract located in central western Arabia is understandable historically, because the tribes which inhabited the north of Arabia along the Red Sea were mainly Lihyanites and Thamuds, along with the Nabataeans who extended their dominion (sometimes) over Northwestern Arabia. None of these tribes were known in history to have lived toward the central western portion of Arabia where this uninhabited tract (that later became the city of Mecca) is situated. All this tells us is that it would be easier for the people of Alaska to claim that Abraham went to the frozen north and built a temple to establish a monotheistic religion, than for Mohammed to claim that Abraham built a temple in an arid tract along the Red Sea in central west Arabia – an area which never attracted people to inhabit it, even the closest tribes of North Arabia. None of the tribes and nations closest to such tract from the southern direction had ever inhabited such tract of central western Arabia. Who would want to build a caravan station in such an arid area? The Maini had already built stations in other regions like Dedan to oversee their trade and protect their caravans. However, they never built a station in the area where Mecca was later built because throughout ancient history, it was known to have been an arid and uninhabited area.
Artemidorus’ survey showed that the tract on central western Arabia, where Mecca was later built, was still uninhabited as late as 103 B.C.
Another Greek geographer and historian, Artemidorus of Ephesus, wrote a total of eleven geography books. He lived around 103 B.C. and was quoted by the historian, Strabo. Although Artemidorus included extensive excerpts from the book of Agatharchides in his eleven-book survey of world geography,[lxvii] he also included additional information gathered by others in his time, and from his own travels, as well.[lxviii] Consequently, Artemidorus, as well as Agatharchides, described the strip of land along the Red Sea. Just like Agatharchides, Artemidorus described the nature of each tract along the coast of the Red Sea and the population who lived there. When he came to the same central western Arabian tract where Mecca was later built, he didn’t mention any people living there, making it clear that around 103 B.C. this tract was still uninhabited. He mentioned some islands near that area which were also uninhabited.[lxix] He has to walk very much more to the south of this region in order to find a small port. To the south of this port was a land inhabited by the so-called “Debae” people. There were Bedouins traveling in the area and a few farmers, but no cities were seen in that area. Artemidorus had to travel much further south to near the border of Yemen to find, as he said, “more civilized” people.[lxx] In other words, the tract of central western Arabia where Mecca was built later was still uninhabited as of 103 B.C. This tract is divided from Yemen by an area, which is inhabited only by uncivilized Bedouin tribes.
THE ROMANS EXPLORE WESTERN AND SOUTHERN ARABIA
The Roman Expedition into western and southern Arabia accurately described the villages which were built in the area of central western Arabia, but a city called Mecca was never mentioned.
Our history doesn’t end here. In the year 30 B.C., Egypt became a Roman province. The Romans then wanted to control the Arabian regions along the Red Sea, especially south of the city called Leuce Kome( known today as Haura’ الحوراء ) on the shore of the Arabian Red Sea. From there, through the central western shore, were places where savage tribes were acting as pirates and threatening sea navigation. The Romans also wanted to control Yemen and, subsequently, the spice trade coming from India through Yemen.
Rome trusted the military campaign to Gallus, the governor of Egypt. He was unsuccessful, but his campaign provides more historical accuracy for us. Gallus departed from the Egyptian shore of the Red Sea with 10,000 Roman soldiers, 1,000 Nabataean soldiers, and some other Roman allies in the region. The Nabataeans were ruled by the Roman Empire at that time, so they promised to help the Romans in this expedition as soldiers and guides. The Nabataeans were ideal as guides because part of northern Arabia along the Red Sea was under the Nabataean domain. Strabo, the famous geographer and historian, took part in the expedition and wrote about it in his 16th book. This gives to the expedition a special value in terms of geography; it is a highly-documented expedition, and not a narration of any kind.
The expedition had special importance for a geographer, because it was not the journey of a traveler who might have missed cities deeper inland. It was a military expedition, intended to control all the villages and cities which might threaten Roman trade within this strip of land. The Romans were very thorough and would not have missed a city. The Roman Expedition went through the strip of land which geographers used to explore along the Red Sea, which I defined previously as extending from the shore to at least 100 miles inland. The Romans wanted to subdue every village because of the continuing piracy which originated from central western Arabia. Therefore, no city or village was left alone in this military expedition.
The expedition arrived at Leuce Come, which means the “white village.” This village was part of the Nabataean territory at the time of the expedition. Strabo attested to the flourishing of the land route through this village to Petra, and from there to Egypt and Syria. This village is placed in the today map of Arabia at El Haura, 25 7 N., 37 13 E.[lxxi] Leuce Come is about 280 miles from the place where Mecca was later built. To the south of this village lay the central western part of Arabia along the Red Sea, which we previously saw was uninhabited in 103 B.C. But now, because the land route along the Red Sea had started to flourish, there had been a few villages built since 103 B.C., which Gallus occupied. These villages are mentioned in the narration of Strabo, who was an eyewitness to this important expedition.
After Leuce Come, Gallus marched to the south, through Nabataean-controlled lands. Strabo describes the nature of the region with these words:
Gallus moved his army from Leuce Come and marched through regions where water had to be carried by camels.
Gallus marched until he reached the desert assigned to Aretas, his kinsman, by King Obodas of Nabataean. We assume that Gallus was marching toward the village of Egra about 1,100 Greek stadia from Leuce Come (about 137 miles). Strabo described this part under Aretas, as follows:
It afforded only zea, a kind of coarse grain, a few palm trees and butter instead of oil.[lxxii]
It is a description of a deserted tract of land with few stations on the caravan route coming from the south. These stations are mainly Nabataean stations to protect and control the trade passing through this area.
Then Strabo described the next segment of the central-western Arabian campaign with these words:
The next country which Gallus traversed belongs to nomads and most of it was truly desert; and it was called Ararene, and he spent fifty days arriving at the city of Negrani.
That was a city of Najran on the border of Yemen about 385 miles south of Mecca, and about 125 miles from the shore of the Red Sea.We understand from the description of Strabo that the central western tract of Arabia along the Red Sea during the time of the expedition had few changes since the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. This region was described by previous geographers as uninhabited in its northern part, and inhabited by Bedouins in its southern part, until reaching the more-civilized people near Yemen. At least three of the stations which the Nabataeans had built on the caravan road became small villages, which were mentioned in this expedition. The situation was likely similar to that of the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C.
Gallus wanted to subdue the region to protect the trade from the piracy coming from this area. His plan was to occupy all the cities found in this dangerous tract, but he did not find any city until he reached Najran. This demonstrates that Mecca was not yet built in those times – that is, around 23 B.C. Gallus occupied Najran, then Asca (within Yemeni territory). Going south, he occupied a city called Athrula, then advanced toward Marsiaba (probably Ma’rib, the capital of Saba). He assaulted and besieged the city for six days, but desisted for want of water.He lost only seven soldiers in war against the Arabians of Najran and in the battles south of it. Most of the losses in his army came from lack of water and supplies, and disease.
If Mecca had existed at the time of the Roman Expedition, it would have been impossible to be missed by a weary army which needed a city in which to rest and replenish supplies.
The hardships of Gallus’ army were because of the huge distances, which existed between the small few villages in this tract of central Arabia where Mecca was built in later times. This caused many soldiers to die from a lack of water and supplies. The Romans accused Syllaeus of not helping them as a guide because the Romans accused him of choosing paths between the villages and cities that were longer than they should have been. This did not affect the plan of passing through all the villages which existed in the area, since the villages and cities were known by all contemporaries to the expedition, and confirmed by the inhabitants. In other words, each village or city knew the name of the next city or village which Gallus needed to visit on the way to Najran and the other cities of Yemen.
Since subduing all of central western Arabia was an important goal for the expedition, Gallus would not have missed a city like Mecca, if it had existed then.
Another thing to consider is that after Gallus failed to occupy the Yemeni city of Marsiaba, he replaced Syllaeus as a guide, and instead depended on native experts to return to Negrana and then to the Nabataean village of Leuce Come. Consequently, he made the return trip more quickly, passing through the few villages which were built on the caravan road where Mecca was eventually built. Strabo mentioned them by name, but never mentioned Mecca. Ultimately, Gallus withdrew from the war. The huge distances between the villages, which were built on this central Arabian tract, created a logistical travel problem for an army of more than 11,000. Gallus lost thousands of his soldiers because of lack of water and supplies.
The Roman historian, Dio Cassius, described the failure of the expedition in his book, The History of Rome. Here’s what he wrote:
At first Aelius Gallus encountered no one, yet he did not proceed without difficulty; for the desert, the sun, and the water (which had some peculiar nature) all caused his men great distress, so that the larger part of the army perished.[lxxiii]
This advances our argument. If Mecca had existed as a city, it would have been Gallus’ main goal to control it. No cities are described by any of the historians, except for the few villages I mentioned previously which were built on the caravan road. If Mecca had existed, it would have been an important place to rest, to replenish supplies and to prepare a person to traverse the rest of this terrible tract toward Najran and the other Yemeni cities. No one who planned to occupy a desert would abandon its main city. But that desert had no city in existence like Mecca; that is why the expedition had its hardships and problems with supplies.
What this ultimately shows us is that the claims of Islam which state that Mecca was a city that flourished during the time of Abraham, are unsubstantiated and false. All the records of the historians of the time show that Mecca was not in existence until the 4th century A.D., certainly not in the time of Abraham. If Islam is wrong on this key assertion, how can we trust it in other assertions?
MECCA WAS ABSENT FROM THE HISTORICAL TRAVELS AND WRITINGS OF STRABO.
The historian, Strabo, shows us clearly that the city of Mecca could not have existed during the time of Christ and, therefore, not when the Muslims claim.
We will continue to refute the Islamic claim that Mecca has existed since the time of Abraham. To this end we will now study the works of Strabo, a Greek geographer who lived between 64 B.C. and 23 A.D. In his geographical study, Strabo summarized the most important works written by geographers before him and reported writings done by his contemporaries. Among those whose work he referenced were: Artemidorus, Eratosthenes and Agatharcides.[lxxiv] I have mentioned these men in the past.
Athenodorus was a geographer who accompanied Strabo in some of his travels. In Strabo’s own words, he was “a philosopher and companion of mine who had been in the city of the Petraneans.”[lxxv] By “Petraneans” Strabo means the city of Petra, and he quotes some of Athenodorus’ writings about the city and its government. Strabo also passionately and accurately gives us a detailed survey of many regions of Arabia during his lifetime. He visited the region with other Greek historians, philosophers and geographers and described the region, relying on his own first-hand research and the observations of those who accompanied him in the region. I mentioned previously that as a geographer and historian, Strabo accompanied Gallus on the Roman Expedition. Strabo’s purpose was to personally verify information about the region which he had gathered from various sources. He discussed the goal of the expedition in these words:
Many of the special characteristics of Arabia have been disclosed by the recent expedition of the Romans against the Arabians, which was made in my own time under Aelius Gallus as commander. He was sent by Augustus Caesar to explore the tribes and the places.[lxxvi]
So we see that one of the aims of the expedition was to explore the “tribes and the places” of Arabia. Strabo mentioned Augustus Caesar’s particular interest in western Arabia when he said:
Caesar saw that the Troglodyte country, which adjoins Egypt, neighbors upon Arabia, and he saw also that the Arabian Gulf, which separates the Arabians from the Troglodytes, is extremely narrow. Accordingly, he conceived the purpose of winning the Arabians over to himself or of subjugating them.[lxxvii]
From this we see that one main goal of the Romans was the pacification of the northern and central regions of Arabia, which lay opposite to Troglodytes on the shore of the Red Sea and the regions around it. This is also where the city of Mecca was later built. Notice, also, that the control of this area was important to the security of the land trade, which was beginning to flourish around the start of the Christian era. Caesar, also, needed to protect the marine route from piracy which was coming from the Arabian regions adjoining the Red Sea.
Strabo’s work is important to my argument that Mecca did not come into existence until more than 2,000 years after Abraham lived. Although this region was documented thoroughly by Strabo’s participation in the Roman Expedition, Mecca was not mentioned at all. Though his survey quoted heavily the intensive research by other geographers, Mecca was not mentioned in all of this. Neither was any tribe mentioned that, according to Islamic tradition, was supposed to have lived in Mecca since the time of Abraham, nor was any temple found in that area. Strabo’s survey is also important because it verified the description given by other geographers who wrote about the tribes and places along the Red Sea, starting from the far north of Arabia and reaching south to Yemen.
Why doesn’t Strabo make any mention of Mecca or its temple? This cannot be accidental. If a tourist with far less interest in exploring a region had failed to mention the name of a main city, we might be able to consider this an accident. But when a geographer, who is entrusted to make a survey for a great empire like Rome, fails to mention a city like Mecca, there is no possibility that he accidentally missed it. Add to that all the geographers and experts who described the area, and didn’t mention once a city like Mecca, and you can reach only one conclusion: Mecca did not exist in about 23 B.C. when Strabo wrote his reports.
“THE PERIPLUS OF THE ERYTHRAEAN SEA”
“The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea” confirms Mecca didn’t exist during the end of the 1st century A.D.
I have mentioned Artemidorus, Eratosthenes and Agatharcides, as well as Strabo– none of whom acknowledged the existence of Mecca in their time, which was prior to Christ. Now I’d like to take you to another source. This time, to a book considered to be one of the most reliable historical documents on trade routes and the regions of Arabia. The book, written between 58- 62 A.D.[lxxviii] by an unnamed author, is The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. It was written by a resident in the city of Berenice, opposite to central Arabia, and located about 200-220 miles from the place where Mecca was later built.
The dating of the book is important to our study, and many external evidences attest to the dating. For example, Pliny copied some of the ideas of Periplus into his book, Natural History. Natural History was written between 72-76 A.D., so we can conclude that Periplus was written before that. Another important element in determining the date of Periplus is that the author, in Chapter 57, mentions the monsoon on the Indian Ocean, which Hippalus documented around 47 A.D. Because Hippalus noticed the periodic weather behavior, he was able to sail to India at just the right time, thus shortening the time required for a round-trip voyage to India. His discovery allowed trade with India to flourish.
The author of Periplus mentions the monsoon discovery, proving that the book was written after 47 A.D. Some other proofs more accurately determine that the book was even written a little later than that – somewhere between 60-62 A.D.
It is certain that the author of Periplus was a Greek merchant, and that he traveled the Arabian regions as far as India. We also assume that he lived in the city of Berenice on the Red Sea, opposite the Arabian ports of Leuce Come, and not in the larger city of Alexandria. How do we know this? Because the author didn’t describe the usual voyage as going from Coptos in the interior of Egypt, along the Nile, and through the Egyptian desert. Coptos later was known as Qift قفط. It was about 43 Kilometers from Luxor, near the city of Thebes. Both Strabo and Pliny describe this voyage, but the author of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea failed to describe it. This causes some scholars to assume that the writer lived in Berenice.
The city of Berenice is on the western coast of the Red Sea, opposite the Arabian ports of Leuce Come and Egra. We know that Egra is about 137 miles away from Leuce Come, and only 62 miles from the village of Malathan, which is the closest village to the place where Mecca was later built. This is important to us because the author lived on the African shore of the Red Sea, not too far from the tract of land on which Mecca was later built. Being very familiar with the central tract of Arabia where Mecca was built in later times, he wrote about the regions close to where he lived, making his book an extremely important document. We also know that the book was not written by a person who only visited the region, or made a survey during his lifetime, but by a person who knew in detail the cities and villages near the area where he actually lived.
The distance between the city in which he lived and the place where Mecca was built is between 200-250 miles. His knowledge of Mecca, if it had existed in his time, is analogous to a contemporary resident of Paris knowing about the city of Rome. Assuredly, the author would have known about the city if it had actually been there. The accuracy of Periplus is corroborated by many geographical and historical evidences. We find that descriptions in the book agree with descriptions in the later book which Pliny wrote describing the Arabian coasts.
Also, we find historical facts corresponding with those narrated by The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. For example, the author of the book, in chapter 19, mentioned Malichas as king of the Nabat-aeans. Josephus, the Jewish Roman historian, mentioned this king, under the name of Malchus, in more than one place.[lxxix] The author of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentioned Eleazus as a title of the king of Frankincense country, that is, Hadramuot.[lxxx] He also mentions Charibael as title for the king of two Yemeni tribes, the Himyarites and the Sabaeans.[lxxxi] This information is attested to be true by inscriptions discovered in southern Arabia by archaeologist Glaser.[lxxxii]
The author mentioned many other cities which were distant from the shore of the Red Sea. One example is Coloe, which he said is “a three days’ journey” from Adulis, a city on the African shore.[lxxxiii] The author mentioned many other cities which were similarly distant from the Red Sea. Therefore, not mentioning Mecca, which is only 30-40 miles from the Red Sea, is a significant matter. While the author mentioned many cities in the region which are of little importance, and are two or three times as far from shore as Mecca, the author still does not mention the city of Mecca at all. Think about it .The author of The Periplus of the Erythraean Seadescribed the regions adjacent to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, which were the western and southern regions of Arabia. He mentioned the names of kings, tribal chiefs, and cities distant from shore, but he did not mention Mecca. His report has significant importance because he is a resident in the city of Berenice, opposite to central Arabia, and a distance of about 200-220 miles from the place where Mecca was built in later times. As an expert merchant and geographer, which his book clearly shows, it cannot be attributed to him to be ignorant of the cities close to his home when he described the Red Sea coastal regions. In fact, if he did succeed in describing with such accuracy the cities, tribes and trade as far as India, how, then, could he be ignorant of a city such as Mecca, which would be only 200–220 miles from his home? The fact is that he does not mention Mecca because, in his time, Mecca did not exist.
Pliny‘s Survey covered all of Arabia, mentioning all the cities, villages and tribes of Arabia, but he never mentioned Mecca, or any tribe which the Islamic tradition claims inhabited Mecca since ancient times.
Previously, we looked at an important military campaign during the time of Caesar. The Roman geographer and historian, Strabo, documented the campaign, but nowhere did he mention the city of Mecca. This causes us to conclude that Mecca had not been built during the time he lived, which was 64-23 B.C.
We move ahead in history to another important Roman author. We know him as Pliny, the Elder. Pliny was born at Como, in northern Italy, in 23 A.D. He became a commander of a Roman cavalry squadron, studied the law, became the Procurator – the financial manager – in Spain, then returned to Rome and became part of the Emperor’s intimate inner circle.[lxxxiv] This gave him access to the Roman documents, especially about the expedition into Arabia under Gallus, which Pliny mentioned in his work. He then received a naval commission. He died in 79 A.D.
Pliny completed his book, Natural History, in 77 A.D. It is his most important contribution to the knowledge we have about Roman life and times. It is an encyclopedia covering a wide variety of subjects, including: geography, astronomy, botany, zoology, meteorology and mineralogy. In the preface to this book, Pliny writes that he deals with 20,000 matters selected from 100 different authors. One of the authors Pliny consulted was Juba, a king in Mauritania, who did a survey of Arabia, documenting various locations and tribes in Arabia.
Pliny, in Natural History, Book Five, chapter 12, deals with “the coasts of Arabia, situated on the Egyptian sea.” Then, in the book six, in the lengthy chapters 32 and 33, he focuses with detail on Arabia. The work of Pliny is considered a true encyclopedia. He mentioned approximately 92 nations and tribes in Arabia. Though he mentioned the least and most insignificant tribes of Arabia which existed in his lifetime, he does not mention any of the tribes which the Islamic tradition claims lived in Mecca during the first centuries after Christ. Although he mentioned 69 cities and villages in Arabia at this time, including villages of insignificant tribes, he did not mention Mecca. This adds to all other documented proofs that the Islamic claims regarding Mecca are unhistorical and without any foundation.
Pliny’s survey has significant value, because he covered all the regions of Arabia. The survey starts in the far north, proceeds to the eastern gulf region, then proceeds south until it reaches the southeastern corner of Arabia. He goes west to the Red Sea, then north to the Gulf of Aqaba, and finally returns by proceeding south, all the while describing the interior land of Arabia. It is easy to see that the survey didn’t overlook any area of Arabia which was inhabited at that time. Pliny was so detailed that he mentioned tribes which inhabited the desert, called the An-Nafud Desert today, such as the tribe of the Agraei, but still he didn’t mention Mecca or any tribe living in the area where Mecca eventually was built.
Considering that Pliny’s research covered all regions of Arabia, it is significant that there is a total absence in Pliny’s work of any mention of any of the tribes, which were claimed by the Islamic tradition to have existed, and which had an important role in the affairs of Arabia. I firmly believe that the absence of such tribes confirms that Islamic tradition wanted to back the Qur’an in its false claim concerning Mecca. Consequently, the Muslims created false names of tribes, and a false history which doesn’t correspond with the true documented history of men like Pliny, Artemidorus, Agatharchides and Strabo.One of the tribes that the Muslims created an imaginary history about is Jurhum. The Islamic narrators, such as Ubeid bin Sharayyah and ibn Abbass, claimed that the people of Jurhum had lived in Mecca since the time of Abraham. This assumes Ishmaelite tribes lived at Mecca since that date as well. For a period of time, they say the Ishmaelites also dominated Arabia. If these claims were true, Jurhum would have been superior to the documented nations of Arabia, such as Saba and Main. Then archeology and the trips made by classical geographers and historians would show the existence of the Ishmaelite tribes at Mecca and would have confirmed the historical facts.But neither Greek nor Roman historical or archaeological records mention or even allude to a tribe named Jurhum. They don’t even mention that Ishmaelite tribes ever lived in the area where Mecca was eventually built,even though archaeology over many centuries B.C. had uncovered many nations and tribes who lived north and south to the area where Mecca was later built. Jurhum might have been an insignificant tribe which appeared only after the Christian era.
Pliny’s survey helps us to see that the Islamic claim regarding Adnan is false. Islamic genealogists claim that Adnan was the father of Maed who was the 20th ancestor of Mohammed. They also claim the Adnanites inhabited Hijaz. The Adnanites were perceived by Muslims as a great tribe which descended from Ishmael, and they dominated all the regions of Hijaz. However, we do not see in the Pliny’s survey any mention of Adnanites, nor the name of any tribe the Islamic writers claimed the Adnanites descended from. This is covered in more detail in our research on the Adnanites. All this proves incisively that Muslims have forged a false history. Archaeology, surveys of classical geography and historical studies convince us that the Islamic claim was entirely false.
Pliny, along with his Greek predecessors, demonstrates clearly that the history of Mecca is completely untrue and not historical. It wasn’t until the time of Ubeid bin Sharayah and Ibn Abbass that Islamic writers began to forge an ancient history for Mecca. We already saw the ignorance of people such as Ubeid and Ibn Abbass. We saw that their forgery was mythological, not built on documented material. Of course, the work of both Pliny and the Greeks shows that these claims can’t be substantiated.
Pliny’s survey, when combined with other Greek and Roman surveys, didn’t mention Khuzaa’h, confirms the fact that, Khuzaa’h, the tribe which first built Mecca, did not yet exist in the 1st century A.D. in the region where Mecca was eventually built. This is a further confirmation that this tribe appeared and emigrated from Yemen in later times, and built Mecca some time after they emigrated from Yemen. Certainly Khuzaa’h was then a very small tribe. Perhaps it had not separated from its mother tribe in Yemen. Khuzaa’h must have come from Yemen sometime after the second century A.D., after the dam of Maarib was damaged. Sometime during the Fourth Century A.D, the tribe moved near the land route and built Mecca to enhance its trade.
Early Islamic narrators and their ignorance of basic historical facts
Previously, I mentioned the names of persons who first attempted to assign names to the tribes living in Mecca, and to create a history for Quraish. Among those men were Ubeid bin Sharayeh, ibn Abbass, Mohammed bin al Kalbi and his son Hisham, Wahab bin Munebbeh and ibn Ishack.
I also mentioned the ignorance of these persons, their limited knowledge of history, and their confused chronology. In spite of this, the Muslims still follow these men’s writings today, although they showed ignorance in their narration about history and lack of any historical basis for their writings. The writings of these persons, who wrote in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries A.D., became the foundation on which other Muslim historians built a history for Muslims to read instead of the officially documented history.
According to Ibn Ishak, Christianity originated in Rome through a Roman emperor who was converted to Christianity by the twelve disciples of Christ. Ibn Ishak thought that the Roman emperor, Constantine, who lived in the 4th century A.D., was a contemporary of Jesus.[lxxxv] We know that these claims about Christianity, Constantine and Jesus are not true.
The writings of early Islamic narrators are full of enormous mistakes and myths which less-informed and ignorant elementary students would not make. How can he be considered a reliable historian for Muslims when they write mythological narratives which disagree with documented history? And they did all this in order to convince people that Ishmael lived in Mecca and built the temple with Abraham’s help! Sadly, these untrustworthy persons became the fathers of a false history which has kept many Muslims from reading true and documented history. They have also kept many Muslims from reading the Bible, a dependable source for understanding ancient history.
It is time for Muslims to think for themselves, to go beyond false claims, and to challenge what they have believed for years. Once they find the truth about Islam, they will also find the truth about Jesus Christ, the One who died as the sacrifice for sin, and the only way to heaven.
The Greek geographer, Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria, Egypt, was born in the year 90 A.D. and died in 168 A.D. He wrote Almonagest, a chief astronomical work, and another work about astrology called Tetrabilos. Around the year 150 A.D., he dedicated himself to the study of the earth’s geography – more specifically, cartographical representation, or mapping of the earth. He was inspired by the work of several other geographers who lived before him, including Marinus, who lived from 70-130 A.D. These geographers pioneered the concept of latitude and longitude lines for world maps. Ptolemy enhanced the concept of the latitudes and longitudes. Ptolemy reduced the latitude and longitude that Marinus has established before.[lxxxvi] Ptolemy tried to document in his geographical work, simply called Geography, the latitude and longitude coordinates, also called meridians lines, for the important locations marked on the maps of his time. Most scholars doubt that the maps which included his latitude and longitude coordinates were actually drawn by him. But they do believe that other geographers used his information when making their maps.[lxxxvii]
Ptolemy’s geography provides valuable help in locating places that existed in his time, but we should consider some disclaimers which he mentions in his work. In his second book, Ptolemy mentions that the locations of some of the places or cities that were documented more recently, with respect to his time, are actually estimated regarding their proximity to more established places or cities.[lxxxviii] When compared to the latitude and longitude system we use today, his system seems crude and inaccurate. Yet, it is still helpful to know about the recently-discovered places which didn’t appear in previous geographical surveys. We can establish where newer cities are located in relation to older ones. It’s helpful to know whether the cities in question are south or north of an old city, or whether they are east or west.
From a practical standpoint, Ptolomy’s criteria proves valuable when looking for other cities in the Middle East mentioned by him, or even by those in his own country, Egypt. Based on these facts, his work helps us resolve the location problem for some cities, such as Macoraba, which appeared in his generation.
In book six, chapter seven, of his work titled Geography, Ptolemy documents the latitude and longitude coordinates of several landmarks in Arabia.[lxxxix] By studying these locations and coordinates, we notice once again that the city of Mecca is never mentioned. In fact, Ptolomy doesn’t mention any cities in the strip of land where Mecca was eventually built.
Macoraba was a city in the Arabian interior which was mentioned by Ptolemy. Some people wanted to assume that Macoraba was actually Mecca. Macoraba had appeared recently, with respect to Ptolemy’s time. This assumption would result in the conclusion that Mecca was built around the middle of the 2nd century A.D. However, even if this were true, it wouldn’t support the claim that Mecca was an old city existing from the time of Abraham. Upon further study of the facts concerning Macoraba, we can conclude with certainty that Macoraba cannot be Mecca, and we can refute the idea that Mecca was built in the 2nd century A.D. All the facts point to the historical argument that Mecca was constructed in the 4th century A.D. Since Macoraba is not pronounced like Mecca, the scholar Crone suggested that the location of Maqarib, near Yathrib, was actually Macoraba. Maqarib is mentioned by Yaqut al-Hamawi, an Arab geographer who lived from 1179-1229 A.D., in his geographical dictionary Mujam al-Buldan.[xc] This location is more acceptable than Mecca for the modern-day location of Macoraba, because Maqarib is closer in pronunciation to Macoraba than to Mecca. Another reason is that Maqarib, though it does not exactly fit the documented location of Macoraba, is closer to the location, according to the latitude and longitude of Ptolemy, than Mecca is to the documented location of Macoraba.
In order to determine the exact location of Macoraba, scholars have looked to the city of Lathrippa, mentioned by Ptolemy at a longitude of 71, as a reference. Lathrippa is accepted by most scholars as the city of Yathrib, a city documented in the historical record. Ptolemy placed the city of Macoraba at 73 20 longitude, which means about three-and-a-third degrees east of Yathrib, while Mecca is west of Yathrib. So Macoraba cannot be the city of Mecca, nor a city in the direction where Mecca was later built. Macoraba should be located deeper into the interior of Arabia, or toward the eastern coast of Arabia.
We have just analyzed the longitude; now let’s turn to the latitude. When we study latitude we find more data concerning the historical location of Macoraba. Ptolemy described Macoraba, not as the next city south of Lathrippa, or Yathrib, but the sixth city to the south. While the city of Carna is the first city to the south of Lathrippa, Macoraba is the sixth city to the south. Carna was a well-known Yemeni city, belonging to the Minaean kingdom mentioned by Strabo. This is significant, because Strabo described the main tribes of southern Arabia in these words:
The extreme part of the country is occupied by the four largest tribes; by the Minaeans … whose largest city is Carna; next to these, by the Sabaeans, whose metropolis is Mariaba; third by the Cattabanians, whose royal seat is called Tamna; and the farthest toward the east, the Chatramotitae, meaning Hadramout, whose city is Sabata.[xci]
In the past, Carna was known as the most important, and the largest city of the Yemen Kingdom of Ma’in. Carna was a significant city of Arabia which Ptolemy couldn’t miss. Because Macoraba was listed as the fifth city south of Carna, we understand Ptolemy used Carna as a reference point for the five cities he listed south of Carna, included Macoraba. We can’t make Lathrippa a reference point for locating Macoraba, since Lathrippa is farther north of Macoraba, but Macoraba’s location is south of the famous old Minaean city of Carna. We can only conclude that by latitude, Macoraba is in south Arabia, south of the Yemeni city of Carna.
Considering where Ptolemy placed the longitude of Macoraba it is a great distance from where Mecca was later built. Its longitude would bring it east of Yathrib. In fact, Pliny mentions a city with the name Mochorba, and he said it was a port of Oman on the Hadramout shore in South Arabia. It’s also possible that Macoraba is derived from Mochorba.[xcii]
Since Macoraba never appears in any literature other than the narration of Ptolemy, it must have been a small settlement or tiny village which disappeared in Ptolomy’s time during the 2nd century A.D. Probably a small Omani tribe emigrated from the port of Mochorba toward the north of Yemen, south of Carna, the old Minaean city of Yemen, and established a small settlement which they named after their original city. The tribe would then have moved to another area in search of better living conditions, a usual migratory occurrence in Arabia. The fact that Macoraba never appears again in any other classical survey confirms the fact that it was a small provisional settlement of a small tribe, and not a significant town.
If a case for the name of Machorba should be opened, it should be seen in relation to the southern Arabian city of Mochorba, and not to Mecca. In the same manner, we see the city of New London in the United States as being named after the original city of London. We can’t open a case for the origin of the name of the American city apart from the English city after which it was named.
THE ABSENCE OF MECCA IN THE ETHIOPIAN, SYRIAN, ARAMAIC AND COPTIC LITERATURE
The absence of Mecca in the Ethiopian, Syrian, Aramaic and Coptic literature points to the fact that it couldn’t have been founded during the 3rd century A.D.
Let’s look at Ethiopian literature. The Ethiopians were also concerned with documenting Arabian cities on the opposite coast of the Red Sea, especially in the area where Mecca was eventually built. Again, we see that there is no mention of Mecca in their surveys. Neither do we find any mention of Mecca during the 2nd, 3rd or 4th century A.D. This also demonstrates that Mecca did not exist at the time of Ptolemy; we have to place its origin at a later date.
That Mecca was not built before the 2nd A.D. century is an indisputable fact. The question now is whether we can determine if Mecca was built in the 3rd or 4th century A.D. The absence of records in Syrian, Aramaic and Coptic literature makes the dates for the existence of Mecca later than the 3rd century A.D. Crone, whom I mentioned earlier, did a survey of the Coptic and Syrian literature which was concerned with Arabia, but none of these works mentioned Mecca.[xciii]
We also have other reasons to assume that the date for Mecca’s founding was after the beginning of the 4th century A.D. We find some help in Christian evangelistic and missionary activities in Arabia and Christian literature. They do not mention Mecca, either.
We also know that the Christians under the Byzantine Empire tried to evangelize Arabia. The Byzantine emperor targeted the main cities of Arabia and sent missionaries to evangelize and establish churches. This evangelism was so successful that, at the Nicea Convention around 320 A.D., an Arabic bishop participated.[xciv] The church in Najran, a city on the border of Yemen toward Mecca, was established before the Nicea Convention. In 354 A.D., Constantine the Second sent Theophilus Indus to Arabia to evangelize the region. He established churches in Eden, Thafar and Hermez. The Ethiopians sent missionaries to Arabia to evangelize the cities around the Red Sea. The Nestorians sent missionaries to Hijaz; into northern and central western Arabia where Mecca was eventually built. Arabia was also the main target of missionary activity for the church of Hira in southern Iraq.
It is significant that we don’t find any mention of Mecca in all the Christian records of this time. This suggests that Mecca did not exist in the 3rd century A.D., or at the beginning of the 4th century. Because it was inhabited by many tribes, and built by a big tribe, like Khuzaa’h, Mecca could not be a small village which would not have attracted the attention of the missionaries and the Christian churches of Mesopotamia, Ethiopia and Byzantium.
Once again, we see the writers of history confirming our research which shows that Mecca was built long after Muslims claim it was. This simple truth should challenge Muslims to take a fresh look at the teachings of the Bible and seek after the truth, which Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”( Gospel of John 8:32)
Fig. 3 Central Western Arabia as it appeared in 1945 taken from “Western Arabia and the Red Sea,” prepared by the Naval Division, Great Britain.
Fig. 4 The cities occupied by Nabonidus, king of Babylonia, during his 10 years’ sojourn in north and central western Arabia, but Mecca is missing in his records
 Many of the reports upon which Eratosthenes based his map were lost, but much of the contents survive in the fragments of Agatharchides’ work “On the Erythraean Sea,” Burstein, page 12
 Many passages in On the Erythraean Sea clearly point to the fact that Agatharchides consulted eyewitness merchants and others who visited the region. See especially fragment 41.
 Although the book of Agatharchides is no longer in existence, it has been preserved through the synopsis of the classical authors Photius, Diodorus and Strabo. We find a good summary of the 5th book of Agatharchides in the work of Diodorus Library of History, chapters 12-48. The summary of Photius in his work Bibliotheca, especially Codex 250, is very important.
 The geographical book Western Arabia and the Red Sea, specifies the area of Wadi al- ‘efal in the following area adjacent to the Gulf of Aqaba: “East of the Gulf of Aqaba two important watersheds lie, roughly parallel to one another and to the gulf; immediately behind the coastal lowlands the Ridge of al-Farwa separates the Wadis, which cut westward through the coastal ridge to the gulf, from those which drain southward to the Red Sea east of Ras Fartak. The chief of the latter wadis is Wadi al-Abyadh which, in its lower reaches, broadens and is called Wadi Efal- behind to be the plain inhabited by the Bythemani- Bythemaneas-….”; Western Arabia and the Red Sea, Naval Intelligence Division, Geographical Handbook Series, 1946, page 40; see also footnote 3
 Nonnosuswas an ambassador to Justinian the Great, the Byzantine Emperor, who lived in the 6th century A. D. He made a journey to western Arabia, Yemen, and Axum (a kingdom that flourished in the land that became known as Ethiopia). Nonnosuswrote a book describing his own voyages and the Arab cultures he encountered. His book survived in the writings of Photius of Constantinople.
 Arabia Petraea, or Provincia Arabia , was a Roman province. It was called so in the beginning of the second century; when Trajan annexed the Nabataean lands, which consisted of Trans-Jordan, southern Syria, the Sinai and Aqaba Gulf area.
 Regarding the expedition of Gallus; He returned to Negrana in nine days after he failed to occupy Marsiaba in Saba. Negrana is Najran, about 650 kilometers south of Mecca. On the 11th day he reached a village called Hepta phreata, then he went to another village named Chaalla, then on to another village named Malotha which, most probiblay, was Malothan located close to the actual city of Jadda, which is about 30 miles from Mecca. But between Malotha or Malothan and Egra (north of where Mecca was later built) there were no villages mentioned by Strabo who accompagned the expedition. Gallus badly needed urgent supplies of water and food, but he could not find villages which could give him rest, and re-supply his troops in the area where Mecca was eventually built. See The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI. 4 . 24
 Scholars agree that Pliny wrote his Natural History after the compilation of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, because Pliny seems to include many elements in the description of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea of Arabia Felix. It is known that Pliny accomplished his work Natural History between 72-76 A.D.
[i] Strabo, Geography, xv.1:4
[ii] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 19: 4 and 5
[iii] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 19: 6
[iv] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 20: 2
[v] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 20:6 and 7
[vii] Strabo, book 16, 3:1
[viii] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 20: 7, 8
[ix] Arrian, Anabasis, book vii, chapter 20: 10
[x] Himanshu Prabha Ray, The archaeology of seafaring in ancient South Asia, Press of the University of Cambridge, 2003, page 170
[xi] Stanley M. Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, On The Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society, London, 1989, page 3
[xii] Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989, page 160
[xiii] Stanley M. Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, On The Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society, London, 1989, page 31
[xiv] There are fragments of the book of Pythagoras, kept by Aelian, NA 17.8-9 and Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 4 .183-4; citation of Burstein
[xv] Strabo wrote: “Eratosthenes takes all these as matters actually established by the testimony of the men who had been in the regions, for he has read many historical treatises – with which he was supplied if he had a library as large as Hipparchus says it was – he means the Library of Alexandria” Strabo, Geography, book 2. 1:5
[xvi] Stanley Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989, page 30
[xvii] Stanley Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989 , page 3
[xviii] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4:4
The Geography of Strabo, Volume VII, Harvard University Press, 1966, page 313
[xix] See C. Muller, Geographi Graeci Minores, Paris, 1855-1861, I,LIV-L,VIII; quoted by Burstein,page 13
[xx] Fraser, P.M., Ptolemaic Alexandria, Oxford, 1972, I, 549; cf. Peremans, W., Diodore de Sicile et Agatharchide de Cnide’, Historia xvi, 1967, pp. 443-4; cited by Burstein, page 30
[xxi] From Book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 147-fragment 87
[xxii] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Diodorus, Library of History, cited by Burstein, page 79-fragment 40b
[xxiii] Peremans, W., Diodore de Sicile et Agatharchide de Cnide’, pp. 447-55, cited by Burstein, page 32
[xxiv] Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989, page 160
[xxv] There are fragments of the book of Pythagoras, kept by Aelian, NA 17.8-9 and Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 4 .183-4; citation of Burstein
[xxvi] Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989 , page 36
[xxvii] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 169-fragment 105a
[xxviii] See Burstein’s study, footnotes, page 33
[xxix] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 148-fragment 87a
[xxx] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Diodorus, Library of History, cited by Burstein, page 153-fragment 92b
[xxxi] Musil, page 303
[xxxii] Wilfred Schoff, The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd., 1995, page 54
[xxxiii] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 150-155-fragment 90 a- 95a ; from book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Diodorus, Library of History, cited by Burstein, page 150-155 –fragment 91b-93b
[xxxiv] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea,, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 155-fragment 95a
[xxxv] cf.Woelk, p. 223; cited by Burstein, page 155
[xxxvi] Nonnosus cited by Photius, Bibliotheca, 1,5
[xxxvii] Forster, The Historical Geography of Arabia, I, page 20
[xxxix]Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, volume 2, Part 1, Dumbarton Oaks, 1995, page 126
[xl] Procopius, History of the Wars, book I, xix. 7-16
[xli] Procopius, History of the Wars, book I, xix. 7-16
[xlii]W.Wright, Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum ( London, 1871), part II, page 468; cited by Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, volume 2, Part 1, Dumbarton Oaks, 2002, page 29
[xliii]cited by Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, volume 2, Part 1, Dumbarton Oaks, 2002, pages 29 and 46
[xliv]Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, volume 2, Part 1, Dumbarton Oaks, 1995, page 125
[xlv] Irfan Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, volume 2, Part 1, Dumbarton Oaks, 1995, page 127
[xlvi] Al Waqidi, Al Maghazi, part ii, page 355
[xlvii] Al Waqidi, Al Maghazi, part ii, page 369
[xlviii] Procopius, History of the Wars, book II, xvi. 18-19
[xlix] Nonnosus cited by Photius, Bibliotheca, 1,5
[l] Crone, page 197
[li] Al Suheili, Al Ruth al Unf, I, page 423
[lii] Noted by Wellhausen, Reste, p.92, cited by Crone, page 197
[liii] Ibn Abbas in Tabari, Jami’, xxx,171, cited by Crone, page 205
[liv] Nonnosus cited by Photius, Bibliotheque, 1,5
[lv]W. M. Watt, Mohammed at Mecca, page 3
[lvi] Rasael al Jaheth, page 70; Al Thaalibi, Thimar al Qulub, page 115
[lvii] Al Zubeidi, Taj al Aruss, I, page 258
[lviii] Jawad Ali, al Mufassal Fi Tarikh al Arab Qabl al Islam, part 7, page 294
[lix] Al Asfahani, Al Aghani, 8, 50
[lx] Al Azruqi, Akhbar Mecca, pages 66, 67 and 69
[lxi] Sidney Smith, Babylonian Historical Texts, London 1924, Chapter III, page 27-97; Dougherty, Nab. And Bel., pages 105-11; cited by F.V.Winnett and W.L.Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page 89
[lxii] C.J.Gadd, The Harran Inscriptions of Nabonidus, ( Anatolian Studies, 8 (1958), page 59 ; cited by F.V.Winnett and W.L.Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page91
[lxiii] From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption from Photius, Bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 152-fragment 92a
[lxiv] cf Woelk, p.223; quoted by Stanley Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989, page 155
[lxv] H.Von Wissmann, Zaabram’, Pauly’s Realencyclopadie der Klassischen Altertumswissenschaft ( Stuttgart, 1894-1980) supp., XI (1968) col.1310 ; cited by Stanley Burstein, Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989 , page 155
[lxvi] Western Arabia and the Red Sea, 1946, Naval Intelligence Division, page 585.
[lxvii] See Stanley Burstein on his introduction to “Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea,” The Hakluyt Society, London, 1989, page 13
[lxviii] Leopoldi, Helmuthus, De Agatharchide Cnidio (Diss.Rostow, 1892) pp.13-17 ; cited by Burstein, page 39.
Strabo made abridgement of Agatharchides’s book, adding material from the lost book of Artemidorus. The work which Artemidorus developed, especially about Arabia, is contained in Strabo’s chapters, especially 16.4.5-20. See
Bunbury, E.H. A History of Ancient Geography, 2nd ed. (London 1883), pages 61-69; Burstein, page 38
[lxix] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.18
The Geography of Strabo, Volume VII, Harvard University Press, (London, 1966), page 343
[lxx] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.18
The Geography of Strabo, Volume VII, Harvard University Press, ( London, 1966), page345
[lxxi] Wilfred Schoff on his comment on The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd. ( New Delhi, 1995), page 101
[lxxii] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI. 4 . 24
[lxxiii] Dio Cassius: History of Rome, Book LIII. xxix.3-8.
[lxxiv] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.20
The Geography of Strabo, Volume VII, Harvard University Press (London, 1966), page 349
[lxxv] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.2
[lxxvi] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.22
[lxxvii] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI .4.22
[lxxviii] Wilfred Schoff on his introduction to The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd.(New Delhi, 1995), pages 14,15
[lxxix] Among the places where Josephus mentions Malchus are in “The Wars of the Jews,” Book 1, chapter 14 and “The Antiquities of the Jews,” Book 14, chapter 14.
[lxxx] The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, section 27
[lxxxi] The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, section 23
[lxxxii] Inscription No. 1619 by Glaser, cited by Wilfred Schoff, page 11
[lxxxiii] The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, section 4
[lxxxiv] H.Rackham, Introduction to Pliny, Natural History, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, William Heinemann Ltd. (London, 1979), page vii
[lxxxv]Tarikh al-Tabari, first volume, page 355
[lxxxvi] Josephi Fischer S.J., Commentatio de CL. Ptolemaci vita, operibus, influxu sacculari, pages 65-79 (in his introduction to Vatican publication of Ptolemy: Claudii Ptolemaci Geographiac Urbinas Codex graccus 82 phototypice depictus); the same mentioned by Josephi Fischer in his introduction to Claudius Ptolemy The Geography, translated by Edward Luther Stevenson, Dover Publications, INC, (New York, 1991, page 7
[lxxxvii]Josephi Fischer in his introduction to Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography , translated by Edward Luther Stevenson, Dover Publications , INC, (New York, 1991), page 5
[lxxxviii] Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography, Book II, Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography, translated by Edward Luther Stevenson, Dover Publications , New York, 1991, page 47
[lxxxix] Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography, book VI chapter VI, Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography, translated by Edward Luther Stevenson, Dover Publications , New York, 1991, page 137-138
[xc] Yaqut al-Hamawi, Mujam al-Buldan, iv, 587; quoted by Patricia Crone, Meccan Trade, Princeton University Press, 1987, page 136
[xci] ) The Geogrophy of Strabo, Book 16, chapter iv, 2 (The Geogrophy of Strabo, volume vii, translated by Horace L. Jones , 1966, page 311)
[xcii] Natural History of Pliny; Book VI, chapter 32
[xciii] Patricia Crone, Meccan Trade, Princeton University Press, 1987, pages 134,135
[xciv]Nallino Carlo Alfonso , Raccolta di Scritti editti E ineditti, Roma, Istituto per l’Oriente, 1939-48 , Vol.III, page 122 ; Caetani, Annali Dell’ Islam, I, (1907), page 125