Berenike Archaeological Project

Berenike, on the Red Sea coast, was a Hellenistic-Roman (3rd century BC – 6th century AD) port through which passed peoples, products and ideas linking Europe, Africa and Asia together for about eight centuries. Originally founded to acquire war elephants for the Ptolemies, the port became a central trading post where ships filled with goods from South Arabia and India arrived. Extensive research in the area of the southern harbor has uncovered a workshop building, remains of ship boards, ropes, and mooring lines. The archaeological excavations have uncovered remains of luxury goods, precious glass, bronze figurines, ostraca, and papyri. One of the most interesting discoveries from this period is a cemetery of dogs, cats, and monkeys – clearly a pet cemetery. Recent activity has focused on the central Isis temple, a Hellenistic bath, and the tombs of Blemmyes. Buddha sculptures, a Sanskrit inscription, Meroitic statuary, Egyptian temple architecture, and Roman dedications have revealed the diverse populations that used the harbor for centuries.

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