Land of Punt

From Academic Kids

The ancient dynastic Egyptians claimed The Land of Punt as their place of origin. Called "Ta Nteru," meaning "Land of the Gods", Punt was a fabled and exotic site of trade for ancient Egypt, China and Arabia.



The oldest known expedition to Punt was organized by Pharaoh Sahure of the Fifth Dynasty (25th century BCE). Around 1950 BCE, in the reign of Mentuhotep III, an officer named Hennu made one or more voyages to Punt. A very famous expedition was conducted by Nehsi for Queen Hatshepsut in the 15th century BCE to obtain myrrh; a report of that voyage survives on a relief in Hatshepsut's funerary temple at Deir el-Bahri. Several of her successors, including Thutmoses III, also organized expeditions to Punt.

Punt's Location

Ancient Egyptian texts are consistent about connecting the location of Punt with the Red Sea, narrowing the possibilities for Punt's geographic location. These records indicate Punt's location to be found south of Nubia, but exactly what modern territory it corresponds to is disputed.

Historians generally agree on eastern Africa, possibly near what is now the southern coast of Sudan or Eritrea (as is suggested by archaeological evidence), or perhaps as far away as Somalia, though this latter view is now regarded by Egyptologists as being questionable. In his translation of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, G.W.B. Huntingford went so far as to claim that the name "Punt" lay behind the name of "Opone," a coastal marketplace located south of Cape Guardafui, and identified both Punt and Opone with Hafun. In the late 1990s part of Somalia declared itself the independent republic of Puntland. It was once thought that the frankincense and other goods the ancient Egyptians boasted of obtaining in Punt suggest a location on the southern coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, but the presence of African animals rules this notion out, as well as the realisation that incense-producing trees also occur in Africa. In the past, places still farther afield have been mentioned (Mozambique, Bahrain, India), but currently these candidates have largely been dropped in favor of ones located near by in Africa.

Some researchers have even suggested a connection with the later Phoenicians, based on similarity of the word "Put," but the latter word clearly refers to neither Punt nor Phoenicia (see the article on "Phut"). This is no longer a mainstream view.


  • Bradbury, Louise. 1988. "Reflections on Travelling to 'God's Land' and Punt in the Middle Kingdom." Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 25:127–156.
  • Fattovich, Rodolfo. 1991. "The Problem of Punt in the Light of the Recent Field Work in the Eastern Sudan". In Akten des vierten internationalen Ägyptologen Kongresses, München 1985, edited by Sylvia Schoske. Vol. 4 of 4 vols. Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag. 257–272
  • ———. 1993. "Punt: The Archaeological Perspective". In Sesto congresso internazionale de egittologia: Atti, edited by Gian Maria Zaccone, and Tomaso Ricardi di Netro. Vol. 2 of 2 vols. Torino: Italgas. 399–405
  • Herzog, Rolf. 1968. Punt. Abhandlungen des Deutsches Archäologischen Instituts Kairo, Ägyptische Reihe 6. Glückstadt: Verlag J. J. Augustin
  • Kitchen, Kenneth Anderson. 1971. "Punt and How to Get There." Orientalia 40 (new series):184–207.
  • ———. 1993. "The Land of Punt". In The Archaeology of Africa: Foods, Metals, Towns, edited by Thurston Shaw, Paul Sinclair, Bassey Andah, and Alex Okpoko. One World Archaeology 20. London and New York: Routledge. 587–608
  • Meeks, Dimitri. 2003. "Locating Punt". In Mysterious Lands, edited by David B. O'Connor, and Stephen G. J. Quirke. Encounters with Ancient Egypt 5. London: Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and University College London Press. 53–80. ISBN 1-84472-004-7
  • Paice, Patricia. 1992. "The Punt Relief, the Pithom Stela, and the Periplus of the Erythean Sea". In Contacts Between Cultures: Selected Papers from the 33rd International Congress of Asian and North African Studies, Toronto, August 15–25, 1990. Volume 1: West Asia and North Africa, edited by Amir Harrak. Lewiston, Queenston, and Lampeter: The Edwin Mellon Press. 227–235

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