National Geographic : 1941 Oct
A Sea Voyage to a Remote Land TIN THE 8th year of the reign of Thut-mose III a fleet of 1 five sailing ships, each about sixty feet in length, un moored from the bank at Thebes and stood out into the middle of the Nile, headed for the distant and half-legendary land of Punt. Dispatched by Queen Hat-shepsuit, the expedition was to bring back to Egypt living myrrh trees, to be replanted in the garden of the state god, Amun. Punt, it is generally agreed, was situated somewhere along the coast of Somaliland. To reach it HIat-shepsuit's ships had to sail northward almost as far as modern Suez, cross over by canal into the Red Sea, and then undertake the long and rarely attempted voyage southward. It is greatly to the credit of the queen's unnamed admiral that the fleet returned safely to Thebes in the following year. It had brought back, in addition to the potted myrrh trees, rich cargoes of ebony, ivory, gold, electrum, aromatic woods, cosmetics, and panther skins, not to mention apes, dogs, and natives of Punt. The land of Puint and the entire progress of the expedi tion are pictured and described in detail in a set of painted reliefs, which, most happily, are preserved in Hat-shepsuit's temple at Deir el-Bahri at Thebes (page 490). Our plate on page 488, drawn in its entirety from these reliefs, portrays the arrival of the fleet at Puint. The flag- ship has already touched shore, itssailisfurled, and its mooring stake is being driven into thesand ofthebeach by two muscular members ofthe crew. The Egyptian admiral, accompanied byadetachment of marines, has landed and is about toingratiate himself with the natives by means of amodest present ofEgyptian weapons and cheap trinkets.These hehaslaid outonthe small table before him, hoping that their glittering appear ance will please those who have come tomeet him. Pe(-rel-hu, the tall, thin chief ofPunt, and Elty, hisfat, sway-backed wife, were toostriking apair tohave been overlooked by the Egyptianartist, who evidently accom panied the expedition, and inthe temple reliefs referred to they are depicted to the life. These reliefs have, in fact, supplied uswith nearly every detail of our painting: the Egyptian ships, their rigging, and their crews; the curious domical pile-dwellings ofPuint; the local flora and fauna; thefacial types, clothing, coiffures, and ornaments of the Puintites; and even themongrel pup, which barks a welcome to thevisitors from afar. Racially and even culturally thePuntites and theEgyp tians appear to have been related-a fact which seems inno way to have lessened the intense curiosity with which the two peoples regarded each other.