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‘On the Red Sea the Trees are of a Remarkable Nature’ (Pliny the Elder): The Red Sea Mangroves from the Greco-Roman Perspective

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Chapter Summary

Mangrove forests are seriously endangered and have recently become the focus of considerable attention. While nowadays ecological and biological questions tend to predominate, few scholars have paid attention to the discovery of mangrove in the Graeco-Roman period. In this article I examine where and when mangroves were observed by the Greeks and the Romans during their early voyages in the Indian Ocean.I also demonstrate the remarkable degree of scientific accuracy achieved in the writings of Theophrastus and in the observations of the explorers of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Finally I focus on the major features of the mangrove as a landscape from the Graeco-Roman point of view, and on the relationships between these forests and the local peoples.



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