Bernier, François, Travels in the Mogul Empire A.D. 1656-1668

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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is found: I therefore inquired in what part of Aj'rica,
relatively to Bab-el-mandel, Dumbia is situated. But they
could return no other answer than that it lay toward the
West. I was surprised to hear this observation, especially
from the Mahometan ambassador, who ought to be better
informed than a Christian of the relative bearings of places,
because all Mahometans are bound, when repeating their
prayers, to look toward Meca. He also persisted in saying
that Dumbia is situated to the west of Bab-el-mandel; so
that the source of the river Nile, according to these
ambassadors, is considerably to the north of the equator,
and not to the south, where it is placed by Ptolemy, and in
.all our maps.

We inquired further of them when it rained in Ethiopia,
and whether the rains were periodical in that country
as in the Indies. They answered that it seldom or never
rained along the coast of the Red Sea, from Sunken,
Arkiko, and the island of Masouva, to Bab-el-mandel, any
more than at Moka, in Arabia Felix, on the' opposite shore
of that sea. In the interior of the country, however, in
the province of the Agaus, in Dumbia, and the circumjacent
provinces, the rains were very heavy during the two hottest
months of summer, those months when it also rains in the
Indies, and exactly the time when, according to my com¬
putation, the increase of the Nile in Egypt takes place.
They were quite aware, the ambassadors added, that the
swelling of that river and the inundations of Egypt were
caused by the rains of Ethiopia; and that the former
country owed its fecundity to the slime conveyed and
deposited thither by the Nile. It was from these circum¬
stances, they observed, that the Kings of Ethiopia derived
the right of exacting tribute from Egypt; and when that
kingdom was subdued by the Mahometans, and its Christian
population became oppressed and exposed to every in¬
dignity, the Ethiopian Monarch had thoughts of turning
the course of the river toward the Red Sea, a measure
which would  have destroyed  the fertility of Egypt, and
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