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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Ancient trading centers in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula according to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Map of Yemen

Cane (Qana) was the ancient principal Hadrami trading post between India and Africa, with incense producing areas in its hinterland.[1] Cane is the southern most port in South Arabia. Today Cane is known as Mukalla.


Jat clans


The incense fields, and the heartland of Yemen were to the north of this port. Incense was loaded onto dhows here for destinations in Europe via ports on the northern end of the Red Sea. In time, Cane became a clearing house for ships and goods arriving from India, destined for Europe. [2]

Modern Mukalla

Today Cane is known as Mukalla. It is the capital of the province, and is a pain port known as ‘The Gate of the Hadramaut.’ It is also a popular tourist spot on the southern cost of Yemen. [3]

Mukalla (Arabic: ٱلْمُكَلَّا, Al Mukallā) is a seaport[1] and the capital city of Yemen's largest governorate, Hadhramaut. The city is in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula on the Gulf of Aden, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, about 480 kilometres east of Aden. It is the most important port in the Hadhramaut and the fifth-largest city in Yemen, with a population of approximately 500,000. The city is served by the nearby Riyan International Airport.

Mukalla is not far from Cane or Qana, the ancient principal Hadrami trading post between India and Africa, with incense producing areas in its hinterland.[4]

Mention by Pliny

Pliny[5] mentions....Passengers generally set sail at midsummer, before the rising of the Dog-star, or else immediately after, and in about thirty days arrive at Ocelis28 in Arabia, or else at Cane29, in the region which bears frankincense. There is also a third port of Arabia, Muza30 by name; it is not, however, used by persons on their passage to India, as only those touch at it who deal in incense and the perfumes of Arabia.

More in the interior there is a city; the residence of the king there is called Sapphar31, and there is another city known by the name of Save. To those who are bound for India, Ocelis is the best place for embareation.

28 Now called Gehla, a harbour and emporium at the south-western point of Arabia Felix.

29 An emporium or promontory on the southern coast of Arabia, in the country of the Adramitæ, and, as Arrian says, the chief port of the increase-bearing country. It has been identified by D'Anville with Cava Canim Bay, near a mountain called Hissan Ghorab, at the base of which there are ruins to be seen.

30 Probably the modern Mosch, north of Mokha, near the southern extremity of Arabia Felix.

31 Its ruins are now known as Dhafar. It was one of the chief cities of Arabia, standing near the southern coast of Arabia Felix, opposite the modern Cape Guardafui.

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