The Importance Of Frankincense & Myrrh Through The Ages
Roman Frankincense Trail
Somalia and Ethiopia are the geographical source of biblical frankincense and myrrh, respectively, given to Jesus by the three wise men. Somali frankincense is called Asli in Arabic which translates to "the first" and the "the original". The frankincense trail, made famous by the Romans , started in Somaliland, made its way by dhows across the Red Sea to southern Arabia and finally to Rome.
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Today's Frankincense Trade
Most of the worlds supply of frankincense
and myrrh, today, comes from Somalia
and Ethiopia respectively. Two of the most respected species of frankincense (B. carteri and B. frereana) are indigenous to Somalia (Somaliland and Puntland regions), whilst myrrh is indigenous to both Somaliland and the arid regions of Ethiopia. Contrary to media publications, the trade in frankincense and myrrh stemming from southern Arabia (Oman and Yemen respectively) is, and has been historically, very small in comparison to that obtained from the "Horn of Africa".
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Egyptian Land of Punt
The "Horn of Africa" (Somalia and Ethiopia) was known to the ancient Egyptians as the Land of Punt. Over 3,000 years ago the Egyptian queen Hatshepsut, sent an expedition to the Land of Punt to collect frankincense, myrrh, gold and spices as gifts for her father King Tutmose II. The temple reliefs of Dier-el-Bahri, above, show the Somali Punites carrying frankincense onto the Egyptian ships.