In antiquity, an emporion (Greek) or emporium (Latin; the plural is emporia in both languages) was a place which the traders of one nation had reserved to their business interests within the territory of another nation. Famous emporia include Sais, where Solon went to acquire the knowledge of Egypt; Elim, where Hatshepsut kept her Red Sea fleet; Elat, where Thebes was supplied with mortuary materials, linen, bitumen, naphtha, frankincense, myrrh, and carved stone amulets from Palestine, Canaan, Aram, Lebanon, Amon, Hazor, Moab, Edom and the Arabian Peninsula from the Arabia Petra to Midian and Punt, Olbia where cereals, fish and slaves were imported from.
Emporia functioned much like European trading colonies in China.
In ancient Greek it refers both to the various Greek and Phoenician city-states and trade outposts in Egypt, Northern Africa, Spain, Britain, and the Arabian peninsula. Included in this term are cities like Avaris and Syene in lower Egypt, Thebes in upper Egypt, the Red Sea Port of Elim, and Elat at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba between Edom and Midian. For the Hittites, it included Kanesh and Kadesh on the border of Lebanon, Syria and Canaan, and for Phoenicia it included Gadges, Carthage, Lepcis Magna, and Cyrene among others (although Cyrene was originally founded by Greeks).
- Septimius Severus; The African Emperor, Anthony R. Birley, pgs. 1-7