Troglodytae

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The Troglodytae (Greek: Τρωγλοδύται), or Troglodyti (literally "cave goers"), were a people mentioned in various locations by many ancient Greek and Roman geographers and historians, including Herodotus (5th century BC), Agatharchides (2nd century BC), Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC), Strabo (64/63 BC – c.  24 CE), Pliny (1st century CE), Josephus (37 – c. 100 CE), Tacitus (c. 56 – after 117 CE), etc.

Greco-Roman period[edit]

The earlier references allude to Trogodytes (without the l), evidently derived from Greek trōglē, cave and dytes, divers.[1]

In Herodotus[edit]

Herodotus referred to the Troglodytae in his Histories as being a people hunted by the Garamantes. He said that the Troglodytae were the swiftest runners of all humans known and that they ate snakes, lizards, and other reptiles. He also stated that their language was unlike any known to him, and sounded like the screeching of bats.[2] According to Alice Werner (1913), this was a clear allusion to the early Khoisan since, aside from being hunter-gatherers, their native languages contain distinctive click sounds.[3]

In Strabo[edit]

In his work Geographica, Strabo mentions a tribe of Troglodytae living along with the Crobyzi in Scythia Minor, near the Ister (Danube) and the Greek colonies of Callatis and Tomis.[4][5]

In Josephus[edit]

Flavius Josephus alludes to a place he calls Troglodytis while discussing the account in Genesis, that after the death of Sarah, Abraham married Keturah and fathered six sons who in turn fathered many more. "Now, for all these sons and grandsons, Abraham contrived to settle them in colonies; and they took possession of Troglodytis, and the country of Arabia Felix..."[6]

The Troglodytis Josephus refers to here is generally taken to mean both coasts of the Red Sea.[7] However, Josephus goes on to state that the descendants of one of these grandsons, Epher, invaded Libya, and that the name of Africa was thus derived from that of Epher.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

  • Afri, singular Afer - a Latin name for the inhabitants of the Africa Province
  • Blemmyes - a nomadic Beja tribal kingdom (at least 600 BC - 3rd century CE)
  • Ichthyophagi - name given by ancient geographers to several coast-dwelling peoples in different parts of the world
  • Midian - area in the northwest Arabian Peninsula mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and the Koran, and associated with Ptolemy's Modiana
  • Zimran - the first son of Abraham with Keturah; Abraham's descendants by her are said by Josephus to have settled "Troglodytis" and Arabia Felix

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Agatharchides of Cnidus, On the Erythraean Sea
  2. ^ Herodotus, Histories, 4.183
  3. ^ Werner, A. (January 1913). "The Languages of Africa". Journal of the Royal African Society. 12 (46): 120–135. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  4. ^ Strabo 20 AD, VII 5,12.
  5. ^ Boardman 1991, p. 598.
  6. ^ Josephus Flavius, Antiquities, 1.15.1
  7. ^ Saint Jerome's Hebrew Questions on Genesis

References[edit]

Ancient[edit]

Modern[edit]

  • Boardman, John, ed. (1991). The Cambridge Ancient History. Vol. 3, Part 1: The Prehistory of the Balkans; and the Middle East and the Aegean world, tenth to eighth centuries B.C. London: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-22496-3. 
  • Murray, G.W. and E.H. Warmington (1967), "Trogodytica: The Red Sea Littoral in Ptolemaic Times", The Geographical Journal, Vol. 133, No. 1 (March issue), pp 24–33, 29.