Somalia: The Ancient Lost Kingdom of Punt is Finally Found?
Tourists from all over the world are welcomed in Upper Egypt to admire temples and learn about the fascinating history of ancient pharaohs. However, the pharaohs’ true origins are not told and our literature is lacking adequate information.
Queen Hatshepsut's temple inscriptions at Luxor reveal that her divine mother, Hathor, was from Punt - with strong indications that the pharaohs considered the origin of their culture to be Punt Land. The following is a step in the direction of exploring the pharaohs’ roots and establishing a trip along history and time.
Carved cedar sculpture of the head of Hathor. (Egyptian 16th Dynasty). (Public Domain)
The Land of the Gods
Punt Land is described in ancient Egyptian texts as the "Land of the Gods" and a region rich in resources. After Jean-Francois Champollion deciphered the pharaoh’s hieroglyphics in 1822 AD, western scholars began reading the texts. Debates started as to the origins of the pharaohs and the location of Punt Land.
Egypt grew as a nation with trade that increased in the latter part of the Pre-Dynastic Period (c. 6000-3150 BC). By the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150-2613 BC) trade was firmly established with regions in Mesopotamia and Phoenicia. The Fifth Dynasty (c. 2498-2345 BC) witnessed Egypt’s flourishing through trade with Punt Land.
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Egyptian expedition to Punt during the reign of Hatshepsut. (Hans Bernhard/CC BY SA 3.0)
Fourth Dynasty reliefs show a Puntite with one of Khufu’s sons, and Fifth Dynasty documents demonstrate trade between the two countries. A tomb inscription of the military commander Pepynakht Heqalb, who served under King Pepy II (2278-2184 BC) of the Sixth Dynasty, narrates how Heqalb was sent to "the land of the Aamu" to retrieve the body of the warden of Kekhen.
Punt Land became a semi-mythical land for the pharaohs, but it was a real place through the New Kingdom (1570-1069 BC). During the reign of Amunhotep II (1425-1400 BC) delegations from Punt were accepted. The reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC) and of Ramesses III (1186-1155 BC) mentioned Punt as well. The pharaohs were fascinated by Punt as a "land of plenty" and it was best known as Ta Netjer – “God’s Land.”
Queen Ati, wife of King Perahu of Punt, as she is depicted on Pharaoh Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el-Bahri. (Public Domain)
Somalia – Continuing Puntite Traditions
In Hatshepsut’s temple, an expedition shows Punt Land located in present day Somalia. The ancient Somali name for their region was "Bunn", a name referenced in texts related to trade with the pharaohs as "Pwenet" or "Pwene", and the region is known as "Bunni" today. The culture of Punt Land bears several resemblances to that of the ancient Egyptians, such as language, ceremonial dress, and the arts.
Left: Somali youth dancing the “dhaanto.” (Somali Egyptian-Puntite History) Right: Ancient Egyptians with similar white clothing in a fresco from the Tomb of Pashedu at Deir el-Medina. (kairoinfo4u/CC BY NC SA 2.0) Pashedu was a "Servant in the Place of Truth on the West of Thebes" and probably began working while Seti I was pharaoh.
Regarding language, a comparison of ancient Egyptian to Somali vocabulary shows remarkable similarities:
- Ancient Egyptian, “Hes” = song, sing with musical instrument/ in Somali, “Hes” = song, sing with musical instrument.
- “AAR” means “lion” in both languages.
- Ancient Egyptian, “Ra” = the Sun God/ in Somali “Qor Rah” means the neck of Rah.
- Ancient Egyptian, Haa – Hey = glad, to be glad/ in Somali, Haa – Hey = glad.
- Ancient Egyptian, “Hun”, Hunnu” = young man, young girl/ in Somali “Hun”, “Hunno” = young man, young girl.
- Ancient Egyptian/ in Somali Awoow = grandfather, old man.
Left: Ancient Egyptian dancers and flutist. (Public Domain) Right: Young Somali women and men performing the traditional dhaanto dance-song in Jubaland. (aflaanta std/CC BY 3.0)
Punt Land’s Location Found
Based on the evidence of the ancient pharaoh’s inscriptions, Punt/Punt Land is certainly the State of Somalia at the Horn of Africa. The ancient city of Opone in Somalia is identical to the city of Pouen referenced as part of Punt by ancient inscriptions.
As previously mentioned, Hatshepsut's inscriptions also claim that her divine mother was from Punt - and there is evidence that Bes (the goddess of childbirth) came from Punt Land as well. Other inscriptions indicate that the 18th Dynasty pharaohs considered Punt as the origin of their culture.
A large granite sphinx bearing the likeness of the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Dating to the joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, circa 1479-1458 BC. (Keith Schengili-Roberts/CC BY SA 2.5)
Hatshepsut’s Punt Expedition
The Land of Punt was long associated with the gods in ancient Egyptian history because materials from Punt were also used in their temple rituals. Priests wore leopard skins, gold became statuary, and incense was burned in the temples.
Hatshepsut's reign was among the most prosperous in Egyptian history. She considered her expedition to Punt Land among her greatest successes. The importance of Punt to the queen is evident at her temple; where scenes from Hatshepsut's life decorate the walls of the colonnades; her birth, the transportation of obelisks for the Temple of Amun in Thebes, and the great expedition to Punt are all depicted.
A relief depicting incense and myrrh trees obtained in Hatshepsut's expedition to Punt. (Hans Bernhard/CC BY SA 3.0)
Hatshepsut's Punt expedition had special significance, simply because it was larger than any other, and evidence suggests that it was directed by the gods to establish a connection. Amun-Ra of Karnak spoke from his sanctum in the temple and directed Hatshepsut to undertake the exploration of Punt Land. Hatshepsut made petition at the stairs of the Lord of the gods. A command was heard from the Great Throne, an oracle of the god himself, for her to search out ways to Punt Land. Hatshepsut then commanded that the will of the god be done.
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She ordered the construction of five ships for the journey which traveled down the Nile through Wadi Tumilat. (The Arabic name of 'Wadi Tumilat' is believed to reflect the existence of a great temple to the god Atum in the area.) Then, they passed through the Pharaoh’s Canal in the eastern Delta. The crews carried their ships overland to the Red Sea after disassembling them. Then they hugged the shores as they made their way to Punt Land at the Horn of Africa. From inscriptions found in Hatshepsut's temple it is clear the Puntites were amazed at the pharaoh’s arrival.
An image of Queen Hatshepsut’s sailing boat during an expedition to the Land of Punt on the Red Sea coast. (Public Domain)
Based on the inscriptions from Hatshepsut's reign, the five ships set out from a port on the Red Sea - probably Quseir, to journey southwards to Suakin, where the expedition disembarked with the ships that were hugging the shoreline. From Suakin, the route to Punt Land was overland through the Red Sea hills.
Map of a proposed location of Punt with trade routes from Egypt to Punt via rivers, wadis, and by sea. Mennefer is Memphis, Waset is Thebes and Irem and Nemyw are lands that supposedly border on Punt. (Public Domain)
Trading with the Land of Punt
Inscriptions indicate relations between the two countries were very close and show the Puntites as an extremely generous people. The Land of Punt was routinely praised for its riches and the "goodness of the land" by many of the pharaohs’ scribes.
The expedition presented a fair exchange by both parties and the treasures offered by the Puntites were gold (even though the Egyptians had their own gold mines), wild animals, live apes, elephants, leopard skins, ivory, spices, precious woods, cosmetics, incense, aromatic gum, and frankincense and 31 incense trees (Boswellia). This was the first time a plant species was successfully transplanted to another country. The transplant was so successful that the trees flourished in Egypt for centuries.
A tree in front of Hatshepsut's temple, claimed to have been brought from Punt by Hatshepsut's Expedition which is depicted on the Temple walls. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Puntite items were in return for the pharaoh’s weapons, jewelry, metals, and tools. The roots of the frankincense trees brought back from Punt by Hatshepsut’s expedition in 1493 BC can still be seen outside of her temple.
Puntite Workers carrying frankincense during Queen Hatshepsut’s Expedition. (Somali Egyptian-Puntite History) Somalis still wear this traditional costume of their Egyptian -Puntite ancestors. The white royal loincloth called “Gundhate” or “Gunti” (in both Somali and the Egyptian language) and the necklace called “Xirsi” or “Qardhaase.”
Top Image: Relief showing members of Hatshepsut's trading expedition to the mysterious 'Land of Punt' from the pharaoh's temple at Deir El-Bahri. In this scene, Egyptian soldiers carry tree branches and axes. Source: Σταύρος/CC BY 2.0
Mohamed Prince, This article deals with absolute facts, and not with manipulative lying and meaningless racist points of views to your dislike….By the way, the land of PUNT was definitely present day Somalia...As far as Yeminis are concerned, they were simply a COLONY of the Ethiopian empire. As far as your mentioning of Lebanon, that present day country did not exist during the days of “PUNT”. In fact, since you mentiond that the Yemenis were the only peeople who wore wigs similar to the ancient Black Egyptians, I have to tell you that is simply a LIE ha ha ha...The fact of the matter is that ancient kingdoms along the “LEVANT” which included present day Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon were actually “VASSALS” of the ancient Black Egyptian government. The reason for this action was for the sole protection of ancient Egypts defensive structure, because any invading Asiatic adversaries could only come from the area of the Levant, and therefore, ancient Egyptian soldiers were heavily staffed in that area, and was controlled by the Black Egyptian government.. Also, the ancient BLACK MINOANS of Gteece also wore the same type of wigs and dress accessories as the Black Egyptians, which can be observed in several of the Egyptian depictions of these dark brown skin woolly haired ancient Greek people who are considered the most ancient Greek civilization which preceded the ancient Greek Mycenaens. It is also a fact that The ancient Black Minoans spoke a completely different Greek Linear-A language which still cannot be deciphered and understood to this very day, while the Mycenaen Linear-B Greek language is the only one that is understood and is somewaht related to the other Greek languages.. I viewed statues of ancient Black Phoenician Gods such as “Baal” and ‘El” and they are both of Negroid phenotype, and they wear similar ancient Black Egyptian clothing. What we have here today, is that people like you tend to think that ancient Black Phoenicians are todays Lebanese, ONLY BECAUSE PRESENT DAY LEBANON EXISTS IN THAT AREA ha ha ha…..You must remember that while the land might remain the same, THE RACES AND CIVILIZATIONS OF PEOPLE ALWAYS TEND TO CHANGE.. For instance, ANCIENT AMERICANS were not PRESENT DAY AMERICANS, and nor were ANCIENT AUSTRALIANS the same as PRESENT DAY WHITE AUSSIES… Ancient Black Egyptians were name Ramses, Tutankamen, Hathesphut, Nefertitti, etc...They were not named Mohamed, Abdul, Hussein, Bin Laden, Abdullah etc. These Arabic names came about only around the 7th century A.D. (anno domini) …..
This article is misleading and doesn't at all show the multiple sources that indicate the opposite views on the land of punt , there's strong evidences that land of punt is a mystical land, not even a real land , Ancient tribes of east africa Irem, and intey setu , were shown with distinctive look
There's strong evidences of Yemenis, syrian , lebanese origins of the land of punt , yet its not even mentioned here , Its known fact that Frankincense was widely distributed in the ancient world by the ancient Yemenis the only people in antiquity to have worn a wig similar to egyptians were the Yemenis , an Actual Sabean Coffin was found in ancient egyptian pyramids inscribed with a name "Ibn zaid" an Sabean frankincense trader.
"Dimitri Meeks disagrees with this view and points to ancient inscriptions that locate Punt in the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula, from the Gulf of Aqaba to Yemen, he has written that "Texts locating Punt beyond doubt to the south are in the minority, but they are the only ones cited in the current consensus about the location of the country. Punt, we are told by the Egyptians, is situated – in relation to the Nile Valley – both to the north, in contact with the countries of the Near East of the Mediterranean area, and also to the east or south-east, while its furthest borders are far away to the south. Only the Arabian Peninsula satisfies all these indications."
I agree with JB.
This article isn't even about race. It's about an expedition in ancient times and what we might have learned from it. Take it for what it is.
Egyptians today have more sub-Saharan dna than Egyptians during the dynasties. This was proven by DNA in studies that made the news in June 2017. Ancient Egyptians were Mesopotamians and Anatolian just like everyone else in that region during antiquity including Bronze Age Greeks. Charles Bowles’ nonsense has been laid to rest once and for all. I had a college professor who tried to teach this nonsense for an entire semester. I dropped the class.
Eurocenticity has dictated a highly skewed narrative with regards to ancient history. It is undeniably likely that the Land of Punt was in what is now know as Somalia. The people share remnant of the ancient culture. Barkin and Hangool are still used today in Somalia. Thank you for your article.