Erythraean Sea

"Erythrean Sea" redirects here. For the ancient name of the Red Sea, see Red Sea.
Erythraean Sea
بحر اريترا

Map showing the Erythraean Sea off the Horn of Africa. Drawn by James Rennell, 1799.
Location Northwestern Indian Ocean
Coordinates 12°0′N 55°0′E / 12.000°N 55.000°E / 12.000; 55.000Coordinates: 12°0′N 55°0′E / 12.000°N 55.000°E / 12.000; 55.000
Type Sea
Basin countries Yemen, Somalia

The Erythraean Sea (Greek: Ἐρυθρὰ Θάλασσα, Erythra Thalassa, "Red Sea") is the name in ancient cartography for a body of water located between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula. The name is now obsolete.


This appellation may have derived from the seasonal blooms of the red-coloured Trichodesmium erythraeum near the water's surface.[1]

In the third century, Flavius Philostratus made this comment: "And they say that the sea called Erythra or "red" is of a deep blue colour, but that it was so named, as I said before, from a King Erythras, who gave his own name to the sea in question." [2]

Use of the name

The name "Erythraean Sea" has been or is still used for the following places:

Names, routes and locations of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.
17th-century map depicting the locations of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.

See also


  1. "Red Sea". Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  2. Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book III, chapter L, Loeb Classical Library
  3. 1794, Orbis Veteribus Notus by Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville
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