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The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (" Periplus of the Red Sea"), a Greek periplus written by an unknown author around the 1st century AD, contain a detailed description of the Red Sea's ports and sea routes. The Periplus also describes how Hippalus first discovered the direct route from the Red Sea to India.The Red Sea was favored for Roman trade with India starting with the reign of Augustus, when the Roman Empire gained control over the Mediterranean, Egypt, and the northern Red Sea.In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez (leading to the Suez Canal). The sea is underlain by the Red Sea Rift which is part of the Great Rift Valley.The Red Sea has a surface area of roughly 438,000 km² (169,100 mi²). It is about 2250 km (1398 mi) long and, at its widest point, 355 km (220.6 mi) wide.The route had been used by previous states but grew in the volume of traffic under the Romans.From Indian ports goods from China were introduced to the Roman world.Name Red Sea is a direct translation of the Greek Erythra Thalassa (Ερυθρὰ Θάλασσα) and Latin Mare Rubrum (alternatively Sinus Arabicus, literally " Arabian Gulf"), Arabic Al-Baḥr Al-Aḥmar (البحر الأحمر) or Baḥr Al-Qalzam(بحر القلزم), Somali Badda Cas and Tigrinya Qeyyiḥ bāḥrī (ቀይሕ ባሕሪ).
The account is part of the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt. In the 6th century BC, Darius the Great of Persia sent reconnaissance missions to the Red Sea, improving and extending navigation by locating many hazardous rocks and currents.
] is that the name red is referring to the direction South, just as the Black Sea's name may refer to North.
The basis of this theory is that some Asiatic languages used color words to refer to the cardinal directions. Herodotus on one occasion uses Red Sea and Southern Sea interchangeably. The association of the Red Sea with the Biblical account of the Israelite Crossing the Red Sea is ancient, and was made explicit in the Septuagint translation of the Book of Exodus from Hebrew to Koine Greek in approximately the third century B. In that version, the Hebrew Yam Suph (ים סוף) is translated as Erythra Thalassa (Red Sea).
Contact between Rome and China depended on the Red Sea, but the route was broken by the Aksumite Empire around the 3rd century AD. During the Middle Ages, the Red Sea was an important part of the Spice trade route.
In 1513, trying to secure that channel to Portugal, Afonso de Albuquerque laid siege to Aden. but was forced to retreat.