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Ancient Mesopotamia Trade Route.

North Africa: ° Algeria ° Egypt ° Libya ° Morocco ° Sudan
West Africa: ° Benin ° Cameroon ° Congo ° Cote d'Ivoire ° Gabon ° (Republic of the) Gambia ° Ghana ° Guinea ° Liberia ° Mauritania ° Mozambique ° Nigeria ° Sao Tome and Principe ° Senegal (Dakar) ° Sierra Leone
East Africa (The Horn of Africa): ° Djibouti ° Kenya ° Eritrea ° Madagascar ° Somalia ° Sudan ° Tanzania ° Zanzibar


° Behghazi ° Marsa El Braga ° Ras Lanuf ° Tripoli

The first inhabitants of Libya were Berber tribes. In the 7th century B.C., Phoenicians colonized the eastern section of Libya, called Cyrenaica, and Greeks colonized the western portion, called Tripolitania. Tripolitania was for a time under Carthaginian control. It became part of the Roman Empire from 46 B.C. to A.D. 436, after which it was sacked by the Vandals. Cyrenaica belonged to the Roman Empire from the 1st century B.C. until its decline, after which it was invaded by Arab forces in 642. Beginning in the 16th century, both Tripolitania and Cyrenaica nominally became part of the Ottoman Empire.


The Port of Benghazi, called Euesperides (or Hesperides) at the time it was founded by the ancient Greeks of Cyrenaica in the 6th Century BC. The Greeks passed it to Ptolemy III, Egyptian pharaoh, naming it Berenice to honor the pharaoh’s wife. The city’s modern name honors a benefactor named Ghazi (Bani Ghazi means Ghazi ’s descendants). After the 3rd Century AD, it surpassed Barce and Cyrene as the region's main center. Later, it began to decline, and it was a small town until the Italians occupied the Port of Benghazi from 1912 to 1942. During the era of Kingdoms in Libya, the Port of Benghazi was more or less a joint capital with the Port of Tripoli, and it continues to house many organizations and institutions normally associated with a country's capital city. This favored status has led to a strong rivalry between the cities and the regions in which they are located (Cyrenaica and Tripolitania).

The Attack Made on Tripoli.

August 3, 1804
by Commodore Edward Preble, 1761-1807

Born at Falmouth, Maine, Edward Preble was the fourth child and third son of General Jedidiah Preble, an officer of the Revolution. Edward was educated at Dummer Academy, Newbury, Massachusetts. At the age of sixteen Preble ran away to sea on a privateer of Newburyport, and in 1779 was appointed a midshipman on the frigate Protector of the Massachusetts navy. This ship fought two actions with the British ships Admiral Duff and Thames. In 1781 she was captured and Preble was confined for a time on the prison-ship Jersey.

The Tripoli Campaign. Commodore Edward Preble. Chipp Reid, Author.In 1782 he was a lieutenant under Captain George Little on the Massachusetts cruiser Winthrop, which succeeded in taking five prizes. After the Revolution he spent fifteen years in the merchant service and visited many parts of the world, being once captured by pirates. Upon the opening of hostilities with France in 1798, he was appointed a lieutenant in the navy. He received a commission as captain on 15 May 1799 and was ordered to the new frigate Essex. The frigate Congress and the Essex set sail with a convoy of merchantment for the East Indies in January 1800, but six days out the Congress was dismasted in a gale and the Essex proceeded alone.

She was the first American warship to show the flag beyond the Cape of Good Hope.

The naval war with France was scarcely brought to a close before the war with Tripoli began and in 1803 Preble was put in command of the third squadron to be sent to the Mediterranean. His flagship was the Constitution, arriving at Gibraltar on 12 September. After working on a difficulty with Morocco in November, Preble sailed east for the rendezvous with the squadron. Before reaching Syracuse, however, he learned of the capture of the Philadelphia by the Tripolitans and the captivity of Captain William Bainbridge with more than 300 members of the crew. The Philadelphia, lying in the harbor of Tripoli, was later destroyed by a prize ketch called the Intrepid, commanded by Stephen Deactur.

Meanwhile, the blockade of Tripoli had been proclaimed and the squadron was also employed in cruising and in preparing for an attack upon the town. Preble borrowed two mortar-boats and six gunboats from the king of the Two Sicilies. The commodore had under his command 1060 officers and men. Tripoli was defended by strong forts and batteries, many gunboats, several larger vessels, and 25,000 men. After much delay because of bad weather, the first assault on Tripoli was made on 3 August 1804. The squadron bombarded the town, inflicting considerable but not vital damage. The Americans were victorious at sea, three of the enemy's gunboats being captured and three sunk. Four subsequent attacks were made, two of them at night, but Tripoli was not captured.

On the night of 4 September, the Intrepid, with 15,000 pounds of powder on board and commanded by Richard Somers, was sent into the harbor to be exploded in the midst of the Tripolitan fleet, but for some reason never explained, the explosion was pre-mature and all hands perished. Preble's total loss during the summer, including the crew of the Intrepid, was thirty killed and twenty-four wounded.

Soon after this a larger and more powerful squadron appeared under the command of Commodore Samuel Barron and Preble was superseded. Very little was accomplished by Barron's squadron and the next year peace was reached with Tripoli on terms far from satisfactory. After his return home Preble was employed in building gunboats for the navy.


June 12, 1898, San Antonio Daily Express, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

Our War Against the Pirates

Tripoli. Calmet. 1729.

The Mediterranean sea less than 100 years ago was infested with pirates, who took into captivity the ships and crews of such nations as had not in some way made peace with or paid tribute to the Barbary powers. Several American vessels suffered at the hands of these buccaneers, and at one time in a single cruise ten of our vessels were captured, and in November, 1793, the number of American prisoners at Algiers was 115.

To the dey of Algiers the United States, like other powers, paid enormous tribute, and to fulfill one treaty it cost nearly $1,000,000. In 1798, having fallen behind In our payments of tribute, we sent four armed vessels to the dey for arrearages, and our consul, in presenting these gifts, was forced to kiss the hand of the piratical potentate.

The cost of buying freedom for our ships from the Barbary powers had amounted In 1801 to more than $2,000, 000. The United States finally made up its mind that this was a condition which no longer could be endured. On the 14th of May, 1801, after repeated insults and demands, the pasha of Tripoli cut down the flagstal of the American consulate in Tripoli and notified the consul that he declared war.

Under Commodore Dale the Enterprise left Hampton Roads and arrived at Gibraltar at the beginning of July 1801. It appeared oft Tripoli and Tunis before the pirates of the Mediterranean had any thought of such a visitor and met the Tripolltan corsair, the Tripoli, and left it after an engagement of three hours a complete wreck, having killed or wounded 20 of the men and escaping with every man of its own crew unharmed. This was the real beginning of the war with Tripoli. President Jefferson was disinclined to engage further in hostilities without an act of congress notwithstanding Tripoli had declared war. Although something was done against the piratical powers In 1801 and 1802, nothing in the way of actual, elaborate war was again on until 1804, congress having passed an act two years before which was virtually a declaration of war.

U.S. Marines Capture the Barbara Pirate Fortress, Derna, Tripoli.
U.S. Marines Capture the
Barbary Pirate Fortress at
Derna, Tripoli. April 27, 1805
C. H. Waterhouse

In 1803, Commodore Preble left for the Mediterranean with a new squadron of two frigates, two brigs and three schooners. By an accident one of his best ships fell into, the enemy's hands, but he afterward found opportunity to destroy this vessel and deprive the enemy of its use.

Burning of the American Ship, Philadelphia

On the 25th of July, 1804, after much wandering up and down the waters of the Mediterranean, Commodore Preble's entire squadron took its station before Tripoli, and with the bombardment of the capital on the 3d of August began a series of engagements that developed an energy and a heroism in the American navy which were the admiration of the world.

It was here that the famous Constitution did such effective work. Before the end of the year the Tripolitans were glad to make terms with this country, and the treaty then established ended forever piratical assaults on American commerce by Barbary powers.

July 1, 1893, Stevens Point Daily Journal, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

A Naval Horror.

The British Battleship Victoria Sunk in the Mediterranean Sea.

Death On The Deep

London, June 24. -- Her majesty's great twin screw battleship Victoria, flying the flag of Vice Admiral George C.Tyron, K.C.B., Commander of the Mediterranean station, was sunk in 18 fathoms of water off Tripoli, and at least 400 of her officers and crew went tothe bottom with her. The disaster was due to the fearful bungling of either her own officers or those of the battleship Camperdown. In broad daylight, during a maneiver, she was run into head on by her companion ship, and in less than a quarter of an hour she had disappeared in the waves, carrying with her all on board. Twenty-one officers, including Vice Admiral Tyron, are reported drowned, and the great fighting ship lies a useless wreck, bottom side up, beneath the waves.

The information so far received is scant, but enough news has come from Syria to make it apparent that the disaster is one of the most horrible, as well as one of the most disgraceful, that has ever befallen the English navy. Tripoli, near where the accident happened, is about 70 miles from Damascus. It has a small harbor, which is so shallow as to be notoriously unsafe. It is supposed that the Victoria found a lack of sea room in putting about as the Camperdown came on and the latter boat hit the flagship squarely on the starboard side with her ram. TheCamperdown was moving under a high steam pressure and the effect was such as would have been made with an ax on a plank.

The plates of the Victoria just forward of the turret were torn apart and a perfect flood poured into the hold of the flagship. She began to sink immediately. The engines of the Camperdown were reversed at once, but not before she had hit theVictoria a second time and completed the work of destruction. Every effort was made to save the ship, but the Victoria settled so fast that this was seen to be impossible, and the men, losing all discipline, cast loose the small boats and attempted to reach the Camperdown. Only three of the boats got free of the suction of the sinking ship. The rest were overturned and many of the occupants of these were drowned with the men who were cooped up in the battleship beyond all chance of rescue. Vice Admiral Tryon is said to be one of those who went down with the ship. The Victoria hardly moved forward after the blow. The water poured so rapidly into her engine-room that the fires were extinguished before the engineer had time to speak.

The Camperdown was in command of Capt. Charles Johnstone. Every effort was made by her officers and crew to save the wretched men of the Victoria. All her boats were put out and many of the Victoria men were picked up in the water besides those taken from the fortunate boats of the flagship. The number of saved is given at 250. The officers of the Victoria are reported to have acted with great bravery and coolness. Most of them stuck to the ship till the last, trying to steady their men and cast loose the boats. The action of the younger officers is especially commended. Many of them went down with the ship. The Victoria sank evenly till the water in the starboard side pulled her over, when she capsized completely, with her keel in the air.

The Victoria was a battleship of 10,470 tons and 14,000-horse power and mounted fifty guns. She was built by the Armstrongs and was regarded as one of the crack fighting machines of the British Navy. Her model is now in Chicago at the exposition. She was selected as Sir George Tryon's flagship when Tryon was made vice admiral, and assigned to the Mediterranean station August 20, 1891. TheCamperdown is also of the Mediterranean fleet and is a slightly smaller boat than the Victoria. She is of 10,000 tons and 11,500-horse power. Admiral Trjon's Record.

Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route
(California World History Library)Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Stevan E. Sidebotham
Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route. Stevan E. Sidebotham, Author.The legendary overland silk road was not the only way to reach Asia for ancient travelers from the Mediterranean. During the Roman Empire's heyday, equally important maritime routes reached from the Egyptian Red Sea across the Indian Ocean. The ancient city of Berenike located approximately 500 miles south of today"s Suez Canal was a significant port among these conduits. In this book Steven E. Sidebotham, the archaeologist who excavated Berenike, uncovers the role the city played in the regional local and "global" economies during the eight centuries of its existence. Sidebotham analyzes many of the artifacts botanical and faunal remains and hundreds of the texts he and his team found in excavations providing a profoundly intimate glimpse of the people who lived worked and died in this emporium between the classical Mediterranean world and Asia.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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