Sunday, 25 May 2008

The Red Sea, BC 7th century

In the middle east, this account is credited to the 7th century BC from an unnamed Phoenician traveller in Persia who came across fishermen diving for pearls.

“What struck me more in this country is the fishing of pearls . I once had the chance of seeing these pearl fishers at work, off the coasts of the countless islands around the Persian coast. There were at least one hundreds of small boats, each of them carrying 10 pearl divers. They were good divers, capable of staying under water for the time necessary to fill up a bag of oysters, which they removed from the sea-bed with their bare fingers. Then they jumped back onto the deck and started the proceeding all over again.

The owner of each boat opened feverishly the oysters. A swift glance and then he threw them away without even thinking that he could eat them. Unless he found inside a pearl! In that case he removed it gently with the tip of the knife and put it into a bag with a smile as big as the pearl itself. When the sun was halfway between the zenith and the horizon, other boats arrived on the spot with dozens of brokers who chose and set the price for the pearls previously picked, considering their sizes, their roundness, and their light. Those people were the ones that subsequently resold the pearls on the market of Persepoli.”