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Pliny: Natural History

cumminosum. adulteratur amygdala nuce, cetera eius genera cortice et scordasti—ita vocatur arbor aemulo cummi. sed deprehenduntur—quod semel dixisse et in ceteros odores satis sit—odore, colore, pondere, gustu, igne. Bactrio nitor siccus multique candidi ungues, praeterea suum pondus quo gravius esse aut levius non debeat. pretium sincero in libras 𐆖 iii.

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XX. Gentes supra dictas Persis attingit. Rubro mari, quod ibi Persicum sinum1 vocavimus, longe in terram aestus agente mira arborum natura: namque erosae sale, invectis derelictisque similes, sicco litore radicibus nudis polyporum modo amplexae steriles harenas spectantur. eaedem mari adveniente fluctibus pulsatae resistunt immobiles; quin et pleno aestu operiuntur totae, adparetque rerum argumentis asperitate aquarum illas ali. magnitudo miranda est, species similis unedoni, pomum amygdalis extra, intus contortis nucleis.

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XXI. Tyros2 insula in eodem sinu est, repleta silvis qua spectat orientem quaque et ipsa aestu maris perfunditur. magnitudo singulis arboribus fici, flos

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Book XII

sort is moister, and gummy. Almonds are used toTrade adulteration of spices; its detection. adulterate Indian bdellium, but all the other sorts are adulterated also with the bark of scordastum, that being the name of a tree that resembles the gum. But these adulterations can be detected—and it must be enough to state this once for all, to apply to all other perfumes as well—by smell, colour, weight, taste and the action of fire. The Bactrian bdellium is shiny and dry, and has a number of white spots like finger-nails; and also it has a specific weight of its own and ought not to be heavier or lighter than this. The price of pure bdellium is 3 denarii a pound.

XX. Adjoining the races above mentioned isTrees of Iran. Persia. On the Red Sea, which at this point we have calleda the Persian Gulf, the tides of which are carried a long way inland, the treesb are of a remarkable nature; for they are to be seen on the coast when the tide is out, embracing the barren sands with their naked roots like polypuses, eaten away by the salt and looking like trunks that have been washed ashore and left high and dry. Also these trees when the tide rises remain motionless although beaten by the waves; indeed at high water they are completely covered, and the evidence of the facts clearly proves that this species of tree is nourished by the brackish water. They are of marvellous size, and in appearance they resemble the strawberry-tree, but their fruit is like almonds outside and contains a spiral kernel.

XXI. In the same gulf is the island of Tyros,c whichTrees of the Persian islands: the cotton-tree; other Eastern trees supplying cloth. is covered with forests in the part facing east, where it also is flooded by the sea at high tide. Each of the trees is the size of a fig-tree; they have a flower with

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938