Eritrean History: Adulis was the port town for the Aksumite Empire and one of the most prominent Red Sea ports during the Roman and Byzantine periods. The site is located on the Eritrean Red Sea coast, on the crossroads for trade between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, in a favourable position in the protected Gulf of Zula which is delimited to the north by the Ghedem Massif, a mountain still used today as a landmark by ships navigating in the area . At present, the site is situated some 7km from the coast, on the north bank of the Haddas River. The Haddas valley was a caravan track linking the coast and the Qohaito highland where the Aksumite town of Koloe was located, the stopping point for caravans heading to Aksum as their final destination.
Like the Egyptian ports of Berenike and Myos Hormos, Adulis was one of the most important ports in the Red Sea for trade between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
Literary sources testify to the activity of the Adulis port from the 1st century AD . Exported products from Adulis cited in the classical sources were mainly ivory, obsidian, rhinoceros horns and tortoise shells. Also mentioned among imported products are textiles from Egypt and the East, glass from Judea, metals from India, oil and wine from Italy and Syria. The site is known also in Byzantine sources as the main port for trade between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean on the African coast of the Red Sea . The other main port was Aila (Aqaba) in the Gulf of Aqaba.
In January 2011, an Italian-Eritrean Joint Expedition of the National Museum of Asmara, CeRDO (Eastern Desert Research Centre), the Museum of Rovereto and the CGT (Centre of Geological Technologies) of the University of Siena resumed archaeological excavations in Adulis.