Genesis 2:11-12 describes a land called Havillah, where there is very good gold.

Were there historical attempts made to locate this land, and what do we know about such expeditions if they did exist?

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    This looks answerable historically: it is about the reception of the text by historically knowable groups. Oct 23, 2014 at 21:08
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about mythology. Oct 23, 2014 at 22:11
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    @PieterGeerkens I'm brand new here, so I don't know the scope so well, but is a question about if people have attempted to locate something "mythological" off-topic? I'm not asking for mythological accounts, I am asking for historical accounts of pursuit of this. Oct 23, 2014 at 23:11
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    @YEZ: This question is in the grey area, but so far just my one vote to close, so don't panic - Semaphore and Oldcat didn't vote to close. However, if you had presented a bit more research yourself perhaps the down-voter would have abstained also. The site is what the experienced users make it, and we don't always agree. Oct 23, 2014 at 23:34
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    Downvoted because it's Mythology, not History. (Apparently there is a Mythology StackExchange site, so perhaps it could be migrated?)
    – jamesqf
    Feb 28, 2021 at 18:22

2 Answers 2


Land of Punt

It is entirely biblical and no way of proving its existance, but according to Wikipedia and . "The Location of the Garden of Eden" Certain biblical scholars claim that their term for the location "Havilah" corresponds with "Land of Punt".

Land of Punt, Wikipedia

while some biblical scholars have identified it with the biblical land of Put or Havilah.7

Location of Land of Punt

Scholars and historians can't agree with eachother regarding the exact location of the land of punt, however i will provide a photo from Wikipedia which highlights the general area in question.

LOP, Wikipedia

The exact location of Punt is debated by historians. Various locations have been offered, southeast of Egypt, a Red Sea coastal region: Somaliland, Djibouti, northeast Ethiopia, Eritrea, and north-east Sudan. It is also possible that it covered both the Horn of Africa and Southern Arabia.10

LOP by Cush at English Wikipedia Supposed location around the Red Sea and major travel routes by land and sea

Egyptian records

Indeed, the land of Punt is known from Egyptian records as having been a prime location for Gold mining.

LOP, Wikipedia

The Land of Punt (Egyptian: Pwente.png pwnt; alternate Egyptological readings Pwene(t)3 /pu:nt/) was an ancient kingdom. A trading partner of Ancient Egypt, it was known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, blackwood, ebony, ivory and wild animals. The region is known from ancient Egyptian records of trade expeditions to it.4

What do we know about such expeditions if they did exist?

Well Egyptologists appear confident that according to the Palermo stone, Sahure (c. 2465 – c. 2325 BC) is the first documented pharoah to conduct an expedition to the land of Punt.

Foreign activities, trade and tribute, Wikipedia

In his last year, Sahure sent the first documented[73] expedition to the fabled land of Punt,[74] probably along the Somalian coast.[75] The expedition, which is conjectured to have departed Egypt from the harbor of Mersa Gawasis,[16] is reported on the Palermo Stone7

Sahure King Sahure


Though earlier undocumented expeditions may have already been underway, as according to Wikipedia gold was already in abundance in ancient egypt as early as the reign of Khufu.

The earliest recorded ancient Egyptian expedition to Punt was organized by Pharaoh Sahure of the Fifth Dynasty (25th century BC), returning with cargoes of antyue and Puntites. However, gold from Punt is recorded as having been in Egypt as early as the time of Pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty.[14]

Khufu Khufu


According to an uncited claim on wikipedia, a mysterious land rich in gold also appears in early Sumerian literature. The land is named Aratta.

Role in Sumerian literature, Wikipedia

Aratta is described as follows in Sumerian literature: It is a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them.1

The land of gold described in Genesis?

Whilst nothing conclusive can be said for definite where Havilah actually was, it appears most biblical scholars and historians based upon documentation would likely agree that the most likely location would be the land of Punt, somewhere approximate to the red sea.


A quick look at the Bible text names two known rivers (Tigris and Euphrates) and two unknown, one of which (the Pishon) flows from this land of Havillah. According to the text, Eden is at the headwaters of all four, which would put it somewhere in Anatolia.

A Google search for "Havilah and Pishon River" brings up some interesting maps, most of which discard the headwaters concept and put Eden and the missing rivers in Modern Iraq, near the Perisan Gulf. They then postulate two lost rivers flowing in from Arabia or Iran. So one of those could be the area spoken of. Some others equate it with the Nile, which has the gold for sure but does not flow anywhere near the Tigris and Euphrates.

Even if you knew the right area, Gold is often deposited by rivers in alluvial banks, which could well be exhausted in the subsequent millennia, so ancient Havillah presumably would have no more gold to find.

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    This answer seems to answer the mythological question "Where is Havilah?" Not suited to this board. It does not answer the historical question, "Did people conduct expeditions to locate this mythic land?" Compare: "Where is Atlantis" to "What expeditions have people made to locate Atlantis". Oct 23, 2014 at 23:40
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    @SamuelRussell Huh. There's no existing question yet for "What expeditions have people made to locate Atlantis?" on History.SE. I want it :-) Although you'd have to include armchair expeditions by scholars, I guess Oct 24, 2014 at 3:44
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    Well Babylon is the kingdom of gold in the prophecy of Daniel, so maybe they built up this gold reputation from Genesis? Iraq is basically Babylon geographically. Oct 24, 2014 at 13:33

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