Around 1291, the republic of Genoa was engaged in an urgent search for new trade routes to the East. Much commerce was conducted through Egypt and the Red Sea, but recent conflict had resulted in the Genoese merchant community there being jailed. A treaty concluded in 1290 was supposed to restart trade, which, however, continued to decline for the rest of the decade, owing, in part, to the hostility of the rulers of Aden.The Egyptian seizure of Tripoli and Acre in 1291 removed the western foothold in the Holy Land and prompted a papal embargo on trade with the infidel. Trade with the Indies was still possible via Black Sea ports such as Caffa and Trebizond, which connected with important centres such as Tabriz and onward routes across Asia to India and China. The importance of this overland route is attested by, inter alia, the production in Genoa in 1303 of a multilingual Latin-Persian-Cuman phrasebook for travellers.2 But land travel across the Mongol Khanates was slow and difficult, and it was natural for energetic merchants such as the Genoese to look for alternative routes.