World of Ancients

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Summary: Discusses the voyages, navigation routes, and watercraft of explorersin the ancient world, from prehistoric times to the beginning of theMiddle Ages.

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Exploration in the World of the Ancients



Exploration in the World of the Ancients


Exploration in the World of the AncientsCopyright 2005 by John S. Bowman Maps 2005 by Facts On File, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information contact: Facts On File, Inc. 132 West 31st Street New York NY 10001 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Bowman, John Stewart, 1931 Exploration in the world of the ancients / John S. Bowman ; Maurice Isserman and John S. Bowman, general editors. p. cm. (Discovery and exploration) Summary: Discusses the voyages, navigation routes, and watercraft of explorers in the ancient world, from prehistoric times to the beginning of the Middle Ages. Includes bibliographical references (p. ). ISBN 0-8160-5257-3 1. Geography, AncientJuvenile literature. 2. Discoveries in geography Juvenile literature. [1. Geography, Ancient. 2. Discoveries in geography. 3. Explorers.] I. Isserman, Maurice. II. Title. III. Series. G86.B68 2004 910'.9'01dc22 2003023033 Facts On File books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk quantities for businesses, associations, institutions, or sales promotions. Please call our Special Sales Department in New York at (212) 967-8800 or (800) 322-8755. You can find Facts On File on the World Wide Web at Text design by Erika K. Arroyo Cover design by Kelly Parr Maps by Patricia Meschino and Dale Williams Printed in the United States of America VB FOF 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 This book is printed on acid-free paper.

To Francesca who has supported my explorations all these years

Note on PhotosMany of the illustrations and photographs used in this book are old, historical images. The quality of the prints is not always up to current standards, as in some cases the originals are from old or poor quality negatives or are damaged. The content of the illustrations, however, made their inclusion important despite problems in reproduction.

ContentsPreface xi

1 PYTHEAS VOYAGES NORTHAncient NavigationTin Routes, 350 B.C.A.D. 500 Pytheass Voyage, ca. 315 B.C.

146 9

The Kyrenia: An Ancient Ship Salvaged


2 THE ORIGINAL EXPLORERSSites Associated with Hominids, 3.5 million450,000 Years Ago


Homo sapiens as Homo exploransSites Associated with Humans in the Americas before 8000 B.C.


The First Watercraft Discovering the Pacific Islands

22 26

3 EARLY ANCIENT EXPLORERSEgyptians and ShipsVoyages by Egyptians and Phoenicians, ca. 600475 B.C.


Fictitious ExplorationsEarly Mediterranean and Black Sea Routes, ca. 900350 B.C.


4 THE INQUISITIVE GREEKSThe Amber RoutesAmber Routes from Baltic to Mediterranean Sea, 1500 B.C.A.D. 500


Lost AtlantisWorld as Seen by Herodotus, ca. 450 B.C.


5 ALEXANDER THE GREAT AND THE HELLENISTIC WORLDJourneys of Alexander the Great, 334325 B.C.


The Lighthouse and Library of AlexandriaSpread of Hellenistic Culture after 323 B.C.


The Greek Geographers


6 THE EXPANSIVE ROMANSAll Roads Lead . . .Major Roman Roads in Italy, 312 B.C.A.D. 14 Roman Empire in the Time of Augustus, ca. A.D. 14

748183 85

A Roman Road MapTrade Routes between the Mediterranean and Asia, 350 B.C.A.D. 500


7 CHINAS AND ASIAS ROLE IN EXPLORATIONPre-Columbian Asians in the Americas?Main Routes of Silk Road, 125 B.C.A.D. 200


Buddhism across AsiaSpread of Buddhism, 300 B.C.A.D. 100


8 A WORLD CLOSES INThe Original Tourist: Pausanias Atlantic IslandsThe Inhabited World, ca. A.D. 500

108110 112116

Glossary Further Information Index

125 129 133


Upon hearing that there is to be a book about discovery and exploration in the ancient world, many people express some surprise: Were there explorers in the ancient world? What did they discover? Such doubts are understandable because there are so many preconceptions and misconceptions about the nature of discovery and exploration. Although no single book can set the record straight for everyone, this volumeone in a set that will describe the entire history of the discovery and exploration of the worldshould go a long way toward throwing light on this remote phase of history. Perhaps the problem starts with the fact that, to put it politely, many people are a bit shaky when it comes to ancient history, so it is best to start by defining what is meant by the ancient world. Usually this is considered to begin with the first writing systemswhich would be about 3500 or 3000 B.C. The time before that is then termed prehistory, a concept that recognizes the written record as the beginning of history as a discipline. To better understand how the world was actually opened up by and to human beings, however, this book does go back before the written record and recognizes that the first discoverers and explorers were, in fact, the nameless


people who first moved into so many distant corners of the earth. Other histories of exploration tend to overlook these people. This book takes considerable pride in giving them their due. Then, by longstanding agreement among historians in the Western world at least, the ancient period is considered to have ended about A.D. 500. Various events are traditionally singled out, but one in particular is regarded as the turning point: The last Roman emperor in the West was deposed in 476 by a Germanic leader, Odoacer. With the end of the Roman control of Europe, various tribes began to fight over the territories; Europe began to move into what was long known as the Dark Ages. That concept is now generally rejected and the more neutral term Middle Ages suffices. But there is no denying that putting an end to the ancient world in A.D. 500 still has a European or Western bias. True, Huns and Mongols began to move into India and across Central Asia about this same time, and people in those lands also experienced difficult times. But not all peoples throughout the world went into a phase of decline. In Central America, for instance, some Mayan centers moved into their classical period; China went through some unsettling years, but by 618 entered a xi



Exploration in the World of the Ancients There is another reason that these ancient peoples voyages are sometimes not recognized as discoveries and explorations: They did not have much deliberate concern for or conscious awareness of opening up the world for posterity, for all humankind. The individuals or expeditions went forth to gain some advantage for their sponsorsusually rulers, and neither the explorers nor the sponsors showed much interest in assembling objective knowledge and making it available to the world at large. In fact, knowledge of new places was often jealously guarded for fear that other people might try to gain access to the land and its resources. Rather than give true reports, the first people to discover new lands often circulated stories of wild creatures and dangerous features to frighten off others. The ancient Phoenicians were particularly notorious for guarding their knowledge of new routes and locales and resources. They wanted to maintain a monopoly in the trade of tin, for example, which they imported from the British Isles. There is even a story recounted by the ancient Greek historian Strabo of a Phoenician ship captain who realized he was being followed by a Roman ship while he was making his way to the British Isles to get a load of tin. Rather than reveal the source of the tin, the Phoenician deliberately led the Roman ship onto a shoal where both ships were wrecked. After he made his way back to the Phoenician colony at Gades, Spain, the captain was rewarded by the government for his loss. There was one ancient people, though, who stand out as exceptions to most of these practices. A people who showed an interest in the earth other than what it might yield in commercial exploitation. Who did attempt to gather facts about the world beyond their own immediate spheres of trade and power. Above all, who wrote down and circulated as much

classical period with the Tang dynasty; Islam would prove to be a dynamic force in a large part of the world. Although this volume ends about A.D. 500, it recognizes that peoples outside Europe were still on the move. Then there are the very words discovery and exploration. Discovery tends to suggest that no one had been there before, and this would hold true for those nameless people who first moved into the various corners of the earth. But the concept of discovery of new lands has come to refer to those who first reported their finds, those who usually returned to their starting points and were the first to write about the lands and peoples they had just visited. Over and over again, this history makes the point that discovery depends on a written account. But this was not necessarily the report of the original discoverer. For that is another characteristic shared by many if not most of these stories of ancient discoveries and explorations: Many of the accounts of ancient discoveries and explorations are secondhandthat is, if there were original firsthand accounts, they were long ago lost, and only reports of the original survive. Furthermore, the accounts are often fragmentary. Much of the evidence comes down to only one record a passing reference in some text, ofte