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He may have sailed around Britain; he describes it as a triangle and also relates that the inhabitants “harvest grain crops by cutting off the ears…and storing them in covered granges.” Around Thule, “the northernmost of the British Isles, six days sail from Britain,” there is “neither sea nor air but a mixture like sea-lung…binds everything together,” a reference perhaps to drift ice or dense sea fog.
Thule has been identified with Iceland (too far north), with Mainland island of the Shetland group (too far south), and perhaps, most plausibly, with Norway.
The rapid colonization of the shores of the Mediterranean and of the Black Sea by Phoenicia and the Greek city-states in the 1st millennium ) with a geographical description of the then known world: this introductory material reveals that the coastlines of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea had by then been explored.
Stories survive of a few men who are credited with bringing new knowledge from distant journeys.
Some scholars think that Hanno reached only the desert edge south of the Atlas; other scholars identify the “deep river infested with crocodiles and hippopotamuses” with the Sénégal River; and still others believe that the island where men “scampered up steep rocks and pelted us with stones” was an island off the coast of Sierra Leone.
There is no record that Hanno’s voyage was followed up before the era of Henry the Navigator, a Portuguese prince of the 15th century.
Herodotus tells of five young adventurers of the tribe of the Nasamones living on the desert edge of Cyrenaica in North Africa, who journeyed southwest for many months across the desert, reaching a great river flowing from west to east; this presumably was the Niger, although Herodotus thought it to be the Upper Nile.
with 60 ships and 30,000 colonists “to found cities.” Even allowing for a possible great exaggeration of numbers, this expedition, if it occurred, can hardly have been the first exploratory voyage along the coast of West Africa; indeed, Herodotus reports that Phoenicians circumnavigated the continent about 600 .
Neither the Swedes nor the Danes traveling in these regions were exploring lands that were unknown to civilized Europeans, but it is doubtless that contact with them brought to these Europeans new knowledge of the distant northern lands.
About the same time, ), as retold by the Roman savant Pliny the Elder, the Greek geographer Strabo, and the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, all of whom were critical of its truth.
It is probable that Pytheas, having coasted the shores of the Bay of Biscay, crossed from the island of Ouessant (Ushant), off the French coast of Brittany, to Cornwall in southwestern England, perhaps seeking tin.
It was the Norsemen of Norway who were the true explorers, though, since little of their exploits was known to contemporaries and that little soon forgotten, they perhaps added less to the common store of Europe’s knowledge than their less adventurous compatriots.
About 890 , Ohthere of Norway, “desirous to try how far that country extended north,” sailed round the North Cape, along the coast of Lapland to the White Sea.