Circumnavigation of Africa

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May 8th, 2017 at 6:41:34 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: Pacomartin
But Herodotus lived in the fifth century BC (c. 484c. 425 BC),and is consider the father of history.


While he often went closer to the source than most, he also reported assertions rather uncritically in his works. For example, he's told by a guide that the writing in the pyramids are a record of how much produce was paid tot he workers who built them.

On the other hand, modern experiments in Egyptian-style embalming techniques (mummification), were rather successful due to Herodotus' descriptions of the process. In particular the tools used to cut open the body in preparation. And much of his writings are used as secondary sources to this day.


Quote:
Herodotus passes on reports from Phoenician sailors that, while circumnavigating Africa, they "saw the sun on the right side while sailing westwards".


North?

I'm certain they so claimed to Herodotus. Whether it was true is another question.

Phoenicians navigated far and wide through the Mediterranean sea, no question. They planted colonies as far as Spain. Some scholars believe they may have traded all the way north, by sea, to Britain and Germany, but the evidence is scant and circumstantial (mostly linguistic).

But keep in mind they were traders, not explorers. So why would they go around Africa?
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May 8th, 2017 at 9:59:29 AM permalink
Fleastiff
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
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Quote: Nareed
they were traders, not explorers. So why would they go around Africa?
Storms, unknown riches, a good crop year could send them further afield looking for buyers, conversations with their customers, other goods spotted in foreign lands?
May 8th, 2017 at 10:31:39 AM permalink
Ayecarumba
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: Nareed
...So why would they go around Africa?


Good Hope?
May 8th, 2017 at 10:58:33 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: Nareed
But keep in mind they were traders, not explorers. So why would they go around Africa?


Cádiz was founded in around 1104 BC by Phoenicians from Tyre,and is sometimes counted as the most ancient city still standing in Western Europe.
The expeditions of Himilco around Spain and France and of Hanno around Western Africa began here.

I was thinking it might be a good counterexample, as there was no one to trade with, but it seems Cadiz traded with Tartessos, a city-state whose exact location remains unknown but is thought to have been somewhere near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River.

It is estimated that in 500 BCE the population of Africa was 14 million, Europe was 16 million and Asia was 66 million. But there is little evidence that Europeans thought of any of these people as trading partners that far back in history. Egypt established the spice trade with India in the 2nd century AD.

Herodotus does tell a story set in 515 BC of the Greek explorer Scylax who went through Kabul and into Pakistan and sailed down the Indus river and the via a sea route across the Indian Ocean to Egypt. That would have been about 3500 miles round trip from Darius's capital city so it would have taken several years.
May 8th, 2017 at 11:36:08 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: Pacomartin
Cádiz was founded in around 1104 BC by Phoenicians from Tyre,and is sometimes counted as the most ancient city still standing in Western Europe.


You know there's a city named after Carthage in Spain and one in South America.

Quote:
It is estimated that in 500 BCE the population of Africa was 14 million, Europe was 16 million and Asia was 66 million. But there is little evidence that Europeans thought of any of these people as trading partners that far back in history.


Well, it varies. Romans traded with anyone, especially within their empire. African pottery, from North Africa, was very popular and can be found in Britain. North Africa, and Egypt in particular, was Rome's, and then Byzantium's, main source of grain for centuries. That's why losing much of North Africa to the Vandals was such a blow.

Romans also bought pepper and silk from Persian middlemen, and were aware of a great empire well to the east. Chinese traders were aware of a great empire well to the west. Neither ever met the other. There are anecdotes of Chinese traders looking to get to Rome, being told by Persian middlemen that it was very far away.

Alexander reached as far as India.
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May 8th, 2017 at 2:38:27 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: Nareed
Alexander reached as far as India.


Technically all of these people are after 600 BCE, and Rome was still pretty small at that time.

Quote: Wikipedia
The first circumnavigation of the African continent was probably made by Phoenician sailors, in an expedition commissioned by Egyptian pharaoh Necho II, in c. 600 BC and took three years. A report of this expedition is provided by Herodotus (4.37). They sailed south, rounded the Cape heading west, made their way north to the Mediterranean and then returned home. He states that they paused each year to sow and harvest grain. Herodotus himself is sceptical of the historicity of this feat, which would have taken place close about 120 years before his birth; however, the reason he gives for disbelieving the story is the sailors' reported claim that when they sailed along the southern coast of Africa, they found the Sun stood to their right, in the north; Herodotus, who was unaware of the spherical shape of the Earth found this impossible to believe. Some commentators took this circumstance as proof that the voyage is historical, but other scholars still dismiss the report as unlikely.


My brother mentioned another critical fact. The Phoenicians would have sailed around Africa clockwise instead of counterclockwise like the Portuguese. So huge hazards to navigation like Cape Bojador which sank every ship for a hundred years before 1434 would not have been a problem in a clockwise circumnavigation.

May 9th, 2017 at 2:36:26 AM permalink
odiousgambit
Member since: Oct 28, 2012
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Quote: Pacomartin
So huge hazards to navigation like Cape Bojador which sank every ship for a hundred years before 1434 would not have been a problem in a clockwise circumnavigation.


A one-way trip might have worked fine, but how do you get back?
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May 9th, 2017 at 5:41:39 AM permalink
Fleastiff
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
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Quote: Pacomartin
So huge hazards to navigation like Cape Bojador which sank every ship for a hundred years before 1434 would not have been a problem in a clockwise circumnavigation.
Why is that? Winds, seas, rocky shores would be the same wouldn't they?
May 9th, 2017 at 8:47:12 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 330
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Quote: Pacomartin
My brother mentioned another critical fact. The Phoenicians would have sailed around Africa clockwise instead of counterclockwise like the Portuguese.


I don't get it.

Phoenicia was in today's Lebanon, and Carthage, the other big Phoenician city state, was in today's Tunis. Both in the Mediterranean shores, without ready access to the Red Sea.

A Phoenician who wanted to go around Africa would sail west past the Strait of Gibraltar, then follow the coast which then turns south.

Assuming they wanted to set sail from the Red Sea, then out intrepid navigator would have to make an overland trip through the desert to Aqaba or Elat or the Sinai or Egypt, and build their ships there.

Lebanon was in ancient time the source of fine cedar wood. Just sayin'.
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May 9th, 2017 at 8:53:47 AM permalink
Fleastiff
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
Threads: 50
Posts: 5006
Why couldn't they use the Suez Canal?







Just kidding folks. However, do remember that North Africa and the Levant at that time were lush, verdant places and there were undoubtedly streams and rivers. Roadways probably existed due to constant caravan use. I don't think a trek to the Red Sea would have been an insurmountable undertaking. Certainly in comparison to later trade routes it would have been no obstacle at all.
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