The amazing adventures of Pytheas the Greek

Historian article

By Alf Wilkinson, published 19th August 2020

Pytheas the Greek

Alf Wilkinson explores the achievements of Pytheas, the first person, as far as we know, to sail completely around the British Isles in around 325 BC.

When we think of the Ancient Greeks we tend to think of warfare, drama, myths and legends, perhaps mathematics, medicine and science. What we don’t realise is that the Greeks were great sailors and traders. A shortage of good farming land, and a rapid increase in population in the Greek city-states, led to overseas expansion, the setting up of colonies and trading ports all around the Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts in the period between c. 800 BC and 400 BC. They also had a great interest in the world, and Anaximander, born about 610 BC, produced perhaps the first map showing the world according to the Greeks...

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