Many yeas before the famous
explores from Spain and Portugal put out to sea in order to found
new places and new sources of wealth, Greeks motivated by their
restive spirit, curiosity and love for the adventure, as well as the
desire for military and economic power, explored at the beginning
the full with islands Aegean, later Black and Mediterranean Sea, and
finally the coasts of Atlantic and Indian Ocean.
Greeks had no possibilities to
farm their mountainous land. They only had to found new places to
live or to trade. As Greece is in the crossroad for Asia, Europe and
Africa they began to travel, trade and
The Greeks tradesmen were the
first genuine naval explorers of ancient world. The mythology of
Greece gives us the first systematic efforts for extensive
explorations. Hercules appears that was the first pedestrian
explorer, as he reached not only to Gibraltar (known also with the
name Hercules columns), but also to Northern Africa, seeking the
golden apples of Hesperides.
timeline that follows you can see,
with a chronological order,
the efforts of Greek explorers.
After 2500 bC
Earthen ship from Crete
Minoans started the first
contacts with Egypt and the coasts of
Tradesmen from Crete played serious role in the trade
the season of XII dynasty in Egypt (1999 - 1786 bC).
Eyimeros reports that
Cretes had been visited the island Pagchaia in Indian Ocean,
where they had build a temple, dedicated to Zeus.
India was for them the
longest destination and promised immense wealth. We have
more information about travels to Kyrini. Irodotos informs
us that the residents of Thira moved to Kyrinaiki.
Picture from a
(France 15th century) Click
and the most famous Greek ancient
heroes,Argonauts, collaborated in
a expedition, the first clean
expeditionary mission, seeking the Golden
modern interpreters attribute the aim of this expedition in
the hunting of gold, that existed in the rivers of
Kolchida, and precious
metals that abounded in the region of Black Sea. It was also
the first effort for the extension of Greek seces in
Northern Aegean and in Black sea.
1200 πΧ περίπου
about 485 bC)
The life of famous Odyssey gives the definition of the explorer.
Homer describes him as a wandering king how "saw
cities of many persons and it knew their thoughts. His name is synonym
of "traveller" in all almost his languages in the world.
"Odyssia", the epic poem who made his name
it is synonym to adventure and apart from the fact
that it's a fascinating
poem, still remains today a precious geographic source and
a driver of navigation in ancient world.
There is a theory who state that Odyssey is
nothing more than a synopsis of expeditionary travels in
the Mediterranean who took part the age of Homer.
650 - 630
Herodotus states that Gibraltar was discovered completely
accidentally by a tradesman from Samos, Coleus. During a
travel to Egypt, they met a storm and were drifted
powerful winds. When Coleus returned, described terrified
the 70m height waves that he faced.
Skylax from Greece was the first western geographer .
According to the Herodotus, Skylax (naval officer in
Persia), was sent by king Dario to explore the
estuaries of Indus river. Mission started from his sources,
in 510 BC. Initially they followed the flow of river through
mountains in Afghanistan until his exit in the Arabic
Continuing, Skylax followed the coast and explored the
gulf of Oman and the south-eastern side of the Arabic
Peninsula. In thirty months, the Greek officer
circumnavigated Saudi Arabia and reached
Mediterranean through the channels of Nile and isthmus of
He delivered to Darios records of his travel, a
chronicle with the title Periplus. Darios used these
precious information to conquer Indian and set
up naval bases and new harbours.
click to see a map
The first big step beyond and far from Mediterranean,
around in 300 p.H., was made by Pytheas, a Greek who was in
Marseille, seaman and geographer, and was engaged by the
tradesmen of Marseille in order to strengthen the
trade of tin, discovering new commercial streets,
competitive in those of Phoenicians.
According to the observations and calculations of Pytheas,
as long as was directed to the North so much bigger
became their days at summer months. He supported therefore
that in a very northern point of earth - ignoring the
existence of poles - sun, for certain days of year, didn't
decline at all.
Pytheas not only completed successfully his mission, but he
made also a tour of Britain and reached up to the
Scandinavian Peninsula. In his book "About Ocean"
the ancient geographer reported about an island, six
days distance from the northerner utmost current Scotland,
where the sun remains in the horizon an entire 24-hour
period. This place was known as Thouli. According to the
current researchers, Thouli was Iceland or
islands of Arctic Circle, named Faroes or Shetland islands.
A modern writer wrote: "If we made a list from five or six
famous explorers, Pytheas with the Magellan and the Kook
certainly will be found there.
Earth according to Herodotus
to see large image)
ancient Greek historian Herodotus was one more traveller of
his century. In his second and fourth book of History,
reported in first person his travelling experiences and with
pride describes cities who visited and persons who
knew in his travel.
Cicero named him "father of history". At the same time it
can be considered father of geography and precursor of all
Alexander the Great
Conquests of Alexander the Great extended the known world to
The ambitious Macedonian wished to enslave Asia and
annex to Greece, which was extended in all
During his expedition , and while went down pedestrian from
Indus river to the sea, about 325 bC, Nearhos, admiral
of Macedonian fleet, and Onisikratis, decided to
explore the aquatic streets. Nearhos followed Ydaspi river,
in Western India, to Persian gulf and then Efratis
river to Babylon . This way they established a new
commercial road between India and Mesopotamia.
The successful completion of this travel was greeted as one
of the bigger realisations of the Alexander's expedition,
although their ships needed ten months for a travel that
today becomes in few days. Entire the chronicle of travel is
included in the book Indian of historical Arrianos,
written about 2nd century aC.
Twenty years after Alexander's aggression to Indian
territories, and about 300 bC., Megasthenis from Ionia,
was sent in Indian empire of Kantra Gkoupta as ambassador of
king Selefkidis. During his abode there, he visited almost
all Northerner India, where he also stayed for a
little, and he also reached
In his effort to record the extent of country,
geographer Megasthenis reports that her width from
East to West was about 16.000 stages and her length from
North to South 22.300 stages (1 stage = 180 metres). He also
reported big rivers of country, as Ganges,
Indus, Ydaspis and the Yfasis, and also other 58 navigable
rivers in all the extent of country.
An other explorer of India appears to be Hippalus
After his study about monsoons dared to leave coast and
travel at straight line from the current Mpamp El Mantemp to
Indus. In honour of Hippalus this winds were taken his
continued explorations, but after
Turks, Greeks seamen began to leave for Western harbours.
Unfortunately the sources of that season give us very
poor information for Greek explorers. In English
and Spanish files for the 16th and 17th century are
reported often seamen with Greek names in responsible places that
were difficult given in foreigners. So
according to Kosmas
During Byzantine years Kosmas the Indicoplefstis (who
went to India) wrote a geography report with twelve books by
the title "Christian Typography".
In these books Kosmas irrelevantly his curious theories for
earth (at the Kosma' s theory Ground is level and surrounded
by ocean and after ocean there is Paradise; also in north
there is a tall mount and sun turns over it.) there
are important geographic material for the Red Sea, India,
Ceylon and places beyond them.
In Magellan's fleet who sealed about 1519 aC in
order to make a tour of the world, they appear to
serve at least nine Greeks. Between them are reported two
officers. Fragiskos Almpos or Kalmpos from Chios who also
kept a timetable of travel. Was the navigator of "Victoria",
the only from the five boats of Magellan that returned
in Spain after it made the tour of the world.
The second one was named Michael from Rhodes and was not
only honoured by the Spanish king with a title of politeness
for his services in the mission, but in 1526 was named
general navigator for the travel to Moloukes.
Fragiskos Pizarro who conquered Peru, also had a Cretan man
with t name Peter from Candia.
Greek naval named Theodore (without no other name), reached
in western coasts of Florida and as it is reported in the
chronicles, he was the first European who arrived America
and spread with liquid from pines the boats of Spanish
somewhere around Alabama.
A other famous navigator of Spanish boats was the
Apostles Valerianos known with the name Juan de Fuca.
He was on charge of mission for the exploration of the
narrow between north-western coast of America and
Vancouver of Canada. This place is known with his name.
Epaminondas Demopoulos well know with the name E.J.Demas,
took part in the expeditionary missions of Admiral Bird in
the Southern and Northern Pole. In his honour one Greek Flag
flew above the Southern Pole and a mountain range is named
He is the most recent and certainly no the last one in a big
line with Greek explorers.
Timeline by On Track team(2006)