Voyagers from the ancient world
Hanno the Navigator
This Carthaginian explorer headed a fleet of ships which
left the Mediterranean and explored the northwest coast of Africa. A few
colonies were established on behalf of Carthage, which at the time was a
major power in the Mediterranean. En route, the expedition discovered
an island where the indigenous folk didn’t take too kindly to the
intrusion. According to Hanno, they were violent savages, but he then
casually notes skinning three captured females, which seems somewhat
Himilco the Navigator
Himilco was also a Carthaginian explorer, but unlike his
counterpart he sailed north instead of south, tracking the Atlantic
coastline of Europe as far as Albion, which is the earliest known name
of the British Isles. Very little is known of the man himself, or indeed
his voyage, only that he was probably trying to establish trading
posts, and that he returned with terrifying tales of sea monsters
encountered en route. There may have been some truth in this: have you
ever seen a giant squid?
Scylax of Caryanda
This Greek explorer is most famous for his 30-month voyage
in which he was responsible for discovering the course of the Indus
River. On the orders of Darius I, king of the Persian Empire, Scylax set
sail from a place called Gandhara (the northern-most part of modern-day
Pakistan) and followed the river to the Indian Ocean. From there, he
sailed west, eventually reaching the Red Sea, and then as far north as
Suez, at which point he doubled back for the return journey.
Nearchus was a prolific Greek explorer who worked for
Alexander the Great, who through a series of successful military
campaigns established one of the largest empires of the ancient world.
Among many other regions, Alexander conquered the northwest of the
Indian subcontinent, at which point he dispatched Nearchus down the
Indus River to explore. In the following months Nearchus and his men
would explore the Persian Gulf and be the first Greeks to visit Bahrain.
Eudoxus of Cyzicus
Eudoxus of Cyzicus was a Greek navigator who developed an
interest in Africa after being blown off course onto its east coast from
the Indian Ocean. He found the remains of a ship, which he believed had
originally come from the west, meaning it had attempted to
circumnavigate Africa. This inspired Eudoxus to try himself. Alas, he
never returned, and was never heard from again. 1500 years would pass
before anyone else attempted this extraordinary feat.
Hippalus was a Greek navigator and explorer who is best
known for his voyages from the Red Sea to the west coast of India across
the Indian Ocean. In completing these journeys, he deduced that the
Indian coastline ran from north to south – not, as everyone else in the
ancient world had presumed, west to east. This discovery by Hippalus
meant that the time it took seafaring travellers to reach India from the
Red Sea was dramtically reduced.