Τετάρτη, 5 Ιουνίου 2013

Pytheas of Massalia: The First Scientific Explorer

 


Pytheas of Massalia (in ancient Greek Πυθέας Μασσαλιώτης) was a Greek geographer and explorer of the 4th century BC. Pytheas, who lived in the Greek colony of Marseilles, made an exploratory voyage to north-western Europe in 325 BC.
During his travels, he visited a considerable part of Great Britain and he was the first person recorded to have described the natural phenomenon of the Midnight Sun - the sun never sets during the summer north of the Arctic and South of the Antarctic.

Even though reports of the country of the Hyperborean’s (mythical people living in the far North) had reached the Mediterranean, Pytheas is the first known scientific visitor and reporter of the Arctic, the Polar ice, and the Germanic tribes. He is the one who introduced the idea of distant Thule to the geographic imagination – identified as modern-day Norway or Scandinavia.

His accounts of the tides - the earliest on record- ascribe their cause to the moon. Pytheas also wrote about his travels in a work that has not survived; only excerpts remain, quoted or paraphrased by later authors, most familiarly in Strabo's Geographica, Pliny's Natural History and in Diodorus Sicily's history.

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