The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek Hardcover – 15 Oct 2001
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About the Author
Barry Cunliffe is Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford. His most recent book is FACING THE OCEAN: THE ATLANTIC AND ITS PEOPLES.
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Top Customer Reviews
In addition to the clarity of Cunliffe's writing, a special word should be said about the maps that grace the book. These maps complement the text perfectly, providing just enough detail to make sense of some of the geographical references referred to by the author. The maps are drawn in a deceptively simple style, complete with busy oceans, approximate coastlines, and relevant pictorial details in the corners. To indulge in the wilder flights of imagination Cunliffe warns against, the reader is tempted to imagine that Pytheas himself might have been able to recognise and make sense of these cartographical sketches.Read more ›
It is a book packed with facts and knowledge about northern Europe, trading, seafaring, travelling and navigation during the fourth century BC. But the best parts, in my opinion, are when Cunliffe seems to leave the facts behind and allows himself to speculate about where Pytheas might have landed, what he might have seen and done during his extraordinary voyage.
Pythias travelled around Brittany, across to Cornwall/Dorset and then circumnavigated Britain. There's strong evidence that he reached Iceland. On his way home he crossed the North Sea to the Netherlands. All the while he was making notes and more surprisingly measurements of the sun's shadows to calculate his latitude. His descriptions of places and his latitudinal calculations tally and add further evidence that this was a genuine account of a real voyage.
His book On the Ocean written in 320 BC has now been lost but as many as 18 ancient authors referred to it in their books. His book was obviously widely circulated.
Pythias's account must have caused some to doubt his honesty and startled many with his descriptions of lands well beyond most people's imaginations; an Iron Age Marco Polo.
Professor Barry Cunliffe has written a short and engaging account reconstructing Pythias's journey and setting it in its historical context. Professor Cunliffe's style is easy for a non-expert to read and his book gives a fascinating insight into the life of an adventurous traveller 2300 years ago.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The title of this book is not true to its content. A more accurate title would be something like "A tour of Europe in 300 BC". Read morePublished on 2 Aug. 2014 by Jacob la Cour
A well written book but as the source material is based on assumptions so is the book. Chinese whispers from a variety of (historians) copying each others material and then coupled... Read morePublished on 2 July 2014 by michael g. smith
Barry Cunliffe deserves praise for shining a light on a very early part of British history. It also helps roll-back the boundaries of what is "pre-history", before written... Read morePublished on 20 Dec. 2012 by Amazon Customer
Whilst the modern day assessment of the Pytheas story in Cary and Warmington's 1929 classic 'The Ancient Explorers' is unlikely to be modified significantly, Professor Cunliffe has... Read morePublished on 24 April 2010 by M. K. B.
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