This series examines ancient travel and discovery before 500 CE. It will chronicle actual voyages, focusing on the remarkable figures who braved the unknown, the objects of their journeys, and their crude equipment and knowledge.
Jan. 27: “The Earliest Known Expeditions” How did the ancients get from place to place and what did they know about the world around them? This session explores the earliest inventions in travel technology, geographical knowledge in ancient times, and some of our earliest accounts of ancient exploration. Join us as we recount the expeditions of the great Egyptian explorers Harkhuf, Nehesj, and Wenamun.
Feb. 3: “The North Atlantic and the Dark Continent” The Greeks, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians made great strides in exploration between the 8th and 4th centuries BCE. The renowned explorers Midacritus, Himilco, Sataspes, Hanno, and Pytheas will be discussed. We will also address the question: who was the first to circumnavigate Africa?
Feb. 10: “Expeditions East” Classical accounts of several expeditions into Asia, including those of Aristeas, Skylax, Xenophon, Nearchus, Patrocles, and Exdoxus will be discussed.
Feb. 17: “Roman and Asian Explorers” The final presentation in the series will be concerned with expeditions undertaken by the Romans, who attempted to find the source of the Nile as well as a sea passage to India. Then we will reorient ourselves to an eastern perspective and look at the great journeys of the Chinese explorers Zhang Qien and Faxian.