Episode 2: The Voyage of Hanno the Navigator

In this episode, we explore the thrilling and terrifying journey of the Carthaginian explorer Hanno the Navigator south along the coast of West Africa, and examine the indirect way in which the details about his voyage have come down to us.


This map shows the likely route taken by Hanno as he sailed south towards Cameroon. Note the turn back that he tells us his fleet made after reaching the Senegal river. We can speculate that he might have been able to trade for gold with the tribes of Bambouk, and wanted to bring his valuable cargo to relative safety before venturing to explore further south.

palatinus graecus.jpg

This is the Palatinus Graecus 398, a 9th century Byzantine manuscript today located at the University of Heidelberg, in Germany, and is the oldest surviving account of Hanno’s journey that we have.

To get a picture of the historical distance involved between the Palatinus Graecus and Hanno’s voyage, try to imagine that some future civilization tried to reconstruct events surrounding the fall of Rome in the 5th century AD, and only had some 21st century texts to go from.

Episode 1: Necho II’s Expedition and the Early Mediterranean Explorers

We begin in 500 BCE in order to set the stage for the coming voyages of the early Mediterranean explorers, as well as take a look at Necho II’s reported expedition to circumnagivate Africa.


A statue of Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II, who launched the Phoenician expedition to circumnavigate Libya (Africa).

world map

This is Anaximander’s world map, showing the 3 continents and the “outer ocean” which he believed encircled the world until it reached the void. Anaximander believed the world was slightly concave, like the shape of a contact lens.


This is a highly speculative rendering of Necho II’s possible Africa expedition. We should note here that Punt is placed significantly farther south than most historians place it, and that the map-maker has placed the location of the Phoenicians’ first major halt at Saint Helena Bay.