Episode 6 – Early Hellenistic Exploration with the Pseudo-Skylax

In this episode, we look at the first decades of Hellenistic exploration in the North, South and West of the Mediterranean, from the northern Caspian sea to south Sudan. We revisit a few previously-mentioned locations, witness the precursors to the true establishment of the discipline of geography, and begin to envisage the idea that it might actually be possible to circumnavigate Africa (Libya)…


Episode 6: This is a 19th century facsimile of the surviving 13th century manuscript written by the Pseudo-Skylax. The original periplus was most likely written in the late 4th century BCE, probably at or near Athens.


Episode 6: Basic political geography of the early Hellenistic period. The yellow area represents the Seleukid Empire, while the blue area represents Ptolemaic Egypt.

Although I chose to steer clear of the many (and complicated!) political machinations of the era, the competition between the Seleukids and the Ptolemies drove much of the early Hellenistic exploration, particularly south, into Ethiopia.


Episode 6: Bronze Hellenistic statuette showing an African youth, probably an artisan. The Hellenistic period saw a gradual rise in the artistic representation of Africans in Greek works, probably through the greater contacts which the Greek world established with black Africans through their possession of Egypt, and possibly also denoting a greater integration of Africans into certain segments of Greek society.

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