Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mount TBR #11

I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted over at My Reader’s Block from January 1 – December 31, 2017. The challenge is to read books that you already own.

The Ancient Explorers - M. Cary and E. H. Warmington

This 1929 book was republished by Penguin in 1963 in a pocket paperback for the interested thinking public and poor graduate students. It pulls together the observations and theories of ancient authorities and provides critical remarks on the views of both ancient and modern scholars, though not at great length. The main focus is on the actual adventures and routes followed by the ancient explorers.

Indeed, marvelous are the stories of Hanno the Carthaginian coasting down western Africa to Sierra Leone, Pytheas' voyage northward and his amazing tales, Diogenes and the Mountains of the Moon, Alexander's marches, and the agents of Maes Titianus journeying eastwards along the silk-routes.

Chapter 6 is an eye-opening look at the exploration of Europe by the Phoenicians and Greeks, as are the examinations of trips to Asia (chapter 7) and Africa (chapter 8.) Both authors taught at Oxford so it is definitely scholarly. The reader is presented with careful weighing of the historical grounds or evidence. I’m not a geographer or historian but I like to see a judicious, objective way of thinking of about what is possible versus what is probable. Perhaps I should note that there in nothing in this old book for folks that need more recent scholarly takes or Coast to Coast Insiders weighing the genetic proof that the pharaohs were hybrid aliens.

It’s a pleasure to read for the thinking lay audience that is interested in ancient exploration for commercial (for the luxuries of the orient), military and scientific purposes. Mercifully there is an index. The maps in this Penguin edition are very small and cramped, asking much of a brittle spine. Of a 50-year-old paperback a reader does not venture to demand of its spine what she would never require of her own middle-aged backbone.

No comments:

Post a Comment