Pytheas returned to Brittany and explored “beyond the Rhine”; he may have reached the Elbe.
At different times and in different places, different motives are dominant.
Sometimes one motive inspires the promoters of discovery, and another motive may inspire the individuals who carry out the search.
It later expanded again to include the far northern lands beyond the Baltic and another and dazzling civilization in the Far East (the medieval view).
The earliest known surviving map, dating probably from the time of ), shows canals or rivers—perhaps the Tigris and a tributary—and surrounding mountains.
He may have sailed around Britain; he describes it as a triangle and also relates that the inhabitants “harvest grain crops by cutting off the ears…and storing them in covered granges.” Around Thule, “the northernmost of the British Isles, six days sail from Britain,” there is “neither sea nor air but a mixture like sea-lung…binds everything together,” a reference perhaps to drift ice or dense sea fog.
Thule has been identified with Iceland (too far north), with Mainland island of the Shetland group (too far south), and perhaps, most plausibly, with Norway.
Herodotus tells of five young adventurers of the tribe of the Nasamones living on the desert edge of Cyrenaica in North Africa, who journeyed southwest for many months across the desert, reaching a great river flowing from west to east; this presumably was the Niger, although Herodotus thought it to be the Upper Nile.
with 60 ships and 30,000 colonists “to found cities.” Even allowing for a possible great exaggeration of numbers, this expedition, if it occurred, can hardly have been the first exploratory voyage along the coast of West Africa; indeed, Herodotus reports that Phoenicians circumnavigated the continent about 600 .
The first phase is the exploration of the Old World centred on the Mediterranean Sea, the second is the so-called Age of Discovery, during which, in the search for sea routes to Cathay (the name by which China was known to medieval Europe), a New World was found, and the third is the establishment of the political, social, and commercial relationships of the New World to the Old and the elucidation of the major physical features of the continental interiors—in short, the delineation of the modern world.
In the Iberian Peninsula the impetus of the counteroffensive against the Moors carried the Portuguese to probe the West African coastline and the Spanish to attempt the expulsion of Islam from the western Mediterranean. From the time of the earliest recorded history to the beginning of the 15th century, Western knowledge of the world widened from a river valley surrounded by mountains or desert (the views of Babylonia and Egypt) to a Mediterranean world with hinterlands extending from the Sahara to the Gobi Desert and from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean (the view of Greece and Rome).
Where he landed he found a wooden prow with a horse carved on it, and he was told by the Africans that it came from a wrecked ship of men from the west. Scylax traveled overland to the Kabul River, reached the Indus, followed it to the sea, sailed westward, and, passing by the Persian Gulf (which was already well known), explored the Red Sea, finally arriving at Arsinoë, near modern Suez.