Iberia in the Greek Geographical Imagination

Javier Gómez Espelosín

in Colonial Encounters in Ancient Iberia

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226148472
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226148489 | DOI:
Iberia in the Greek Geographical Imagination

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)


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We know very little of actual experiences of geographical discovery achieved by the Greeks, or conveyed in some way to them by the real protagonists, during the Archaic period. Most of the fragmentary scraps available to us are of uncertain origin and have ended up being incorporated as mere allusions in Herodotus's work, such as the travel of the Samian merchant Colaeus (or Colaios) to Tartessos, the exploration of the Carian mariner Scylax and other unnamed travelers through the coastal lands of the Indian Ocean, or the voyage undertaken by an African tribe (the Nasamonians) from the vicinity of Cyrene to the hitherto unknown hinterland of that continent. This chapter undertakes an extensive textual analysis of ancient Greek perceptions of geography in order to understand the experience of early colonial traders and explorers who ventured to the shores of Iberia. It shows how, before the age of Strabo, Iberia was perceived through a cultural filter shaped by the combination of a hodological tradition of envisioning and navigating space and an imagined mythological landscape.

Keywords: geographical discovery; Greeks; Archaic period; Tartessos; geography; Iberia; mythological landscape; Herodotus; traders; explorers

Chapter.  7970 words. 

Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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