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Beyond the Edge of the Sea

Sailing with Jason and the Argonauts, Ulysses, the Vikings, and Other Explorers of the Ancient World

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The story of Jason and the Argonauts and Homer's tales of Ulysses' wanderings are among the greatest of the ancient epics, but they are not merely fiction. Following the clues in the classical texts, Mauricio Obregón here maps the likely routes of these adventurers and reveals the remaining traces of the things and places they describe, re-creating the geographical discovery of the ancient world.

Obregón takes us with him on his reenactments of the hazardous adventures of Jason, sailing east along the coast of the Black Sea, and of Ulysses, sailing clockwise around the Mediterranean. These voyages map the two major seas of the ancient era and help us understand how the Greeks viewed their world — including the many startling deductions they were able to make about it (such as the circumference of the earth) from what today seems like limited knowledge.

Obregón has also traced the voyages depicted in the Norse legends, followed adventurous Muslims on southern journeys, and emulated the Polynesians who managed to traverse the seemingly limitless Pacific. He scrutinizes every detail of sailing in ancient times, such as the mechanics of navigation: The stars, for example, which the mariners took as their guides, were not in the positions that we see them in today, a crucial fact in re-creating past voyages.

This wonderful book contains more than forty drawings and photographs, including depictions of the explorers' ships based on the descriptions in the literature that has come down to us, the facts hidden in the fiction, from ancient times.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 01, 2001 – An experienced sailor, Obreg n (who before his death in 1998 was a member of Harvard's board of overseers) succeeded in his lifelong attempt to replicate, in detail, the journeys of some of the most daring, famous, even mythic voyagers and seafaring peoples of the past, including the Argonauts' expedition in search of the Golden Fleece, Odysseus' 10-year journey home after the Trojan War, the Vikings' visits to North America, the Muslims' voyages to the east and Polynesians' exploration of the Pacific. He based his voyages on geographical, meteorological and celestial information available in ancient accounts such as the Icelandic sagas. As he recounts what it was like to re-create these ancient itineraries, Obreg n comments not only on how the risks those sailors took opened up the world, but also on the types of ships and rigging they used, details of their navigational techniques and insight into their sophisticated understanding of the complexities of the varying winds coming from all four points of the globe. The book, although not scholarly (there are no footnotes and only a minimal bibliography), will appeal to professional historians precisely because Obreg n's conclusions, for the most part reasonable, are based on his own considerable experience traveling on the same, largely immutable waters as his subjects.
Beyond the Edge of the Sea
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: Jan 23, 2001
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 144 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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