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Some other views[edit]

from article, left by User: Should be checked for accuracy and incorporated if necessary. —Charles P. (Mirv) 06:00, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Rather than editing wholesale the above I would like to give a slightly different and less certain story line. First and foremost we do not know exactly when Pytheas lived. The later 4th Century BC is for certain but 380-310 BC is only a guess based on nothing at all.

Fixed. There is a little something.Dave (talk) 02:54, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

There is no certainty about Pytheas discovering the midnight sun, polar ice or the aurora. He certainly discovered the British Isles, and commented on the tides, although we do not know whether this was in Iberia (Spain) or the British Isles.

I suppose that depends on what you mean by "discover." For example, the long multilog over the dicovery of America. Why did anyone need to discover it? The natives knew where it was all along. For the tides, Britain is mentioned.Dave (talk) 02:54, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Apart from About the Ocean he seems to have made another work, Periodos ghs, About the Earth.

That is addressed now. By the way your edit box has long e's.Dave (talk) 02:54, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

The quote from Strabo above is somewhat less strange than it seems at first. It rather refers to the appearance of the sea as a lung, breathing, a concept well known in Greek science from the 6th Century BC.

Never guess, my friend. When in doubt leave it out. No such concept was known at all and the professionals state very clearly what the lungs were. They are the ones who do the translating and annotating.Dave (talk) 02:54, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

It is possibly but not necessarily about the Polar Sea. In many respects, especially the general context of Pytheas' journey, it would fit better with the tidal waters on the Dutch, German and Danish coasts known as the Wattensee.

Sorry, north from Thule is the Polar Sea. We can't just make it up.Dave (talk) 02:54, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

The land described as agricultural is in "the chilly zone", not necessarily Thule. Actuially the description and especially the mentioned plants fit better with northwestern Jutland.

No, no no. I know this is going to hurt but you really need to do your homework before taking up your pen to contribute. If you haven't checked it out do not committ yourself in public (and a large public too). Don't believe it yourself either without evidence. Why Jutland? You could have said anywhere from Britain to Japan.Dave (talk) 02:54, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Abalus is also probably not Helgoland but somewhere in northwestern Denmark.

When in doubt check it out. No evidence no speculate.Dave (talk) 02:54, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

That he visited the Baltic has interestingly become more likely lately. Danish researchers have dated a meteoritic crater to 400/370 BC, placed on Saaremaa. This may be the place where the sun went to bed according to Pytheas.

Your logic needs a workout. Keep at it. The next step would be to check out all the sources on the sun going to bed. What is meant by that? Anyway I saw Saaremaa under Thule, where I think I will go next.Dave (talk) 02:54, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
According to a theory first proposed by Lennart Meri, it is possible that Saaremaa was the legendary Ultima Thule, first mentioned by ancient Greek geographer Pytheas, whereas the name "Thule" could have been connected to the Estonian language word tule ("(of) fire") and the old folk poetry of Estonia, which depicts the birth of the crater lake in Kaali, Saaremaa. Cheers,--3 Löwi 20:04, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Better late than never. These are good issues that need to be addressed in the asticle. The original author obviously just put them in there off the top of his head from his own knowledge but I can say that he knew something. Too bad he didn;t do the referencing work. Some of those issues have been answered and some in the article but some are still unsolved. Well, we have plenty of critics and lots of off-the-top knowledge but to get someone to do the work, why that is another thing. I am doing some work (some) and I definitely will keep this previous article in mind as I Google hither thither and yon.Dave (talk) 16:13, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

The problem with the "Wikipedia" article[edit]

Hi, people. By now everyone interested in Pytheas has seen the problem. It is a good article, no doubt. But, it is far from being the last word on Pytheas and his voyage of exploration; moreover, it represents only one point of view. The trouble is, it is copied from the Internet with permission. As soon as anyone edits it, it is not the same article and the same permissions may not apply. But, how can anyone make it better or add to it or provide ancient sources or do anything at all without editing it? That's the problem. We read that Pytheas probably didn't enter the Baltic. He probably did. We get some minimal identifications of lands he encountered, one of which is Helgoland. Others views are possible and there are other identifications to be made. As for Thule, its location has been batted about for quite a long time with no resolution.

In summary this article is like those in the Encyclopedia Britannica, it represents one point of view and can't be changed. It doesn't seem to me that is Wikipedia-like. First we quote an article entire and then we link to it.

Anyway, there is it. Anyone got any thoughts or suggestions? As it stands now, I'd have to put Pytheas material in other articles.Dave 16:39, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

No, you are wrong, if the author agrees to putting it here, he also agrees to use under gfdl - so just go ahead and change away --Echosmoke 01:45, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
Revisit - whew, so much time goes by so fast. OK echosmoke (wherever you are)! The article now has changed a lot. I'm going to change it a little more, mainly in the direction of supporting what is said. That link now to Andre Engels - Hello Andre, no offense - seems irrelevant. It should be here noted that Andre gives permission if you want to use his words. I'm going to change the link into an ordinary one. Even if he gives us permission to plagiarize him I do not think we should. We can always quote. I notice he has a few awards and that helps. But if anyone wants to reinstitute his offer for any paragraphs, I think a footnote stating that Andre gives permission is the best way to go. Best wishes.Dave (talk) 03:47, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

British Isles[edit]

The article states: He is quoted as referring to the British Isles as the "Isles of the Pretani." There's some confusion at Talk:British Isles over the origin of that term, and whether it always included Ireland. Nobody has been able to supply a reference for Pytheas' coining (or alleged coining) of the term. As far as I can see, he is supposed to have referred to Ireland separately, and that otherwise he's referring, at most, to the islands inhabited by the Pretani. I suspect a form of begging the question is at play here. Anyone like to step up?

Regardless, the term used makes it pretty clear that his tin land was some part or the whole of the British Isles, not Spain. And that again shifts the balance of evidence to him taking the land way to NW France, not the sea way. One cannot know for sure, but it agrees with the apparent lack of data ion Iberia gained from Pythias (Iberia would have been economically about as interesting to visit as the British Isles given the original task he set out with). (talk) 01:23, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Nice article, by the way. Could do with illustrations. I don't really see the difficulties over editing caused by the with-permission use of original material from another website.--Shtove 16:00, 10 October 2006 (UTC)


Tin was probably obtained from Devon as well as Cornwall, as in Medieval times. There is evidence of tin trading from Mount Batten near Plymouth, Devon in early times. David horsey 16:18, 28 November 2006 (UTC)


Anything we know is claims of pytheas and claims of others about pytheas. As such only they should be portrayed unless its circumstancial, then we should use "it is therefore plausible to assume..." and such. Anything else is POV! --Echosmoke 01:49, 19 December 2006 (UTC)


The article says Original material copied from this page (with permission) -- and the page is a computer student's personal website, so not a reliable source for the content or as an external link. There are paragraphs like: "Pytheas was not the first person to sail up into the North Sea territories and around Great Britain. Trade between Gaul and Great Britain was routine; fishermen and others would travel to Orkney, Norway or Shetland. The Roman Avienus writing in the 4th century mentions an early Greek voyage, possibly from the 6th century BC. A recent conjectural reconstruction of the journey Pytheas documented has him traveling from Marseille in succession to Bordeaux, Nantes, Land's End, Plymouth, the Isle of Man, Outer Hebrides, Orkney, Iceland, Great Britain's east coast, Kent, Helgoland, returning finally to Marseille." Who else sailed around Britain? Source? Source for the conjectural reconstruction? Further down, sources for speculation on Thule? Pancake Ice? Who are the 'some historians' mentioned? I suspect the books and articles have answers to most of these questions. :-) Meanwhile, shouldn't it have some tags?Doug Weller (talk) 19:16, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

"Fix it, don't tag it." That's always good advice.--Wetman (talk) 00:01, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure. Until it's fixed, I think a warning that the accuracy of an article is disputed is appropriate and could be seen as an almost necessary service for readers. A fast fix means just deletion of the offending parts if you don't immediately have access to resources to improve it otherwise.Doug Weller (talk) 14:36, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
I think you are both right there. A tag is a way of saying "let someone else fix it." But if you are not going to and no one else is going to the reader should be tipped off! And then you get these recalcitrant people who, as soon as you start to fix it, change it all back! I'm not going to name any names. Even if you do put a tag on, some people will take it off! If you ask for discussion, they won't discuss, if you want reasons, they won't give you any. Why, I've been accused of vandalism for putting tags on articles that were dead wrong and I tried to change but had all the changes reverted! Anyway it seems to be a judgement call. Nothing wrong with unobtrusive tags to warn the reader, but give us a break, do some work. On this article, it was terrible but now it isn't bad at all. The first paragraph is really interesting and mainly true. Things really do get fixed here. It needs notes for verifications but as far as I can see most of the info is verifiable. I'll do a little work and then move on. I don't think it needs a tag but if you really want a few requests for sources might be relevant.Dave (talk) 04:11, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Sentence removed from intro[edit]

He may have been the first Mediterranean observer to distinguish between the Germanic and Celtic "barbarian" peoples of northern and western Europe.[1]

I removed this because it repeats what has just been said about Pytheas being the first to use the term Germanic. As far as his making any other distinction between the Celts and the Germans (say, linguistically), no, that isn't in it. I have Todd open in front of me here, page 2, and nothing of the sort is to be found there. Todd only implies the same thing, that Pytheas used a different name for the Germans. Therefore since this sentence only repeats what was just said and introduces a spurious reference I am removing it. Now, don't think I am not sympathetic! Actually you are touching on a rather large issue - where did the early Celts end and the early Germans begin? There were Celtic tribes of Germanic names and Germanic tribes of Celtic names and unfortunately the tribesmen are just beyond the reach of recorded history. Naturally we would all like to know where the line was drawn at the edge of history but this is not something you or anyone can handle in one sentence in an article on Pytheas. About the best you can say of Pytheas is that his work is the first surviving one to mention the Germans and that was said.Dave (talk) 12:51, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Replacement of detail[edit]

Although the article starts well I'm finding a lot of the detail is wrong. For example, Britannia was the name of the whole island, where the cuithri (Britanni), later the Picts, resided, not just in Cornwall. In fact later they are associated with what became Scotland. Strabo makes it clear Pytheas went around or on the entire place except for inaccessible parts. What seems to be happening is, web sites represent their author's hasty judgements about details they have no intention of looking up and Wikipedia authors use these web sites. So, since I am looking these things up now I will gradually replace a lot of it. Some of the very best geographers and explorers have taken a great interest in Pytheas abd have written about him. So bear with me for a bit. Right now I'm trying to find the 2.5 % error margin. It sure is not in Strabo, who relates a 200% error. At the moment both rates appear there but I can't do everything instantaneously.Dave (talk) 10:57, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Latitude by the declination of the North Pole[edit]

The only passage I know where Pytheas seems to measure latitude by the declination of the North Pole, is Strabo II 5, 8:

"Now Pytheas of Massilia tells us that Thule, the most northerly of the Britannic Islands, is farthest north, and that there the circle of the summer tropic is the same as the arctic circle."

However, since nobody else reports this fact, and since everywhere else Pytheas is reported as having said that in Thule on the day of the summer solstice the sun doesn't set, I suspect that Strabo or his direct source may have simply 'translated' Pytheas' observation into astronomical jargon: the 'circle of the summer tropic' is the circle that marks the sun's most northerly position which it reaches on the day of the summer solstice; the 'arctic circle' in ancient times meant the circle that comprises that portion of the sky which is forever above the horizon (to a local observer). When the summer tropic coincides with the arctic this means that the sun at its most northerly position (i.e. at the time of the summer solstice) comes just within the circle of stars that are forever above the horizon, and when this happens, the sun too remains above the horizon for some time, and so fails to set for one night. If this interpretation of Strabo's report is true, Pytheas never actually measured the declination of the North Pole in Thule, but only provided the data from which it might be calculatated. --Fabullus (talk) 11:01, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

Hello there Fabullus. You figured the arctic circle out, I see. It took me some days of hunting in Strabo and drawing diagrams to get it. Good slueth work; however, excuse me if I say that I think you miss the point: how did Pytheas know that he was at the Arctic Circle? The only way he could have known he was there is to measure the angle! The 66 deg. for which he was looking was already known but even if you say it was not how could he come up with it without measurement of stellar angles? Unfortunately the lines on maps don't favor us by occurring on actual territory. For the rest of it, there are many indications in Strabo that measuring the angle of the pole was a standard method of finding latitude. As far as that occurring once in Pytheas is concerned, almost nothing of what he wrote survived, so one would not expect to be so lucky as to find a second such reference. As far as Pytheas providing the data without the measurement, what data would that be and how on earth could he provide it without measurement? The angle is the data, there is no other. It all boils down to a simple bottom line: either you believe Pytheas was there, which he could only know by reading the angle (in tangent form), or you think with Strabo that he made it up. If he did not verify that he was at the circle, which he could only do with his gnomon, then he was only guessing and we would have to say that he made it up. We should then be talking about the great prevaricator uncovered by Strabo. In summary, no angle, no arctic location (and no voyage of exploration by this penurious professional liar)Dave (talk) 03:55, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Hi Dave, you don't need to know the exact polar angle to be able to observe that the sun fails to set for exactly one night. I am inclined to think, however, that he did not even observe this for himself, for Geminus Isagoge VI p.170, 20 (Manit.) reports:

"Pytheas states in the account of his Ocean voyage: the barbarians showed us where the sun set. ... For in these parts it happened that the night was quite short, for some people 2 hours for others 3, so that the sun having set would rise again after a short interval."

If Pytheas knows from hearsay only that there are places where the night lasts only 3 or 2 hours, it seems reasonable that his report on a place where the night lasts 0 hours is based on hearsay as well. Ergo: he did not visit Thule himself, but was told about it, an what he reports allows us to infer that it must be at 66 deg. even though (as I suspect) he did not report the angle. --Fabullus (talk) 19:48, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Hello Fabullus. Nice shot, much better. But since you have thought more about it the argument really is coming down on classical lines, isn't it? You playing the Strabonian advocate and I the Pythean; that is, what you are really saying is, the testimony of Pytheas is not to be trusted, that when he said he arrived at the Arctic Circle (the conjunction of the celestial circle with the celestial summer tropic) he did not tell the truth.
I will deal with this in a moment but, excuse me, you still don't have it quite right! I mean, you are right, but you don't interpret it right. Of course Pytheas was not there on the solstice or anywhere else on the solstice as far as we know except Marseille, where he used the solstice to take the latitude of Marseille. There is only no night on the solstice (except at the pole). As you say the fact that north of the arctic circle the night lasted 2 to 3 hours absolutely proves he was not there on the solstice. The confusion you seem to have is a kind of anachronism. You seem to think Pytheas defined the Arctic. It was already well-defined and known long before Pytheas. The zones were already defined and the location of the circle was known and it was known that on the solstice of such a place the night was missing! That is part of the definition of the arctic circle. It follows from the earth being spherical and the path of the sun not being parallel to the path of the stars. The Ionian Greeks already knew all that, and they had got it from further inland, Babylonia. The Babylonians already knew about the Zodiac and the ecliptic defining it. So, Pytheas did not invent a thing there and no one claims he does. When they say he "discovered" the arctic they mean he was the first known scientist to be on it. He did not devise, create or in any way invent the concept. I think you would do well to read the section on Strabo I cited that deals with the definition of the zones. No, Pytheas was not trying to verify or discover the concept in any way, he was only trying to get past it into the frigid zone, the extremes of the earth. When he did that he found the edge of pack ice about where it should have been.
Now, for the angle, if Hipparchus was the first to use the full 360 deg circle on the earth, as Strabo says, then Pytheas could not have known the number of degrees. He must have been using the tangents as at Marseille. The literature suggests at various places that Hipparchus used some of Pytheas' tangents. He did not, however, and I emphasize did not, use information from Pytheas' voyage for the location of the Arctic Circle. Strabo says pretty clearly that that information was taken from knowledge of Scythia, just to the north of Ionia. The 66 degrees you know is only 90-24 and it was the 24, the location of the summer tropic (Tropic of Cancer) that was that was determined around the Black Sea. Pytheas went there too and it is possible that he took some tangents there, but no one says that. Strabo gives us to believe it was a proportion: two astonomical cubits is to the distance from the equator to the pole as x degrees is to 90. The two cubits was calculated in a known and well-travelled region, the Black Sea. If you want to follow it down I suggest in the Loeb Strabo the last three pages of Volume I with the notes.
So, Pytheas was only using well-known Ionian technology to try and find a latitude that he knew existed and he already knew what astronomical circumstances he would find there. He wanted to see who was there and what kind of country, which he reported in the log and it happened to survive. That is one possibility. That one requires him to measure the angle, which he could do and had done elsewhere. The second possibility is as you and Strabo say, he never went there but fudged something up out of hearsay. What is it going to be? If as you and Strabo say then anything goes and you can put the jellyfish effect wherever you like, on top of your house if you wish. Trying to guess where a liar gets his tall tales is a pretty elusive game and not an encyclopedic one. Similarly who are you or we to guess how false are his lies? Well, anything goes and anything has gone in this article. One fellow suggested Pytheas got his knowledge from a trip down the Rhone. Why not up the Mississipi if we are plucking suggestions out of thin air? I want to see a monument saying Pytheas discovered Boston, Massachusetts and the jellyfish are really the sewage from Deer Island treatment plant. Walking on some of the beaches around here I am not sure but that would not be a good suggestion, or else the jellyfish are the crude dumped from ships.
Pytheas has more credibility than not. Of course it is possible to point out that he may have lied. Anyone can lie. We do present Strabo's view in the article but the view I am taking is mainstream, that Pytheas was on the level and knew more than Strabo about some things. I think that is democratic procedure, to adopt the majority view and protect the minority one. Unless there is some reason to doubt Pytheas then we should accept him as probably true. There is reason to doubt some of his distances but on the whole he seems to be fairly credible. Sorry for this incredibly long-winded message but it presents the main issue regarding Pytheas and I have no doubt many persons will be having questions about it. Best wishes. I need some of my time to work on the article now.Dave (talk) 00:55, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Hi Dave, I think you misjudge me. I admire Pytheas as much as you do, and I would never call him a liar.

It wouldn't be so bad if you did but I think Strabo took the easy way out.Dave (talk) 03:35, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

I just urge you to be cautious when ascribing things to him (just as when you ascribe claims and motives to me).

Certainly, I take your advice to heart.Dave (talk) 03:35, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Pytheas could have discovered that Thule lies on the terrestrial arctic circle in two ways: either (1) he actually measured the altitude (as an angle or a tangent: this makes no difference to the argument) of the celestial north pole (for which we have no testimony),

that's trueDave (talk) 03:35, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

or (2) he established that the sun fails to set there for exactly one night (for which we do have ancient tesimony).

What testimony? I could only find Strabo saying that on the Arctic Circle a night gets missed. He didn't associate it with Thule or Pytheas. Have you got a ref?Dave (talk) 03:35, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I am ashamed to admit that I have found only one explicit though confused testimony of this fact. The source is Pliny NH II (77) 186-7:
'… during the solstitial period, as the sun approaches to the pole of the world, and his orbit is contracted, the parts of the earth that lie below him have a day of six months long [sic!], and a night of equal length when he is removed to the south pole. Pytheas, of Marseilles, informs us, that this is the case in the island of Thule, which is six days' sail from the north of Britain.'
Pliny seems to be saying that the entire arctic region has a day of six months and a night of the same length, whereas this is only true on the exact geographical north pole and certainly not on the geographical arctic circle, and he seems to ascribe this confused statement to Pytheas. Later, however, he corrects this statement, when, apparently referring back to the above passage, but without mentioning Pytheas, he writes (NH IV (30) 104):
'The most remote of all that we find mentioned is Thule, in which, as we have previously stated, there is no night at the summer solstice, when the sun is passing through the sign of Cancer, while on the other hand at the winter solstice there is no day. Some writers are of opinion that this state of things lasts for six whole months together.'
This time he gets the facts right, attributing the misunderstanding to 'some writers'. Although he does not say so explicitly it is likely that Pytheas reported the correct facts, which would agree very well with Strabo’s and Geminus’s reports (see above). --Fabullus (talk) 18:37, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

If the second scenario is correct then there are again two possibilities: either (a) he observed this fact for himself, which would require for him to have been on Thule on the exact day of the summer solstice,

Ok he wasn't thereDave (talk) 03:35, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

or (b) he simply reported what the locals told him. That b is the correct answer is suggested by Geminus' testimony (quoted above), which may well be the only extant verbatim quotation of Pytheas' work, which tells us that for very similar observations Pytheas relied on reports by natives too. What distinguishes Pytheas from the natives whose observations he reported, is that he would have had the intellectual framework to interpret these observations: that the earth is a sphere, and that latitude can be defined by the maximum local daylength. --Fabullus (talk) 18:11, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

OK, why don't you write it up? We agree on the main points, he was there and it was Thule and he knew it was on the Arctic Circle. Now, you want to examine how he knew. What I said was one possibility and now you are explaining this other possibility, etc etc. If you could give ample refs I would appreciate that. The main problem with the article before I started in was it said a lot of generalities with no explanations and no cites, so you couldn't really understand just what was being said. It was one of those bits or prose which you read and then say, what on earth did I just read? If it seems unclear I will ask for a ref. I myself think it was gnomon because he is said to have given the locations of a lot of places. I'll be going on for a bit here until all the generalities are pinned down or eliminated and the article actually says something. Sometimes Wikipedia articles don't say anything. it is very frustrating. You try to remember what was said but you can't because nothing was said. I'm going to look at this tin business next. It seems to be based on the assumption that Diodorus based his writing on Pytheas but this has to be said and I'm trying to find who said it. Ciao.Dave (talk) 03:35, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Wadden Sea[edit]

Removed this:

Alternatively - it is not clear how precisely "those places" are related to the "waters around Thule" - the description would fit with the Wadden Sea, a phenomenon Pytheas subsequently encountered and which also must have been entirely new to him.

Pytheas encountered phenomenon north of Thule; that is, north of the Arctic circle, so it can't be the Wadden Sea. I'm sure there are many places in different climates that could be described in this way but the key to meaning is the location north in the arctic. Otherwise it could be anything. It is clear how the places are related to Thule; they are north. And, you did not cite a source for this Wadden-Sea theory. Your opinion?Dave (talk) 03:18, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Removed unsupported suspicious generalities[edit]

Pytheas' story is geographically plausible. He estimated the circumference of Great Britain within 2.5% of modern estimates, and determined latitude by the length of the shadow of the upright index of a sundial.[2] He also understood the relationships between tides and phases of the Moon. In northern Spain, he studied the tides, and may have discovered that they are caused by the Moon. This discovery was known to Posidonius.

There are no cites for this. We need to know what modern estimates as the circumference depends on where you take it. The coast of Britain is complex. See latest changes to article by me. The gnomon is now covered in a separate section. He did not understand the moon - high tide does not correspond to the full moon. This will be covered when I get to it. The next paragraph I fear is equally general and unsupported but I can only do one thing at a time.Dave (talk) 03:09, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Aurora out[edit]

There simply is no evidence that Pytheas reported on the Aurora Borealis. The story apparently originated with a statement in Tacitus that in the Baltic the heads of the gods are visible and the light emanating from their heads. One might make a case on such a statement except that there is no evidence anywhere to connect Tacitus with Pytheas. Tacitus says a great many things. He never gives any sources. We cannot pick and choose what we would like Pytheas to have said based on what Tacitus said. Those secondary sources that make the aurora assertion never cite any sources either. You can say Pytheas said anything and without evidence who's to know the difference. We ARE aiming at knowledge here not just at the opinions of whoever has the money to publish a book. An encyclopedia that has no regard for whether something is true is compelely worthless; in fact it is misleading and dangerous. I am going to give Wikipedia the benefit of the doubt and take out the aurora reference. In its place I will put a reference to the tides, which is supported and is not in the list of the intro. Let us say, the current Aurora statement is unsupported. I or anyone could easily support it but not with a balanced and accurate source. Show me one and I will investigate.Dave (talk) 21:19, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

More or less done[edit]

Well I took the invitation to get back into the article and got back in. I was able to ferret out some detail. This should clear up reams of Internet confusion. It is so long because there is so much speculation. I can't get much longer without doing a monograph. If you want to offload any into new articles go ahead. Everywhere you read on the topic of early exploration Pytheas plays a leading part so my judgement is he is important. What do we know about him? I hope I have got you started on some answers. I'm going on now. There may be a few errors, the notes could be better, maybe there are some articles I missed. See you around the farm. You can always get me by message.Dave (talk) 03:05, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

NEW source: You might add this to the list of literature: Cunliffe, Barry: The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek. Walker and Company. New York. 2001. Jan Eskildsen87.57.198.236 (talk) 18:47, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

Nonsensical section[edit]


Pliny says that Timaeus (born about 350 BC) believed Pytheas' story of the discovery of amber.[2] Strabo says that Dicaearchus (died about 285 BC) did not trust the stories of Pytheas.[3] That is all the information that survives concerning the date of Pytheas' voyage. Presuming that Timaeus would not have written until after he was 20 years old at about 330 BC and Dicaearchus would have needed time to write his most mature work, after 300 BC, there is no reason not to accept Tozer's window of 330 BC – 300 BC for the voyage.[4] Some would give Timaeus an extra 5 years, bringing the voyage down to 325 BC at earliest. There is no further evidence.

If one presumes that Pytheas would not have written prior to being 20 years old, he would have been a contemporary and competitor of Timaeus and Dicaearchus. As they read his writings he must have written toward the earlier years of the window."

The above seems like nonsense. Pliny says Timaeus had something to say about Pytheas trip, therefore Pytheas must have travelled before Timaeus was writing. Strabo says that Dicearchus had something to say about Pytheas trip, therefore Pytheas must have travelled before Dichearchus wrote about him. Pytheas must have travelled before either Timaeus or Dicearchus wrote about him. By what deformed logic does this get converted into a presumption that Pytheas must have travelled between ( and not before ), the apparent writing dates of Timaeus and Dicaearchus ?Eregli bob (talk) 19:34, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

More nonsense[edit]

"The maximum tidal rise in the Wash, where the tides are highest, is 6.8 metres (22 ft)" Umm no. The tides in the Bristol Channel are at least double the amplitude of the tides at the Wash.Eregli bob (talk) 20:08, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

It would have been best if you could have given me a source, but I will look into it. Also, you have not established that any of this is nonsense. I recognize however that it is the custom of the common people to call everyone a fool and dismiss everything as foolishness. Everyone is wrong but you, right? I've done my share of that myself, unfortunately.Dave (talk) 11:51, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm working on it. I see one has to distinguish between the amplitude of the waves influenced by tides and the tidal rise. The latter is not a wave, it is a periodic movement of the shoreline. Also we are missing the concept of a difference in sea level, which is not a wave. There are tidal waves, but they are not the same as the tidal rise (or fall) and are only loosely connected.Dave (talk) 15:09, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
All right. I found a scientific site that seems to be adequate. I'm surprised no one requested a reference on those statements. It needs one. You're right about the "Bristol Channel" except the tidal gauges are placed in the Severn Estuary, at the end of the Bristol Channel. There is a language of graphical periodicity in use on the site. It has nothing to do with water waves. It refers to the rises and fall over time. The mathematical model uses a cosine wave with harmonics for prediction. I don't want to get into that. I only want to show that modern tides are pretty far from Pytheas' estimate. I draw no conclusions from it. Once you have that knowledge it is up to you how you want to use it. My site says the mean predicted tidal rise at Avonmouth is 6.955 m. The spring tides are about double that, the highest being 14.65. There is a whole lot of theory on what the datum base line is or was, whatever. These are not the topic of the article. I'm going to round off to about 7 and about 14 and make a few statements about relevance to ancient tides. The wash is out in the wash. Thank you for your information. I'm sorry you had to endure our WP bull... about it. It is sort of endemic to democratic method, I think. That is why most scholars are not democratic, I think. In a way I don't blame them.Dave (talk) 07:32, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Ictis is where ?[edit]

Ictis is near the mouth of the Loire.... You can transport tin by wagon from Cornwall to Ictis at low tide... what the ! Who is making this up? Eregli bob (talk) 20:13, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

More information here: ICTIS DISENTANGLED, AND THE BRITISH TIN TRADE ( —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:21, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

Well, the ancients are making this up. Your problem is with them, not with me or WP. It often happens that ancient testimony (or any testimony) is contradictory, often grossly so. This is what classical scholars spend their time doing! That is why archaeologists are so much in favor by law-enforcement and intelligence organizations. They figure things out. First you train a man to figure things out. Then you say, hey this man is dangerous, he figures things out! If it were war-time, you would say, better shoot this man. Anyway, what are we here to figure out? Certainly not the true nature of Ictis/Mictis/Corbulo. That is a topic all by itself, not covered by this article. We're only figuring out that Diodorus was relying of the work of Pytheas ultimately. It does not really matter what Ictis was. Who cares? Some frustrated person - was that you? messed up the whole argument by adding a statement with a phony source, which I removed. Your problem is, you expect too much, and expect it from the wrong people. The argument only covers the association, not the location of Ictis. In classics you have to live with these contradictions until someone does an article to clarify it, which this is not. Beyond the scope, etc.Dave (talk) 03:10, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

Discovery of Thule[edit]

This section is a bit of a mess and quite confusing and I don't even know how the hell Estonia just pops up out of nowhere, it is rather confusing how the article is talking about the North Sea, Norway and Normandy and then suddenly, bam! Estonia and Kiev out of nowhere. It really is rather 'wtf'. Rest of the article is pretty cool, just this one section needs reworking. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:13, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

removed statements:
"-File:Kaali kraater 2006.jpg|thumb|Kaali crater in Saaremaa, Estonia.--
According to a theory first proposed by Lennart Meri, it is possible that Thule island is Saaremaa, whereas the name "Thule" could have been connected to the Estonian word tule ("(of) fire") and the folklore of Estonia, which depicts the birth of the Kaali crater. Kaali was considered the place where "The sun went to rest."[3]"
I verify that this interjection was thrown into the middle of the argument, rendering much of the section incomprehensible. Please. The effort was good faith I am sure. The editor wanted to present an argument that Thule was in Estonia. Let me preface the theory by saying that there a lots of far-fetched theories on the location of Thule. They are far-fetched because they ignore the account of Pytheas. I originally thought it best not to get started on these theories. The account in this article sticks pretty close to Pytheas. "Theories on the location of Thule" is getting to be a pretty big topic. I would ask that the editor start a new article of that or similar name and develop this Finland theory there. You can;t just stick it in the middle of a train of reasoning here. At very least you would have to develop the topic at the end of the section, but as soon as you do that, you are going to be into the ins and outs of non-mainstream theories of Thule. What makes this theory non-mainstream is that it presumes Pytheas did NOT turn back at the limit of the Cymri. Apparently he skipped entirely over Frisches Haff, missed the Goths, missed the Balts, and ended up in Estonia, where unfortunately he missed the Estonians also. They would have been under the Fenni, an unlikely possibility. Oh by the way, there is no page number on the reference. It appears to be a book in Estonian. A book in a foreign language without a page number is not an adequate reference, but as I say, even if you fixed the reference, there is still the problem of where the concept would go and how to develop it based on Pytheas. One phrase is not really enough, is it? I would suggest the new article. Then you can develop every crank theory there is - quite a few.Dave (talk) 11:30, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
Hmn. Someone has been busily at work degrading the English of the Thule section with short editorial comments, so I cannot tell what has been done there. This will take longer to restore. Be patient, though. I got it, for now, anyway.Dave (talk) 02:16, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Well, I just noticed there is an article on Thule that someone has been taking seriously. You can put the Estonian Thule there. That one appears to need some clean-up but it is trying to be more on the level of this one. It should have a good going over but for the time anyway the editor will not be me. I only came back to Pytheas because the vultures were starting to gnaw at it and I'm the main author. Many brave souls he sent down to Hades, leaving their corpses as food for the dogs and carrion for the vultures. To the rescue!Dave (talk) 02:50, 8 June 2012 (UTC)


I see there are some questions here and some requests for sources. I may start making another pass at this. I'd like to expand the infobox also. I like infoboxes. I have to go more slowly because of limited time. It seems a shame not to wind it up. Now, on the requests for sources, most of those are not necessary. They derive from an embittered Scandinavian who wanted to put a tag at the top because every paragraph did not contain a source. I wouldn't let him do that but asked him to tag specific loci, which I presume he did. I don't have time to follow down every spiteful little dig. The places currently tagged don't really need a source as only general, standard knowledge is being referenced. If it were not for the spite factor they would not be there. However, I will oblige per WP policy. Don't remove anything at least not until I check it. I may remove it. For the comments, well, my goodness. I'm astounded at the emotions evidenced. I don't see why Pytheas merits all this fandango. Is it me? More spite? Unfortunately in your haste to denigrate you forgot to say just what it is you find to be such nonsense and why. Emotion in no way makes up or compensates for reason. Reason is the word. Reason. Excellent word, wonderful concept. Most of these things may have been addressed by now but I will give it a reasonable lookover, working backward until I reach my previous comments. If you actually have a point I will do something about it. So this is of high importance to some? Well, Pytheas seemed important to me too. I'll do what I can.Dave (talk) 11:17, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

PS. I just looked at the article. Suprisingly I would say it is 80% the same as when I left it. One thing that has happened is the slow melting away of some of the material. It seems best to me to work back through the changes restoring where it seems warranted, supplying the ref if that is the reason why the melt occurred. There is some vandalism by new users here. First the vandal throws on a request for a ref. Then later he removes the refed statement. He counts on no one knowledgable seeing the request. If you look at his user pages there is almost nothing there. He only got on WP, it seems, to attack this article. A lot of these requests are off the wall. Things "seem" dubious that are pretty standard. For you new users I would say, put off taking on the revision of a major and well-referenced article on a topic you know nothing at all about until you get more experience. For some of you I don't see what you are doing over here. Your current efforts have nothing to do with either Pytheas or ancient history. I know, however, you probably are not going to listen to ME or you would not have jumped in here. I suppose I will end by putting back about 90% of what was removed. If the change is a genuine improvement, of course, it will stand. I suppose adding more references to obvious things will not make the article worse. It means more "hand-holding" on our part. If you are a student, beware, don't rely on WP. Do your own work. This is just a guide so you can see what the topic looks like.Dave (talk) 17:08, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

Pytheas' Observatory[edit]

I read that article in the whimsical journal DIO. Though whimsical the journal appears serious about supporting off-beat views that are supportable. In this theory, the article supposes that one of Pytheas' discrepancies might be accounted for by presuming he was not at Marseilles proper but near it. The author did the calculations and discovered that if Pytheas observed from a certain promontory the discrepancy goes away. Isn't he lucky. This does not fit any traditional scholarship because there is absolutely no evidence that Pytheas had an observatory there. None. Zip. However, it is a theory that has some evidence to suggest it might be possible. Well, anything is possible, including the theory that spacemen came down and distracted Pytheas' attention. Unlike the off-the-wall theories of Thule, however, this view does not contradict any evidence. It does not conform exactly to the parsimony principle, the famous axe, because it is not the simplest explanation. We have to invent a new observatory for which there is no evidence. That is why the article is in DIO. But, a lot of classical articles I have seen are no better grounded. This is not a mainstream view but it is a possible view. So, I am going to turn the whole thing into a footnote. By the way, editor, when you write for WP, take it seriously. Write good English and not whimsical English. There are plenty of clowns in the world; you won't be missed as one. Develop the theme a little, don't leave us to guess who is saying what about what. Thanks. No one ever heard of DIO. I will make the changes in a few minutes.Dave (talk) 16:41, 7 June 2012 (UTC)

Parenthetical interjections[edit]

The parenthetical interjections are not insertions of editorial opinions. The custom in scholarship often is, when writing about ancient texts, to put the original Greek or Latin words in parentheses so that the reader can see how the text went. Apparently one editor has mistaken that practice as an opportunity to make often inane parenthetical comments. I'm deleting those.Dave (talk) 09:03, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Use of the English comma[edit]

The comma is used for parenthetical expressions. One editor generously performed more conversions in the last sections of the article, using parentheses. Well thanks. I have not checked them yet. I probably will. But, when you add all those in between parentheses, it makes for pretty jerky English. The parentheses are not a feature of English syntax. We use the comma. I used them in the exposition of ancient foreign words, but that is a special convention, not a replacement of the comma for ordinary English text. This is semi-formal English designed for the ordinary reader. The editor who performed the conversions mistook my use of the parens. This is not mathematical or abbreviational English, in which everything gets abbreviated, but actually is ordinary English. I have taken the liberty of putting in commas for ordinary English uses rather than expostion of foreign texts. Incidentally I saw no need to convert every single number and still do not. They clutter up the text. But, now that you've done the work, I'm not going to take them out, unless perchance they are wrong or do not fit the topic of the paragraph.Dave (talk) 09:44, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Removed links[edit]

I removed the following links. Of course I know how much people like their links so I only did this after due consideration and rereading the help on external links.

Reason: the article is about Pytheas. This link is a review by Nancy Gill of a book about Pytheas by Cunliffe. Nancy is a creditable classicist on the Internet. Cunliffe is an often controversial scholar who tends to see disputed meanings in ancient scripts considered undecipherable. He is nevertheless creditable if you choose to credit him and not someone else. Nancy does not add a thing to the Pytheas scholarship. That was not her intent, which was to express the idea that Barry does not add a thing. I cannot say that this is a scholarly debate or that it adds anything to Pythean scholarship. Furthermore it is expressed in language that WP considers non-neutral. While Nancy does some great articles - thanks Nancy - and Barry has written some VERY interesting books - thanks Barry - I do not believe this debate or any of the material therein is relevant to the article. Following the economy principle of links, I am removing it.Dave (talk) 01:45, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Removed editorialization[edit]

"The practice of attributing descriptions of the British and the Germans in Tacitus and other authors to Pytheas based on no evidence but their apparent antiquity has resulted in some extensive descriptions of the voyage and many more attributions of "first observation" than are justifiable. These descriptions have been presented as non-fiction or history. They may be the history of someone other than Pytheas but the synthesis into a single voyage of a single explorer whose work has been lost is fictional."

Someone took the opportunity to slip this in unnoticed. This is purely unsupported opinion and runs counter to the whole development of the article. I won't ask who it was or even bother to find out. Thank you for your attempted contribution, whoever you might be. FYI, WP is not for the random opinions of the editors on this or that topic no matter how strongly held. This is a kind of big report on the previously existing state of the named topic. References are critical. If some scholar held that opinion you could put it in as his opinion; otherwise, you are not allowed to just slip your opinion in without support. Granted these articles are ongoing stories around the campfire, but with a modification: when it is someone's turn to pick up the story, he has to say "simon says .." and then not just make it up but identify "simon." If you feel that contributing is something you would like to do, request a login! Then you have to follow the rules, which are often complex and take a while to learn. Thanks.Dave (talk) 11:39, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Pictish stone[edit]

Thie image was removed as irrelevant. I agree it is mediaeval. I deny it is irrelevant. Forms such as this were the customary art and practice of the Pictish people. No doubt that style persisted throughout the duration of the culture. Similarly, you can't dismiss Middle English as English because it is mediaeval, you can't dimiss mediaeval songs as mediaeval because they are sung only today, etc. Aththropologists study modern primitives because they give some insight into the more ancient customs of man. If the present does not shed light on the past, why on earth does anyone bother? If cultural objects persist over long periods an instance from any particular time in that period is as credible as any other. The stone is an instance of Pictish culture, an example of a Pictish form. It is as relevant as the Pictish hut shown, which was actually built in modern times. No ancient Pict either built or used it. If the hut is relevant, the stone is relevant. Please leave it. My suggestion is, until the editor has logged some history time he should defer marking up history articles.Dave (talk) 12:46, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Circumstances of the voyage[edit]

Hidden as a comment is the original text of the section after I finished it. It acquired some tags. No response was given so the section was hacked up, creating problems it had solved. I never knew all this was going on until Doug Weller called me in. Thank you Doug. The material hacked up was all standard stuff, so standard I did not see fit to put a ref. Common knowledge I think the term is. What I did not take into account is that there really is no knowledge that is common to everyone. A lot of people are not history buffs. As most of the material excised is good, I am putting the section here, but commented out so as not to bore you with it, until I can complete my review and supply the references requested. Mea culpa. If anything someone else could have emailed or messaged me sooner. Please leave it hidden. When finished I will restore what I have then and remove the original from here. I only get so much time for WP, like all of us.Dave (talk) 13:02, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

I completed checking that. I decided I prefer the condensation. The only point of the whole argument was that Carthage did not oppose the voyage because it was on friendly terms with the Massaliotes. I gave a military explanation of why this was so, which was questioned. This is like a baseball game. The home team can do no wrong. Some pro-Carthanginian afficionado put no less than 4 questions on that. Well, everything I said was not mine, it was taken from generally accepted views. If you don't like it, too bad. Massalia was in fact a third feared power in the region and Carthage feared them. By that time it was clear to the Ionian Greeks that Ionia was a dead-end residence so they had moved in large numbers to Massalia, accounting for their weakness on the coast of Turkey. But, there is no need to sing the Marseillaise here. It would have taken more space than I intended to give it. The point was made by what was not questioned so I'm just accepting that. If at any time I work on articles defining the relations between Carthage and Massalia this will come up again. Avants enfants de la patrie .... Massalia could have taken Carthage with one hand behind its back.Dave (talk) 03:35, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Completely relevant fact[edit]

An editor removed this as "completely irrelevant."

"Icelanders are fairly sure Iceland was not Thule, as Pytheas lived centuries before its colonization by European agriculturalists, and Greenland for the same reason is out of the question."

That was a really strange thing to say. First I list the possibilities. Then I exclude the ones that can be excluded. Greenland and Iceland are out because no one lived there. How is that irrelevant? I'm putting this back in modified form. I think you really wanted to condense. You should say that, not that it is "irrelevant."

Reversion of Stonehenge[edit]

Doug! Thanks for your friendship, Doug. Due to the long periods that go by between edits a certain inconsistency has developed. First you removed the section on Stonehenge on the grounds that it was a fringe insertion of a lunatic idea. Then I guess you forgot about that. There was mention of it in the intro. After you took the section out someone tagged the mention of it for a ref. Then, just as though you did not remember you had deleted the section, you removed the mention on the grounds that no one had replied to the request. Well, Doug, I am not questioning your good intentions. If you had not contacted me concerning the forms, the whole British section would have gone out the window! The forms, you know, that is quite standard and long-standing. I hardly know what to say. It is even in the Welsh dictionary! I don't know all these languages, but I keep whatever dictionaries I can find at book sales. Quite a few as it turns out.

I think I understand how you think, and believe me I do appreciate your respect. Thank you. Often I catch myself doing the same thing, which I never did as a young man, because all ideas were new to me. Knowledge does not wait for us, Doug. Many times I have said to myself, oh no, that can't be right! when in fact it was, and I had not caught up with the idea. Such are the risks of being older. The framework gradually changes and you just can't keep up with everything. Now, I thought at first that the Stonehenge idea was just a crank theory. After more reading I could see that it was not. More work was done on Stonehenge. It actually was a social center of the entire island at the time of Pytheas. Chiefs of some sort probably did live there. If Pytheas landed on British soil and visited with the natives he could hardly have avoided Stonehenge. It is the only monument that fits the description.

So, Doug, I would argue that it is not a fringe theory. No one that I can see is claiming it is. British historians are actually excited about it. My section is referenced. I am putting this section back with the mention in the intro on the grounds that you blanked out referenced material, and did no without discussion. Furthermore, it is not irrelevant as you claimed. Pytheas' discovery of Britain also included the discovery of Stonehenge. How can that be irrelevant? I plan to read it over and make sure the refs are OK. But you know, the last time you asked me for refs, I had my pick of any number of good books.

But, I think you had some uncertainty about whether this was the right thing to do, and that is why you contacted me. Don't worry, I feel pretty friendly. You did ask for my assistance. I got to go now but I will not be finished this time until I have considered each and every change made since I last left it. Thanks Doug. Ciao.Dave (talk) 05:33, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

I'm glad you feel friendly and sorry that my edits on the Stonehenge issue seem to be a bit absent-minded. But I am removing the Stonehenge material again, from the body of the article and the lead, and adding it below. First, most of it is original research - you are making an argument yourself, not reporting what reliable sources say about Pytheas and Stonehenge, and this is original research. The only source that seems to mention this is Bridgman talking about Hecataeus[1] and he dismisses it. If many historians are excited about it please bring your sources here and we can discuss them. If you think it isn't original research you can bring it to WP:NORN but it really looks like it. You really need to find sources meeting our criteria at WP:RS that discuss Pytheas and Stonehenge. Dougweller (talk) 10:14, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Removed as original research[edit]

Observation of Stonehenge A second passage from Diodorus has gained some repute as a possible report of Pytheas' observation of the monuments at Stonehenge.[4] The passage is distinctive for its unusual definition of the Hyperboreans as they who "lie beyond the breezes of the north wind", in contradistinction to the classical Roman definition as dweller in the far north, meaning northeastern Europe. Diodorus' Hyperboreans live on "an island in the Ocean over against Gaul, (as big as Sicily) ...", which can only be Britain. It is not called Britain but remains unnamed. One explanation for these variants is that the passage is from a different tradition than the classical names and definitions of Britain and the Hyperboreans. The latter's definition was given by Herodotus based on continental knowledge.[5]

Diodorus says that for this information he was relying on "Hecateus and some others" meaning Hecataeus of Abdera's On the Hyperboreans, now lost (based on the date of calendar he references). Hecataeus was a contemporary of Pytheas writing toward the end of the 4th century BC. As far as can be known now he might have had the Massiliote Periplus in front of him but his most likely source is same as everyone else's of the times, Pytheas of Massilia. Nothing in the passage or elsewhere, however, connects it directly to Pytheas.

On this island is "a stately grove and renowned temple, of a round form ... a city likewise consecrated to the god (Apollo), whose citizens ... play on the harp, chant sacred hymns to Apollo in the temple ...." The city is of international repute, being, says Diodorus, the native city of the famed Hyperborean necromancer, Abaris, who went with his arrow around the world without eating.[6] Over this city rule the Boread family, the descendants of Boreas.

On the surface the worship of the god appears to be equivocal. Apollo is a solar deity, but he returns to the temple every 19 years, about the time it takes for the plane of the moon's orbit to precess over a full circle. (More exactly 18.6 years; see under Month.) Moreover the passage stresses that from this island the moon is very close to the Earth so that all its topographical features can be seen (which some say gave Pytheas that idea that the moon controls the tides). Apparently the deity is lunar[7] and the temple must be at some location where lunar deities are worshipped.

However, the Metonic calendar introduced at Athens in 432 BC is based on the Metonic cycle, in which 19 solar years comes within two hours of coinciding with 235 months. There is no reason to favor the moon. (Reference to the Metonic cycle dates the passage to after the 5th century BC, excluding Hecataeus of Miletus from being Diodorus' Hecataeus.) In later times Borvo, a god of healing, was the Celtic equivalent of Apollo.[8] Other locations such as in Scandinavia have been proposed but according to the passage on this island the soil is so fertile as to produce two crops a year and the climate is temperate. Southern Britain better fits this description.

In the Iron age Stonehenge was a renewed center of power, the best candidate for the location of the city being the mound at nearby Vespasian's Camp (not a Roman castra nor in any way associated with Vespasian), which is arrow-shaped. If Pytheas did wander over the island he could hardly have avoided it. Diodorus (or Pytheas) says that these Hyperboreans had a distinct language and were friendly to Greeks. References

  1. ^ Todd, Malcolm (2004). The Early Germans. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. p. 2. ISBN 1-4051-1714-1. 
  2. ^ Strabo i, 4,4 & ii, 5,8 tells us, on the authority of Hipparchus, that Pytheas reported the length of the shadow of a gnomon in his home town at noon on a specified date, and that from this information Hipparchus concluded that Marseille must be on the same latitude as Byzantium.
  3. ^ Lennart Meri (1976). Hõbevalge (Silverwhite). Tallinn, Estonia: Eesti Raamat. 
  4. ^ Library Book II Chapter 3. Diodorus Siculus; G. Booth (Translator) (1814). The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian (in English). London: G.Booth, Military Chronicle Office. pp. page 139.  Downloadable Google Books
  5. ^ Bridgman, Timothy P. (2005). Hyperboreans: Myth and History in Celtic-Hellenic Contacts. Routledge. pp. pages 135–137. ISBN 0415969786, ISBN 9780415969789.  Bridgman refer to Histories IV.13.
  6. ^ Herodotus, Histories, IV.35.
  7. ^ Burl, Aubrey (2000). The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland, and Brittany: New Revised Edition. Yale University Press. pp. page 205. ISBN 0300083475, ISBN 9780300083477. 
  8. ^ Bridgman (2005) page 136.


I've already made some in the section above. This is basically OR, & the only source mentioning it does so in 2 sentence, the second one dismissing the idea. This is not enough to show that the idea is significant enough to be in the article, see WP:UNDUE. If a number of reliable sources have shown interest in this please bring the sources here. Thanks. Dougweller (talk) 10:21, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for your swift reply, Doug. This is the discussion I was looking for. I was beginning to feel you were just hacking material out arbitrarily but I see now you have thought it over pretty good, or at least so it seems. You must be something of a night owl like me. I seem to have gone to bed with it and now I am getting up with it. It needs examination. Whether it is in or out during that process does not matter to me. I see the situation basically as this. I see myself as introducing the subject. Introductions don't generally need references, only the theses. You take someone's statement and you introduce it. The reference goes on the statement. You want to say that these introductions are original rsearch. You are leaving it up to me to research the topic and come up with more references, pretty much the same way we did with the people of forms. You are questioning the references I do have. You are saying to me well Dave, this topic stikes me personally as offbeat so unless you come up with a more complete list of references showing it is not, I by virtue of my position as sysadm am going to remove it, references and all. Well. The challenge has been sent forth. The gauntlet is down. The lists are open before us. My steed paws the earth before me. My good sword is restless in its scabbard. The only problem is me. I can't get my legs over the saddle. All right, let me summarize my position as follows.
You've asserted that this is an offbeat topic. Moreover, in presenting it, you say, I used original research. These are my views and not those of authors. There is a certain contradiction. If it is an existing offbeat topic, then how can it be my original research? If this is original research, then where do all these references come from? Let me follow you along for a moment and make sure I am stating your case right. I suppose you would say it is a matter of degree. My references, you say, are insufficient to justify the topic. I have used too much interpretive leeway in using them to make the point. Fair enough?
On the contrary, this is not an offbeat topic. It is a new conclusion based on the accumulation of research on Stonehenge. Moreover, my presentation is not original research. Socially the position is, you are an admin making a decision on what represents fair material for WP according to the policies. You make judgements based on what you see before you, like a judge. You are judging my material, and saying, Dave, I judge this material is unacceptable as stands. Unlike the majority of admins, you have not been impolite, discourteous or obnoxious about it. You are entitled to a polite reply, I think. So, the ball is in my court. It is up to me to show that this material is justified. My experiences with some WP administrators introduce the fear that, if you have already made up your mind based on unspoken motives it will not matter what kind of presentation I can make, it will just be dismissed. In my experience with this kind of dismissal I have found some administrators to be quite impudent. For example, JSTOR is manifestly a pay site. To get articles you have to log in based on prior arrangements or pay a fee for the article. The administrators I was dealing with at the time, who were pro-JSTOR, had the impudence to assert to my face that this was not a pay site and furthermore if I persisted in treating it as that they were going to call for a review of all my contributions! They accused me of playing God on WP! Me? Not them? It seemed to me at that time I was dealing with a totally hypocrital organization, preaching one thing from one Janus face and making decisions based on the hidden face at the back of the head. I nearly got off WP. I don't much like hypocrites. The only thing that kept me on was the recognition by JW and his top officers that a problem existed and they were trying to solve it. The measures taken seemed sincere.
Anyway as far as I know you are not necessarily of that ilk. I rather liked your polite replies. So, I am going to study your discussatory material and then look at the sources again. If I still feel I am warranted I will present the material again with fuller references and more quotes. Then we can take a fuller look at it. If the material is valid but you don't feel it is of sufficient relative value to be in the mainstream of the article then perhaps a footnote will be acceptable. NOw, I've presented this material in good faith. You've made a reply, as far as I know, in good faith. I would therefore expect this to come to some sort of a good faith resolution. In my mind it is a matter of credibility. WP makes certain offers to provide information to the public. Why should they do that? Is that a credible offer? On the basis of that they ask the public to pay their costs. Well that is about as far as I want to take it at this point. Now it is up to me, apparently. Why not? It was I who presented the material. The bottom line is, I can't give you the same immediate reply you gave me. The situation puts the burden on me. This will take me some time. At the moment I work on a series or articles by time slice. The slice for this article is up. When it come up again then I will need to be ready with the material. So, this is not something that will be resolved in the immediate future. I hope it will not be another 2 years. It is in the queue. My impression is that you still will be there. Since you've approached me in good faith it seems to me I have to put up or shut up. I know this is wordy but honest relations are worth the discussion. So, until later then. I will keep coming back to this article. I still have hopes that good material will stay on WP and not just vanish away. Besides I want to put in some distance before I turn to look at this objectively. Ciao.Dave (talk) 12:33, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
No original research—the deleted passage is full of imaginative, conjectural interpretation developed far beyond what the sources will bear. As such has no place in the article.--Old Moonraker (talk) 12:15, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Hello there Moonraker. I thought that is what Doug was saying. I see you agree, that is what he is saying. I see you are seconding the motion. It seemed that way to you too. But here again, the judgement is not on the topic, only on my presentation of it. Nevertheless I appreciate your apparently independent judgement. I can't really say anything more than what I said above. When I get to this again I will rewrite the section. Then I will put the rewritten section in the discussion for discussion. If no one wants to discuss I will put it in the article. Otherwise what we do will depend on the discussion. I think that is the WP way. If I'm wrong do speak up. As long as everyone stays as civil as Doug I got no problem with that. I feel better about this than I would have about a unilateral blanking. But for the time I must beg off. I recognize it is my turn to put up or shut up; that is, come up with something better or drop the case. Thank you for your input.Dave (talk) 12:33, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
My interest in this dates to February 2010, when some similar, speculative material was added, but soon deleted, at Stonehenge. Here's the addition. The discussion, with further points, is here. --Old Moonraker (talk) 12:51, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the additional information. I don't think it was I at that time, although sometimes I can't remember what I did. It is relevant to know there has been an issue on WP. I'm sold on the Stonehenge idea although I admit that it was not adequately presented to an audience that would include strong opponents. Now, I would have to say, it isn't as strong a topic as I thought. I'm concluding that it is a disputed topic. That is a different approach. My tendency now is to think, well, it is strong enough to be in there, but it should be presented as a disputed topic, giving a few pros and cons. My treatment, so far unquestioned, of the other disputed topic was to put it in a footnote. Now, the ancient source DID mention the round temple. I think at this moment I would like to mention the round temple and keep the ancient quote but not present it definitely as Stonehenge, instead, put a note on saying that some consider it be Stonehenge, with a few pros and cons. From your point of view I suppose I represent a pro-Stonehenge element, at least at this moment. How are you going to deal with me? Well, I appreciate your elucidation of your motives. Honesty is better than hypocrisy. Now we have to work this out per WP discussion. I still got the same time constraints but we are on the peer review now so we might as well go on. It just sort of happened. If you have any more info please bring it up. I will not even start on it until all the players are present and have spoken their parts.Dave (talk) 13:13, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
PS. I read the talk on the other page. The same points were covered as in this discussion so far. It was basically you and Doug against the other fellow, what was his name? Franklin? He got off of WP. There is always a question of how much time one has to spend on WP confrontations. Now it is you and Doug again on the same issue. If it keeps coming up, that would indicate to me it has NOT been resolved, but let that go for the moment. I think it has had a good effect on Doug. He has become more civil. Well, let's see. There is no point in covering the same ground. I think the other fellow had a point, but I'm interested in resolution not confrontation. Let's do better this time. Here is what I have to do. 1) Collect my sources. 2) Collect my credible opinions. 3) Study the arguments given in the previous discussion. 3) Prepare an objective footnote. 4) Submit this footnote for discussion. Right now I think it should be a footnote. My take on the previous discussion is that you two partners (dual case in Greek) are to some degree in a state of denial. You don't want to give the other side a fair chance or an equal voice. But, maybe I'm wrong. I cannot tell you until I have performed the tasks I listed and have made as objective an assessment as I can as to the strength of this concept in the field. We alsways have to ask, where does this concept stand in the field. That is my main target right now. Naturally as I said it will take some time.Dave (talk) 14:45, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Dave, you mention "equal voice", but that's not how we work. See WP:NPOV and esp. WP:NPOV. There's no exact science here, but except in a WP:FRINGE article, the mainstream has the predominant, perhaps sole, 'voice'. Right now I think this is worth mentioning in a couple of sentences, making it clear it is a small minority view & not trying to argue for it. Dougweller (talk) 15:31, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't disagree with that, Doug. Mainstream should prevail, no doubt. In my mind the question is how strong the Stonehenge thesis is. My presumption and that of the other editor on the Stonehenge article was that it is a co-equal strength; that is, the mainstream is changing. After your persistent opposition I'm willing to reevaluate my view. There must be some reason why you are convinced you are right. I really can't say what my finding will be until I find it! We can work it out then. If I find with you that I was overinfluenced by a small but vocal minority and that in fact it is a small minority on the fringe or near it, considering the fact that it has come up multiple times on WP, which is probably representative of its influence in society, it might be worth mentioning in a footnote along with a few pros and cons, briefly put. However, anything I say now is conditional on what I find. You saw my talk site. I prefer to be thorough. I know of no reason why you two should have taken a firm stand against it. That being so, I have to assume you think the way you do by conviction. If I find that in fact that the the argument is growing in strength and might be considered co-equal then I will try to convince you of that perception. Right now you would outvote me. Perfectly legitimate. I like to pursue what seems right, however, until every resource is exhausted. Neither of you as far as I remember has ever been tyrannical or has abused your power. I didn't think the previous discussion was rude. Therefore there is a sort of gentleman's agreement to play the game right as long as you state it right. You do mistake what I mean by co-equal. No, not every view can get co-equal treatment; that is impossible. Yes this is a sort of domain where policies don't clearly apply. I'm going to run for chief justice in a minute. Regardless of what I find this problem is obviously going to keep coming up. Let's get a head start by making a published stand, I say. One can't outvote two, but he can influence. I got to go now, Doug. I'll be back with the finding; I won't forget you for two more years. I find I can;t really put my best judgement forward without additional research. I will tip you off by message when I have something to relate. Of course I will check here from time to time and you can always message me if you need my services again. Right now I need to get away from this for a few days to establish some objectivity. Too close. Best wishes.Dave (talk) 21:29, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

This looks like original research[edit]

Does it? Well, it is unsupported. Do I want to come up with refs on that one? No, I think not. That would involve expanding the topic. That topic is actually more on the linguistics side so I am not sure an expanded topic would strictly speaking fit well under Pytheas. I only intended an intro, not a linguistics section. My tendency at this point is to say, OK, you can have that one. If someone wants to take it over I'm not saying it would not have a place, only that to me its relevance to the current article isn't worth the development. You'd be getting into Celtic linguistics. I pass on that. Since you are in the mood to review the article, I would say, great! It seldom gets the much attention. I will follow along with you with my comments and inputs if any. Surely three people can do better than one. And, I will get to the Stonehenge eventually. Right now this new review preempts my attention. This is a kind of inadvertent peer review. I'm ready if you're ready.Dave (talk) 12:57, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Box thinking versus creative thinking[edit]

I've been thinking this all over and I did not get very far before I encountered what I think is the root of the problem in this and other articles. All of a sudden the answer dawned on me. We have in a sense been practicing it all along. It seems so simple I wonder we did not think of it in this and the other articles mentioned. The fundamental principle being exercised might be summed up by the principle "my way or the highway." It is conducted via various excuses such as "this is too opinionated", "this is original research", "this is too imaginative", "this has no references", "I don't like your references." All these excuses have nothing to do with it. References can be found, opinions can be removed, and so on. But, no matter what excuse is used, no matter what long-winded reply made, in the end the person in the bully pulpit is going to act unilaterally without regard to any WP policy that may be in place. One may have found the best references in the world. No matter. Out it goes. The attention of both protagonists becomes narrowed in, focuses on, concentrates on, a confrontation. The blinders go on. Vision becomes tunnel vision. We all seem caught up in a conflict we can't get out of. I want to call this box thinking. You think your way into a box and cannot get out. Even if one party "wins" the victory is Pyrrhic. All the world's great disasters seem to put this principle into practice. The captain of the Titanic absolutely would not slow down for the possibility of ice. General Haig in World War I would consider nothing else but frontal assaults across impossible terrain no matter how many men it took. And so on.

We all know that knowledge is interrelated, so the question is always before us, what connections logically go in a single article and what do not! On the one hand the editor, unless he is a hypocrite, knows that certain material is worthy of presentation. The opponent, be he editor or administrator, knows that the material is marginal for this article. The confrontation develops. This stays in. No, it goes out. No, it stays in. No, it goes out. Take that, you dirty rat. Oh yeah? Well eat this wise guy. Maybe you remember the films of Edward G. Robinson, the Keystone Cops, Charlie Chaplin and all the rest who used to do parodies of box thinking, with 50 cops falling all over themselves unable to catch the little guy in endless comic struggle across the plains of Heaven, to parody Milton. If only we are tough enough, ruthless enough, merciless enough, we can win the struggle and solve the conflict in our time. The war to end war.

The real situation does not actually fit in the box. There are many possibilities. Things do not have to be just one way. We are not rats in a maze. We're human beings and if we try we can avoid that box. Finding solutions other than boxes is creative thinking. Now, Doug, you removed some passages of mine and others. Then you contacted me about the forms. You obviously were having some regretful feelings but you didn't want to come out and tell me. Instead you drew me back to the article. I doubt if you feel right about it now. However, you are convinced you are right, and that conviction drives you on. When I put the passage back, you exploded and took even more out! I on the other hand could see some merit in this material. I was going to act to make sure the meritorious material was not lost! Box thinking. Let's get out of this.

Actually, there are many ways to do this. On the forms, there is another article on the forms, Name of Britain. Right now it has a tag on it but I am sure it can be made right. I propose we take the etymological material OUT of here as to some degree it duplicates material already started in the other article. I think I saw it somewhere else as well. There it would be more relevant for me to develop the idea of the language from which it came. The Pytheas article should say only that the name came from Pytheas. Then we can blue link name.

I imagine you have have other concerns as well. I have had the feeling of restlessness on your part but you don't want to step on my toes. However, if I talk back, then it is OK to lose your temper and step on them. I imagine it worked pretty much the same way for the Stonehenge editor. If we stop thinking in the box about this, no confrontation is necessary. You just suggest the material would be more relevant in another article. Here, I'll do it. "Dave, this material goes further than what would seem to be warranted by the main topic. Not only that but it needs development. We think it would be better to find or create another article for it." So, I would say, go ahead, arrange the article as you see fit. I will deal with the material in another way. I still appreciate your comments. As for your remarks about the imagination, the original contributions, etc., well, stow it. I appreciate the fact that you consider it insufficiently referenced.

So, here is my solution to the Stonehenge problem. You are convinced it is a fringe or crank theory and will not allow it, you think. However, there is one circumstance in which it might appear, in its own article, say Pytheas and Stonehenge, which covers the theory that Pytheas saw Stonehenge. We're out of the box. I promised you some objective reserch on the topic. Well yes, but I don't want to do it for no result. I'm sure the editor who got off felt the same way. What I think is best is if I develop this in a sandbox article. When it is ready I can then release it. If the topic is actually that theory and it is properly referenced then you have no grounds for deleting it as a finge to Pytheas or Stonehenge. You can try, but it is a lot harder to justify deletion of an article, involving more people than you. But all this is premature, maybe not even necessary. I have not done the research yet. These are only the terms of research. There is one caveat. I went thru this with Dieter Bachman. I'm not working for you. No one governs what I write directly. He had an offer like this proposal but I had to turn it down, as he had in mind direct supervision of the article's development. For that, you have to pay me.

I don't need your permission to do any of this stuff. Nevertheless I value any opinions and comments from colleages. Let's not get into the box again. I am inclined to work on the name of Britain first. Then I will work up the Pytheas and Stonehenge. Meanwhile I will collect the material you deleted from the two articles in a sandbox where I can look at it. If you have any alternative names for such an article or any opinions I will be glad to read them. I do not think we should present it as a fringe theory unless someone other than you has called it a fringe theory. I value your opinions but, as you so often have said to me, they are YOUR opinions, so far. For the Pytheas article, well, you want to refine that I presume into a condition where it might be nominated as a good article. I do not wish to impede that process. If you have (you think) to excise material, go ahead, but if you could just leave a brief trail in the discussion I would appreciate that. Whatever you excise if I think it should be developed I'll consider first if I want to do it and second the best location. This is it for now. I'll begetting started on the name, using my former Pytheas time for that. I'll also be setting up a sandbox off my site and collecting material. Same time constraints but you aren't being held up. Got to go. Way too much time on this but can't be helped.Dave (talk) 12:26, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Just one observation: do spend a little time with the relevant policies, as User:Dougweller has suggested; preparing your piece to conform with WP:V, WP:RS and WP:FRINGE may save you from a fruitless expense of time. In particular, be careful of creative thinking: see "Wikipedia is not a place for creative thought". --Old Moonraker (talk) 15:11, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
Right. No, I've read those policies. However, these are like the law or the Bible, it is hard to know sometimes exactly to what they apply. In many cases it is a matter of opinion, so therefore the highest-ranking opinion applies. In those cases, it is a matter of opinion and rank. That was my point, not a denial of the policies. I or anyone can read policy until I am blue in the face but if my application is cried down arbitrarily by someone of higher WP rank then it has only the value of an excuse. If that was the intent then it is not policy but tyranny. Why don't you just leave it at that. The two of you don't seem like tyrants, yet. I will tell you if you do. I usually speak my piece. So far, if you say it looks like original research then it seems to me I should check it out and add the refs or reword it. I would consider what you said seriously even if you did not gang up with Doug and if you were both beginners, as that is the more democratic approach. Your arbitrary stand with that previous editor troubles me a little, and he did not stay, perhaps as a result, but then, you see, I have not looked into it yet so I do not wish to make any careless statements about it. Maybe he was off the wall. Careful opinions are needed here. As far as I know now you and Doug noticed a few statements of mine that seem to err on the original research side. It is incumbant on me in the spirit of good fellowship if I wish to continue with the article to examine them more carefully, and furthermore, not to be contentious about it. As far as I know now, you are providing some expert help with this article. By the way, it does represent an earlier stage of my experience. So, thank you for your opinions. I would not for anything have honest men feel bad about doing their jobs. If I make you feel bad, I apologize. If I thought you were not doing this right you'd here about it. No need to be rash here. Whew. I think that covers it.
This is correct. I am not at all saying there is no room in this article for a mention of Pytheas and Stonehenge. What I am saying is that it will need to simply represent what reliable sources have said about it and make it clear that it is not taken seriously today in mainline scholarship. I've asked you to find those sources and bring them here. What you shouldn't waste time on is trying to prove a connection, as this is simply the wrong place for our own ideas. I'll also say upfront that I don't think an article on the topic will fly unless you can find considerable discussion in academic sources. If it belongs anywhere, it belongs here. Dougweller (talk) 15:15, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
All right. You have expressed an opinion that it belongs here. I intended that it should be here. Thank you for your opinion. And, you are right, that a thesis such as this requires considerable support from the academic community to be considered mainstream. The fact that someone like you is so firm against the thesis is not a good omen for its standing. However, you do in part mistake your man. I got no intention of proving anything. If I seem to prove things in some of my writing it is not really my proof. I'm following along what some scholar says. This is a device of presentation. If one did not do that the entire article could contain only quotes or parodies of quotes. And then, you could argue that the selection of quotes is original thinking. You could never say, Caesar says that all Gaul is divided into three parts, only that Smith says Caesar says all Gaul is divided into three parts. That is stilted English and I am not going to do it. Let us not carry this to ridiculous extremes. Sometimes the WP write-up is not too thoughtful. For example, at one point I saw the dictum that no primary sources may be used, only secondary. Apart from the fact that the writer totally misunderstood primary and secondary, and had been told that in vain by numerous editors, that dictum if carried out meant that you could not even read or quote, say, Benjamin Franklin or George Washington, you could only say someone else quoted him or said he said something. Where on Earth do you get these administrators? I just ignored it. The matter almost never came up again. It did come up in one article, where I had read the author's book and was stating in the WP article what the author had said. A person, who wanted to put a stilted interpretation of that author in accordance with an ideology said, my relating what the author said was original thought. He felt I could only use what other people said about it. I have no time for that nonsense. I deferred working on the article until such time as I had 6 months or so to hunt out all the commentators. That is what I mean by trying to use policy to justify your own opinions. Until it comes out to what your opinion is you can find some justification or other to discard it. In this article I believe we quote the ancient authors. Don't mistake that for my selection. I got it from some standard commentator. I think you might feel better if you realize that I got on here also in 2005 and futhermore that I was trained in the field, but I missed actually being in it. I generally can tell a crank from an academic theory. I've deleted a number of crank theorie from articles myself. However, even the best of us do slip up.
There are a couple of points I think your previous experience with beginning editors is blind-siding you on. First of all, I would never do an article presuming a priori that it was truth. That would I think be non-NPOV. I would always present the pros and cons and let the reader decide. By the same method I would never tag the theory up front as crank. WP is not interested in truth, but only in what the sources think is true. Second you imply that I should declare the theory is crank before I even do any look-up work! Please, let me do the work then I will tell you what I think. I have not determined for sure to do another article, only pointing out that there are many ways to do things on WP and that we should be creative and not necessarily think confrontationally. I'll let you know, don't worry. I had to tell an administrator recently that she (he?) was using the Internet to harass and that was against the law. I did not enjoy that. If he/she does it again I will not enjoy starting proceedings. I notice also you seem to be willing to say what you really think. That is a rare quality on WP I believe. Anyway, look, my wife is holding my supper for me. I message you again when I get something to message. I have not decided anything. I haven't done the work beyond what I previously did, not enough I guess.Dave (talk) 23:11, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Moving the linguistics show[edit]

Hi Doug. I guess you were right, you didn't delete anything from the etymological section, only marked it up. I was a bit surprised at the mark up because that bit is covered in the ref given just a few sentences before. However, sometimes one has to repeat the same ref. What is a little more surprising is your insistence that all this needs some special academic credentials. This is the mainstream view; in fact, as far as I can see, there no other on this one. P-Celtic - well, you see, the word begins with a p and not a q. That means it is p-Celtic. No brainer. But, if you personally think it should be developed for the benefit of the public I see no reason not to oblige. As I indicated in the reasons somewhere, this means more space and more words on linguistics. Come to think of it I think it would be nice to see if there has been any work done on locating such a tribal name in earlier peoples. After all the Indo-Europeans were great tatooers. Christianity pretty much wiped it but somehow it is back. I've seen some wonderful Scythian tatoos on motercycle club people. My kids were always after me for them to get the tatoo-similar body painting at fairs. One of my sons went for the real tatoos. Ladies too seem to like it a lot. Some of the beautiful women in my region sport the most beautiful works of skin art you ever saw, inviting you to look further. I will pass by the murder of people in Danzig so their tatooed skin could be sold as lampshades. Better perhaps also to pass by the drinking from the skulls of your enemies fashioned into nice cups. I suppose also we would want to pass by the good old Celtic custom of taking the head as a token and posting it on the poles of your hut. What? Why - good Lord, I don't see any of that stuff in the restorations of good old Celtic Britain! I know Hemingway has a thing or two to say about the local militias taking heads in the Spanish Civil War. Ah, the good old Celts in Old Celtovia. But I digress. We have another article where this material fits more comfortably, Britain (name). After all Pytheas was not a linguistics person. He did not discuss the linguistics of Britain. Those are our insertions. I think I will uninsert them from here and insert them there. Then I can do a better linguistic job because that is the topic of that article. Whatever Pytheas is made to mention here will stay here of course. So, the circus is activating another ring, and that will kill two birds with one stone. Ciao.Dave (talk) 03:31, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

Major problems with the Thule sections[edit]


I just encountered this article and while I can appreciate the effort and the good prose, unfortunately the article still falls short of Wikipedia standards. We are talking about an explorer whose report is the only antique Greek reference on the northern territories, a scientist who used pioneering methods largely unclear to both his contemporaries and to the modern scholars, an author whose works have been lost, with only one direct quote surviving, and an author whose work we know largely from a source (Strabo) that ridicules him and has perhaps never even read Pytheas. We are also talking about an author who has been interpreted by hundreds of authors since his age to the modern era. While a lot of this is disguised as historical research, the monumental lack of material renders it almost completely hearsay, guesswork, or fiction. Now it should be clear from these facts that indicative mood hardly suits this article and almost anything written on Pytheas should be strongly attributed, heavily critisized and as many alternatives as possible suggested. Unfortunately, the Thule sections of this article have not gone quite in this direction, currently reading like a huge OR. I will try to bring relevant passages as we go.

...island of Berrice, "the largest of all", which may be Lewis in the outer Hebrides. - According to whom? Is this the only interpretation? Now, the actual quote from the source goes: "the largest of all, from which the crossing to Thule starts / from which men make the voyage to Thule." How does this point to the Hebrides?

If Berrice was in the outer Hebrides, the crossing would have brought Pytheas to the vicinity of Trondheim, Norway, explaining how he managed to miss the Skagerrak. If this is his route, in all likelihood he did not actually circumnavigate Britain, but returned along the coast of Germany, accounting for his somewhat larger perimeter. - OR?

Concerning the location of Thule, a discrepancy in data caused subsequent geographers some problems, and may be responsible for Ptolemy's distortion of Scotland. - OR?

The parallel running through that mouth also passes through Celtica and is Pytheas' base line. Using 3700 or 3800 stadia (approximately 420–430 miles or 5.3°-5.4°) north of Marseilles for a base line obtains a latitude of 64.8° or 64.9° for Thule, well short of the Arctic Circle. It is in fact the latitude of Trondheim, where Pytheas probably made land. - OR?

Nansen points out that according to this statement, Pytheas was there in person and that the 21- and 22-hour days must be the customary statement of latitude by length of longest day. He calculates the latitudes to be 64° 32′ and 65° 31′, supporting Hipparchus' statement of the latitude of Thule. - This deserves much critisizm. The relevant quote from Geminus goes actually: "To the people even further to the north the longest day lasts for sixteen hours, and to the people even further to the north seventeen and eighteen. To these regions the Massalian Pytheas seems also to have come. He says at least in his treatise "On the Ocean": "the Barbarians showed us the place where the sun goes to rest. For it was the case that in these parts the nights were very short, in some places two, in others three hours long, so that the sun rose again a short time after it had set." First of all, the quote only proves Geminus thought Pytheas apparently was there in person. Second, astronomers traditionally do not count twilight as part of the night, which makes tremendous difference in high latitudes. How would Nansen know Pytheas' method for determining the length of the night? Third, the 17-18 h maximum day appears to be reported from the same spot as the 2-3 h night, which should be discussed.

The northernmost location cited in Britain at the Firth of Clyde is now northern Scotland. To get this country south of Britain to conform to Strabo's interpretation of Pytheas, Ptolemy has to rotate Scotland by 90°. - OR?

The 5000 stadia must be discounted: it crosses the Borysthenes upriver near Kiev rather than at the mouth.[28] It does place Pytheas on the Arctic Circle, which in Norway is just south of the Lofoten islands. On the surface it appears that Eratosthenes altered the base line to pass through the northern extreme of Celtica. Pytheas, as related by Hipparchus, probably cited the place in Celtica where he first made land. If he used the same practice in Norway, Thule is at least the entire northwest coast of Norway from Trondheim to the Lofoten Islands. - OR?

The mouth was further north than it is today; even so, 48.4° is up near Dnepropetrovsk. The Greeks must be allowed some inaccuracy for their measurements. In any case damming has changed the river a great deal and a few thousand years has been enough to change the courses of many rivers. - This is outrageous. Some damming has moved the Dniepr mouth and the Black Sea shore hundreds of kilometres to the south? Not only has the author of this any idea of the river development or shoreline geology, you also choose to use this fiction to come to a desired result and present it in an encyclopedia. I am shocked. Please see File:Ancient_Greek_Colonies_of_N_Black_Sea.png and remove this nonsense.

A manuscript variant of a name in Pliny has abetted the Iceland theory: Nerigon instead of Berrice, which sounds like Norway. If one sails west from Norway one encounters Iceland. Burton himself espoused this theory. - What manuscript variant? Why is this guesswork important?

Scythia stretches eastward from the mouth of the Vistula; thus Pytheas must have described the Germanic coast of the Baltic sea; if the statement is true, there are no other possibilities. As to whether he explored it in person, he said that he explored the entire north in person (see under Thule above). As the periplus was a sort of ship's log, he probably did reach the Vistula. - OR?

That number happens to be the distance from the mouth of the Skagerrak to the mouth of the Vistula, but no source says explicitly where the figure was taken. - OR?

"Mentonomon" is unambiguously stated to be an aestuarium or "estuary" of 6000 stadia, which using the Herodotean standard of 600 feet per stadium is 681 miles. That number happens to be the distance from the mouth of the Skagerrak to the mouth of the Vistula, but no source says explicitly where the figure was taken. Competing views, however, usually have to reinterpret "estuary" to mean something other than an estuary, as the west of the Baltic Sea is the only body of estuarial water of sufficient length in the region. - A water body of 681 miles is nothing we would call an estuary. Please remove this nonsense.

Strabo gives it as 24°, which may be based on a previous tangent of Pytheas, but he does not say. The Arctic Circle would then be at 66°, accurate to within a degree.[60] - Sounds very far fetched.

That is what Pytheas means when he says that Thule is located at the place where the Arctic Circle is identical to the Tropic of Cancer - It should be emphasized that this is just one interpretation and could actually mean anything we cannot relate to. Moreover, how does the Arctic location make sense with the local people using honey and grow millet or the 2-3 days of night at the summer solstice? I hope you can explain.

Regards, --Jaan Pärn (talk) 10:36, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks. I've been aware of problems with this article for some time but haven't had the energy or resources to work on it. Most of the material on Thule was added by one editor. You might want to see our article on Thule as well. Dougweller (talk) 13:03, 19 November 2012 (UTC)