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1-1000 AD
map of the Earth depicting ancient trade routes, following text describes

The Ancient World - Phoenicians

Little is known of the origins of this group of traders, though their roots are in the eastern Mediterranean. Driven by the desire to acquire new and more cost-effective sources of raw materials and to sell their products to markets other than in their homeland, the Phoenicians covered enormous distances. They were among the first to trace routes to the western Mediterranean and beyond the Pillars of Hercules (the Straits of Gibraltar) toward the Atlantic coasts of
Africa and Europe.

At the end of the seventh century B.C., the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho commissioned Phoenician sailors to sail around the continent of Africa. Herodotus, a Greek traveler and geographer, described this journey two hundred years later in his history, written sometime in the 5th century B.C. "We know it Africa to be washed on all sides by the sea, except where it is attached to Asia." "On [the sailors'] return," Herodotus continues, "they declared that in sailing round Libya they had the sun on their right hand," or were sailing north and east. This statement, which those early voyagers of the 7th century B.C. could not have made up, indicates that the Phoenician sailors did indeed circumnavigate the continent of Africa, well before any European.

Archaeologists have discovered that the Phoenicians used coastal and deep-water routes for both trade and voyages of discovery. Coastal sailors only sailed during the day, from one village to another, always keeping land in sight. Deep-water sailors took routes farther away from the coastline but kept sight of land. When sailing at night, sailors kept their ship in the right direction by observing constellations and the North Star, or what the ancient world called the "Phoenician Star."

big and little dipper constellations with the north star highlighted