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Pytheas, the travelling astronomer

De Louis Decque


The astronomer and mathematician Pytheas lived in Massalia (Marseilles) a flourishing Greek city, in 400 BC. At that time the Greek scholars already knew the earth was round so they asked themselves other questions: is the earth steady or does it move? Is it at the centre of all things ?

Pytheas, a pragmatic scientist, embarked himself on an incredible journey for his time. He decided to reach the North Pole to see by himself that his scientific hypotheses were grounded. During his journey he made several observations that he described in his book On the Ocean. Unfortunately, this book has disappeared. How can today’s researchers assemble the puzzle of this geographic and scientific adventure?