Polybius cut out in stone


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Polybius (200-118BC) The Histories.

Taken from: POLYBIUS, The Histories | Loeb Classical Library
The book got lost, only fragments in other books remain.
Book 34
(From Geminus, Elements of Astronomy,)
Polybius the historian has composed a book with the title On the parts of the globe under the Celestial Equator, that is to say in the middle of the torrid zone. He says that the region is inhabited, and has a more temperate climate than that of those who inhabit extremities of the torrid zone. On the one hand he cites the accounts given by those who have actually visited the region, and can testify to the fact, and on the other he argues from the nature of the sun's movements...

The most probable way he could have met people traveling to the equator in by talking to S.Arabian and Greek merchants who sailed the Red Sea and then down the East-African Coast. The South Arabian tribes as Pliny recalls were by then already the most prosperous people in the world. (Because of that trade, and the Indian trade)
The other probability is that he met with traders from caravans linking the Mediterranean coast through the dessert up to the fringes of the Sahel during his stay in N-Africa where Polybius was present to see the destruction of Cartage. And we know for sure that he met such people. (See the next extract of his work) Still he is the first classical author to collect proof of people (in big numbers, so that there was big trade and money involved) living in a lush environment south of the dessert in Africa. All others thought that the heat was to big for any live in the middle of the Torrid Zone.

He must have studied a lot about Africa as is seen in the following extracts:
Pliny (Natural History) The size of the elephants' tusks is chiefly to be observed in the temples, but still in the extreme parts of Africa which border on Aethiopia they are used in houses as door-posts, and palings round houses and stables are constructed of tusks, as Polybius tells us on the authority of the African prince Gulusa.

Pliny the Elder records that the Greek historian Polybius sailed down along the west coast of Africa in ships lent to him by his friend Scipio Aemilianus when the latter was involved in the Third Punic War around 146 B.C. However it has proved impossible to reconstruct details of his voyage or how far he succeeded in going.

And in book 3 he also says:
Just as with regard to Asia and Africa where they meet in Aethiopia no one up to the present has been able to say with certainty whether the southern extension of them is continuous land or is bounded by a sea...