The Pytheas Voyage, a journey to the edge.


In the fourth century BC the Greek explorer Pytheas of Massilia claimed to have sailed six days north of Britain and reached a land he called Thule.  His account of the journey has long been lost, and so the exact location of this Thule remains a mystery. Scholars and historians have long speculated where the Pytheas Voyage may have sailed: Greenland, Iceland, Norway, the Shetland or Faroe Islands. Did the Pytheas Voyage reach any of these places, or had Pytheas only heard of a frozen northern land with six months of daylight and six months of night?

In any event the Pytheas Voyage introduced the word Thule into our language. A word that has come to mean a remote place in the far north, a cold place beyond human habitation, a place on the edge of a frozen sea, and often a place not found on any map. Like the Pytheas Voyage itself, the term Ultima Thule has come mean a journey to the far edge.  When one has reached Ultima Thule, one can travel no farther.

The Pytheas Voyage is the first recorded attempt to sail as far north as humanly possible, and my book Beyond the Edge is a historical account of the journeys that followed.  Even today modern explorers emulate the Pytheas Voyage as they attempt to find their Ultima Thule.                     

Interested in learning more about the Pytheas Voyage and Ultima Thule?  Get your copy of Beyond the Edge today!