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The first sea voyage round Africa: c.600 BC

The pharaoh Necho II sends a fleet of Phoenician ships south through the Red Sea to discover whether Africa is entirely surrounded by water. Their achievement of this astonishing feat of exploration might easily be assigned to the realms of legend.

But Herodotus, in his account, mentions one detail which he dismisses as highly improbable. Instead, it proves the story true. He says that the sailors, when they came back, claimed that during the furthest part of their journey they saw the sun to the north of them.

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