By Danny Lee Davis
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Extra resources for Commercial Navigation in the Greek and Roman World (PhD University of Texas at Austin 2009)
Its waters span some 3,800 km west to east and nearly 1,100 km north to south. A coastline of some 22,000 km—a distance equivalent to more than half the circumference of the earth—encloses an area approaching 3,000,000 km2. Only the Caribbean (2,718,200 km2) and South China Sea (2,319,000 km2) are comparable. The long corridor separating Europe from Africa is naturally split into two major basins of unequal size by a broad and relatively shallow sill beneath the Sicilian Strait. Coastal 17 ranges of various heights and depths rim nearly the entire northern shore of both basins.
The geographical problems of the two gulfs are discussed by Janni 1984, 141–2. C. (see below, page 213). These and other shore structures enabled passing and port-bound seafarers to acquire their orientation along a virtually featureless horizon. The single yet major exception to the low elevations along this coast is the plateau of Cyrenaica, situated on a broad bump in the North African coast opposite Crete’s western extremity. The high, terraced plateau of the Gebel Akhdar begins its rise to 800 m only 1 km from the coast.
I was treading the back of the Tyrrhenian Sea, but with my ship I was capsized and sunk beneath the waves in a sudden violent squall. It is not the same wind that blows on the threshingfloor and billows the sails. 2 The configuration of the coasts, the nature of currents, the patterns of winds and seasons, and the dynamic nature of visibility at sea—all of these factors contributed to the great range of variables that were encountered and defined the limited range of solutions that could be found to navigate safely and effectively.