Strabo and Geographica

Early Life of Strabo

Strabo was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher of the Roman period in Anatolia. Strabo, born in Amasya (called Amaseia during the Roman Era) town of Turkey today, is known as the world’s first geographer and gained fame with his geography book ”Geographica” describing the ancient world. Also, Strabo is thought to have had blood ties with Roman aristocrats.

Strabo and Geographica

Geographica Book of Strabo

Most of his 17-volume work named “Geographica” has survived to the present day. Although Strabo’s Geography has a historical feature, it also examines the relations between people, empires and the natural environment of the cities those he visited.

Strabo tells about the places with his own definitions and references. The narration sometimes turns into a historical presentation including the past events. Strabo lists information and humorous elements about the period as well as historical information. While explaining the historical geography of Anatolia in the XII, XIII and XIV chapters of his 17-volume Geographica book, he also gives detailed information about the Cilicia region and Tarsus city of Turkey today which is known to be the birthplace of Apostle Paul. Strabo conveys the information that enables us to understand the cultural, artistic, literary and intellectual environment especially about Tarsus of Anatolia.

Map of the World According to Strabo

Strabo, who had a good education in Nysa (Sultanhisar, Turkey today), one of the most important education centers of his era, traveled a lot and got to know this region very well, especially during his trips in and around Anatolia. In his seventeen chapter work known as Geography, he not only told about the places he visited and saw, but also gave detailed information about the historical events that took place there. Strabo stated that there is only one ocean in the world and that India can be reached by going westwards continuously.

He stayed in Rome until 31 BC. He toured Greece around 29 BC. Strabo went to Egypt in 28 BC. He traveled a large part of the Roman Empire. Strabo stayed in Rome and Alexandria for a long time. He studied both in Alexandria and Rome. He first adopted the views of Aristotle, but later he embraced the Stoa school philosophy.

Statue of Strabo in His Birthplace Amasya (Amaseia) in North Turkey Today
Map of Europa According to Strabo

In this work, he gave information on Spain, England, Italy, Greece, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, Iran and India, but this information is at an encyclopedic level and is also not at the same level for every region. He did not give the necessary importance to mathematical geography; because its purpose is to present a general view of the known Earth.

In his maturity Strabo wrote another book (today lost) called “Historica Hypomnemata” (Historical Memories). This work is 43 volumes and is a continuation of the history of Polybios, covering the period from the collapse of Corinth and Carthage (146 BC) to the death of Caesar or the Battle of Actium. There are only 19 pieces which were found unto today. Strabo is also the geologist who made the explanation of volcanism based on the first cause / effect relationship in the Ancient Period.

Cities and Provinces of Turkey visited by Strabo

Provinces visited by Strabo

  • Lycia et Pamphylia Province
  • Cilicia Province
  • The Roman province of Asia
  • Roman province of Mesopotamia
  • The Roman Province of Syria
  • Roman Province of Galatia
  • Roman Province of Thracia
  • Roman Province of Armenia
  • Roman Province of Cappadocia
  • Roman Province of Bithynia and Pontus

Cities visited by Strabo

  • The Troy and Ilium
  • Dardania
  • Ephesus
  • Assos
  • Pergamon
  • Smyrna
  • Sardis (Sardes)
  • Hierapolis
  • Phaselis
  • Tarsus
  • Aspendos
  • Myra
  • Miletos
  • Colophon
  • Side
  • Sagalassos
  • Selge

Hire Tour Guide in Turkey

Anatolia offers stories of a great number of ancient scientists. Strabo as a geographer is just one of them. Contact me to learn more on Strabo’s life and to hire a Turkish tour guide with license to learn more about Turkey’s past. See you soon, Hasan Gülday.

Hasan Gülday

Hasan Gülday. Professional licensed tour guide working in Turkey.

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