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HerodotusOnGeologicTime

In Book 2 Part 11 of The History Herodotus takes a surprisingly modern, scientific view of the millennia-long processes of erosion and deposition. In the David Greene translation:

There is in Arabia, not far from Egypt, a gulf of the sea entering in from the sea called Red; its length and narrowness are as I shall show. For length, if one begins a voyage from its inner end, to sail right through into the broad sea is a matter of forty days for a boat that is rowed. In breadth, at its broadest, the gulf is only a half day's voyage. It has floodtide and ebb every day. I think that once on a time Egypt was just such another gulf; there was one gulf running from the northern sea toward Ethiopia, the other, the Arabian, of which I shall speak, bearing from the south toward Syria; their ends bored into the land near to one another but left a small strip of ground in between. If the Nile should now turn its stream into the Arabian Gulf, what would hinder it from being silted up inside of twenty thousand years? For myself, I could well believe that it would do so within ten thousand. How, then, in the huge lapse of time before my birth, would a gulf not be silted up — a gulf even much larger than this one — when the river concerned was so vast and so hard-working?

(as Greene notes, Herodotus's "Red Sea" is what we call the Indian Ocean; his "gulf of the sea entering in" is our Red Sea; his "northern sea" is our Mediterranean)


TopicScience - TopicLiterature - Datetag20070313


(correlates: HerodotusOnFreedom, HerodotusOnWarAndPeace, ThingsToWriteAboutSomeDay0702, ...)