In his book «Hõbevalge» (Silver White) dating 1976 and its sequel «Hõbevalgem» seven years later, Mr Meri wrote that four centuries BC the major Ancient explorer Pytheas reached the territory of what is now Estonia. He claimed that the mysterious Thule mentioned by Pytheas was actually Saaremaa.
Even so, when digging into it – just like Prof Talvik the history fan did, five years ago – you will discover that in most discourses the version of the mythical Thule as Saaremaa is not presented. Largely, researchers think Thule is either Iceland, or some islands near coasts of Great Britain or Norway.
Yesterday, the studies by Mr Talvik (80) were presented to the nation, having penned into a thorough work labelled «Teekond maailma ääreni» (Voyage to the Edge of the World) wherein he proves that the Greek explorer Pytheas indeed reached all the way to Saaremaa, as was decades ago claimed by Mr Meri – unlike others who have delved into the topic.
This was no easy feat, as the description of travels by Pytheas has not been preserved. Therefore, later researchers have used texts where other Antique authors talk about the voyage by Pytheas and his observations, and have on their basis arrived at greatly varying conclusions as to where the man actually travelled during the five years. To complicate work for researchers, the place names used by Pytheas are not the same today.
To begin with, Mr Talvik tried to get a better picture of who Pytheas (who lived about 350–285 BC) actually was. «If I get to know his personality, from there I can guess and derive his activity as well,» he explains.
Based on Antique sources, Mr Talvik ascertained that Pytheas was a simple man, poor, a lower class guy. «Being poor, he had no fleet as some mistakenly believe,» he refutes one assumption. «Fleets weren’t just handed out to people.»
From there, Mr Talvik concluded while building on scarce sources that Pytheas had to have been wise. «When, alone, you embark on a voyage for years thro wild lands – back then, most were Barbarians – and you survive, you must be a good communicator and a friendly man,» he said. «The man had no money. I’m sure they gave him an oar and said shut up and row.»
Using the vast databases on Antique writers, Mr Talvik divided all quotes on Pytheas according to their reliability and verifiability, into three groups. The first, for example, contained such where his own books were quoted, and the second where it was quoted what Pytheas had said. Comparing and analysing the quotes, Mr Talvik also discovered such as were obviously invented. «In one place it is indirectly referred,» he notes, «that Thule is at a place where the day lasts for six months and the night likewise. Meaning the North Pole. This is too much, that Pytheas discovered North Pole.»