Page images









The Antiquity of GEOGRAPHY.

HE ftudy of Geography appears to have been diligently cultivated in the earlier ages of the world. The ancient Egyptian priests, the Babylonians and Chaldeans, not only taught it, but transmitted it to pofterity, wrapped up in hieroglyphics, fymbols, enigmas, and fables.

Homer is supposed to have first introduced this fcience into Greece. In his poems he has given us an exact description of that country, mentioned particularly its cities, mountains, and plains, and traced out the courses of its rivers, with Afia Minor, and the nations bordering on the Hellefpont.

* Strabo.



The first among the ancient Philofophers who at tempted to delineate the earth in the form of a map, was Anaximander *, the fucceffor of Thales, the celebrated founder of the Ionic School: and Socrates is faid to have fhewn to his fcholar Alcibiades, a chart or map, on which was drawn the earth, divided into land and water. Varro tells us, that the Romans had hung up in the temples of Tellus, tables or maps of the earth.

This is a fufficient proof of the great industry of the Ancients, in cultivating this most useful science; without which the intercourfe of nations with each other, and the various revolutions in ftates by wars, conquefts, and migrations, would be obfcure and unintelligible.


The Figure of the EARTH.

WILD and extravagant were the notions the Ancients had with regard to the Figure of the


Those of the earliest times fuppofed it to be one large extenfive plane; the Heavens above it, in which the fun, moon, and ftars appeared to move daily from east to west, they conceived to be at no great distance from it, and Hell as fpread out at an equal depth all under the furface of itt: others, as abfurdly, taught that it was concave; fome, again, that it was oblong, or a parallelogram; and others, that it was quadrangular.

The form of a femi-circle we find afcribed to it by Crates; and that of a round table by Hipparchus.

* Γῆς καὶ θαλάσσης περιμέτρου πρώτος εγραψεν. Diog. Laertius. + Hence they had paffages that were fuppofed to lead directly to Hell, in every country; as the lakes of Avernus and Amfanctus for Italy. "It is indifferent to me (fays Anaxagoras) where you bury me, for my journey to the other world will be juft the fame."

[blocks in formation]

The form of a fling was given to it by Pofidonius; and Leucippus resembled it to a drum.

Such were the idle dreams of the old philofophers; which were in time confuted by the affiftance of mathematical learning, and the experience of travellers, navigators, and aftronomers; by which the spherical figure of the earth has invincibly been demonftrated *.


The Peopling and Divifion of the EARTH. THE earth was once in a confufed and defolate ftate; but by divine Providence, in the space of fix days, reduced into an habitable world: cloathed with trees, fhrubs, plants, and flowers, and stocked with various kinds of animals.

Sixteen hundred and fifty-fix years after the earth was made and inhabited, it was overflowed and deftroyed by a deluge of water; fo that a general deftruction and devaftation was brought upon the earth and all things in it, mankind, and every living animal; excepting Noah and his family, who, by a fpecial care of GOD, were preferved in a certain ark or veffel, with fuch kinds of living creatures as he took in with him.

After these waters had raged for some time on the earth, they began to leffen and fhrink; they retired by degrees into their proper channels and caverns within the earth; and the mountains and fields began to appear, and the whole habitable earth in that form and shape we now see it.

Thus perished the old world, and the present arofe from the ruins and remains of it!

Noah, when he came forth of the ark, fettled in Mefopotamia, and before his death, divided the world among his three fons; giving to Shem, Afia; to Ham, Africa; and to Japhet, Europe.

* See this explained and delineated in Turner's Modern Geography, p, 2.

B 2


The defcendants of Shem fettled from Media weftward to the fea-coaft of Aram or Syria.

His fons

were Elam, Afhur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.

1. ELAM poffeffed the country now called Perfia. From him it had the names of Elyme and Elymais.

II. ASHUR fettled on the weft or north-west of Elam in Affyria, called likewife after him Afhur, at prefent Cardestan.

III. ARPHAXAD peopled Chaldea.

IV. LUD is fuppofed to have wandered as far as Lydia.

V. ARAM and his defcendants inhabited Armenia,, Mefopotamia, and Syria. From his fon Uz, a tract about Damafcus, the Stony and Defert Arabia, was called the Land of Uz.

The second fon of Noab, HAM, removed into Egypt, which, in Scripture, is often called the Land of Ham. The fons of Ham were Cusн, MIZRAIM, CANAAN, and PHUT.

I. CUSH, his eldest fon, poffeffed Arabia.

II. MIZRAIM and his defcendants inhabited Ethiopia, Lybia, Egypt, and the neighbouring coun


III. CANAAN and his pofterity fettled in Phenicia, and the Land of Canaan, lying on the east and southeaft of the Mediterranean fea. This was the land afterwards promised to Abraham, which he and his pofterity accordingly enjoyed, and was then the Land of Ifrael and Judah.

IV. PHUT, the youngest fon of Ham, planted himself in the western parts of Africa, on the Mediterranean, in the country of Mauritania, whence this country was called the Region of Phut, in St. Jerome's time.

The Scripture leaves us very much in the dark, as to the country where Japhet, the eldest fon of Noah, fettled. All we can collect upon this occafion is, that he retired with his defcendants to the north of the countries planted by the children of




I. GOMER, the eldest son of Japhet, was the father of the Gomerites, called by the Greeks, Galatians; who were the Gauls of Afia Minor, inhabiting part of Phrygia.

The families of Gomer foon grew very numerous, and fent divers colonies into feveral parts of Europe. They first fettled at the lake Mæotis, and fo gave the name of Befphorus Cimmerius to the ftreight between it and the Euxine fea. These, in time, fpreading by new colonies, along the Danube, fettled in the country called from thence Germany, whose ancient inhabitants were the Cimbri, fo called of the Cimmerians. From Germany, they afterwards spread themselves into Gaul, where they were originally called Gomerites, then by the Greeks Galata, and at last Gauls.

From the colonies of Gaul or Germany, came the firft inhabitants of this our ifle of GREAT BRITAIN.

II. MAGOG, the second son of Japhet, was the father of the Scythians; from whose descendants, migrating over Caucafus, it is fuppofed the Ruffians and Mofcovites fprung.

III. MADAI, it is generally agreed, planted Media, and the Medes are called by his name in Scripture.

IV. JAVAN fettled in the fouth-weft part of Afia Minor, about Ionia. He had four children, Elisha, TARSHISH, KITTIM, and DODANIM.

1. ELISHA peopled the most confiderable ifles between Europe and Afia; for they are called in Scripture the Iles of Elifba; and the fea itself might be called Hellefpont, as if it were Elishpont, or fea of Elifba.

The descendants of Elifba paffing over into Europe, were called Hellenes, and their country Hellas, and afterwards Greece.

2. TARSHISH gave name to Turfus, and all Cilicia, of which it was the capital. It seems alfo to have been the Tarfbifh to which Jonas thought to flee from the prefence of the Lord.

B 3


« PreviousContinue »