Sylax of Caryanda

The early Greeks did not make the exploration of the eastern Mediterranean their goal until tales of the riches from India and beyond made their way to the shores of Greece. The first nation that attracted Greek attention was Persia (modern Iran) and the land-based commerce that came from there. In c. 510-515 BCE, Sylax, a Carian sailor in service to the Persians, made a voyage of exploration along the shores of the Indian Ocean. He was sent by King Darius Hystapis, who wanted to know where the Indus River flowed into the sea. At the time, the Indus was believed to be the only river other than the Nile in which crocodiles lived. Accompanied by Ionian Greeks, Sylax entered the Indus River near modern-day Attock, followed it to the mouth, and then sailed along the shore westwards. He sailed around unknown parts of Arabia and into the Red Sea, landing near present-day Suez. The Persians held Egypt at that time so Sylax would have arrived back in territory controlled by those who sponsored his voyage. It took him two and a half years (possibly delayed by monsoons) and he probably engaged in trade activities while cruising the coastline. In the ancient world, Sylax was so famous for his voyage that a naval handbook was published under his name in the fourth century BCE.