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Gibraltar


        The Pillars of Hercules


































                                                       Guarding the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean are two
           "it was around 400 BC that                  mountains, the Rock of Gibraltar at 426 metres to the north and
          the term ‘Pillars of Hercules’               the much higher Jebel Musa at 851 metres in Morocco to the
                                                       south, the Pillars of Hercules. At this point, the Straits are just 14
               was first mentioned."                   kilometres wide and, even today, a dangerous place to be due
                                                       to the strong currents. The Atlantic Ocean is one metre higher
                                                       than the Mediterranean due to the Med evaporating faster than
                                                       it can be refilled from rivers. There is a constant stream of water
                                                       from west to east as the Atlantic tries to top up the
                                                       Mediterranean. That is why, on our side of the Mediterranean,
                                                       the sea feels cool even in the summer as far up the coast as
                                                       Marbella where the cold Atlantic waters start to disperse south
                                                       into the bulk of the Mediterranean Sea. Navigators must also
                                                       cope with the tidal streams that flow west to east and east to
                                                       west and the wind that, for the majority of the year is funnelled
                                                       between the land masses and blows west to east, a wind that is
                                                       known as the Poniente, or east to west, the Levante. Just west
                                                       of Gibraltar is Tarifa, reputed to be the windiest place in Europe.
                                                       Nobody knows who invented the first boat, or where it was
                                                       invented. Circumstantial evidence indicates the Australian
                                                       aborigines crossed from Bali to Lombok about 50,000 years
                                                       ago but the oldest proper boat, a log canoe, was found in
                                                       Holland. It is dated to about 8000 BC. A craft of this nature,
                                                       however, would not have been very safe on the Mediterranean
                                                       Sea. A 7000-year-old seagoing boat made from reeds and tar
                                                       has been found at Kuwait and was probably paddled in the
                                                       coastal waters of the Persian Gulf. The Mesopotamians and
                                                       Egyptians started to experiment with sails about 3000 BC and
                                                       rapidly developed seagoing vessels the designs of which were
                                                       copied by the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Phoenicians,
                                                         Persians and Greeks. Certainly, by 2500 BC, the Phoenicians
                                                            were using seagoing vessels with keels and sails to trade
                                                            between Egypt and the civilisations at the eastern end of
                                                            the Mediterranean. Over the next thousand years, they

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