c. 470 BC | West Africa

Gorilla Warfare

Hanno encounters a formidable foe.

Sailing along by the fiery torrents for three days, we came to a bay called Horn of the South.

In the recess of this bay there was an island with a lake in which there was another island, full of savage men.

There were women too, in even greater number. They had hairy bodies, and the interpreters called them gorillas. When we pursued them we were unable to take any of the men—for they all escaped by climbing the steep places and defending themselves with stones—but we took three of the women, who bit and scratched their leaders and would not follow us. So we killed them and flayed them, and brought their skins to Carthage. For we did not voyage farther, provisions failing us.



From the Periplus of Hanno. This periplus, or pilot book, intended to guide merchants from port to port, records the travels of the Carthaginian explorer Hanno, who sailed with sixty ships and thirty thousand men and women from present-day Tunisia, through the Strait of Gibraltar, to what is thought to be present-day Sierra Leone. He founded cities, trading posts, and a temple along the way. The account of his journey was preserved in a tenth-century Greek manuscript.