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The fragile nature of papyrus, as a writing medium, meant that older texts not copied onto expensive parchment would eventually crumble and be lost.
After the Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) and the Sack of Constantinople (1204), scholars such as William of Moerbeke gained access to the original Greek texts of scientists and philosophers, including Aristotle, Archimedes, Hero of Alexandria and Proclus, that had been preserved in the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, and translated them directly into Latin.
The Periplus, a merchants' guidebook which described the sea routes used by traders from Phoenicia and Tartessos, possibly dating to as early as the 6th century BC, contains the most ancient identification of Malaca as Mainake.
It gives an account of a sea voyage circa 525 BC from Massalia (Marseille) along the western Mediterranean coast.
Tartessiorum iuris illic insula antistat urbem, Noctilucae ab incolis sacrata pridem. In front of the town lies an island formerly dedicated by the inhabitants to Noctiluca.
On the island is a marsh and a safe harbour; the town of Menace is above.
Lorenzo Valla (1407–1457) translated Thucydides and Herodotus.
Interest in Greek texts and their availability was scarce in the Latin West during the earlier Middle Ages, but as traffic to the East increased so did Western scholarship.
Classical Greek philosophy consisted of various original works ranging from those from Ancient Greece (e.g.
The final decline and collapse of the Byzantine empire in the fifteenth century heightened contact between its scholars and those of the west. Guarino da Verona (1370–1460) translated Strabo and Plutarch.
Translation into Latin of the full range of Greek classics ensued, including the historians, poets, playwrights and non-Aristotelian philosophers. Poggio Bracciolini (1380–1459) translated Xenophon, Lucan and Diodorus.