Nikos Mamalos at the 15th HEIRNET (History Educators Research Network) Conference, 31st August - 2nd September 2018
Panayotis Potagos was the greatest Greek traveller of the 19th century. He was born at Bytina of Arcadia in 1837 and his death occurred at Nymphe of Corfu in 1903 where he lived as a hermit. He studied medicine in Athens and began his travels in 1867. He visited Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Gobi Desert, and India. He arrived in Egypt in 1876, ascending the Nile River to southern Sudan and finally reached the Uele River of Congo. With almost no means and funds he tried to locate Hellenistic relics in Asia and in Africa and to describe the ethics and the customs of the local and foreign population. He tried to compete the greatest explorers of his time e.g. G. Schweinfurth and collaborate with National Geographical Societies of Europe. He published an account of his travels (first volume) in 1883, which was translated in French 1885. This presentation is based mainly on his unpublished material. At a time of colonialism Panayotis Potagos proposed improvements in the lives of local African populations in accordance with the humanitarian spirit. While local populations were being degraded by the French, British and Belgian authorities, he insisted in the value of local culture. Besides that, his efforts for peace in Afghanistan, where there was a conflict among the descendants of the king at the second half of 19th century, indicate a spirit of solidarity and peaceful settlement.