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34

In fact during the Age of Discovery, Africa had been the principle objective. It really begins with Prince Henry the Navigator, a son of the King of Portugal who had an intense fascination with Africa. In particular he was taken with the legend of Prester John, said to be a descendant of one of the Three Magi who presided over a magical land with marvels ...


33

Africa was relatively densely populated compared to North and South America. When Europeans landed in the Americas, they were sparsely populated, and the Indians often died from diseases brought by Europeans. The few that didn't were easily conquered by the Europeans, whom "advanced" cultures such as the Aztecs and Incas mistook for gods. The Africans had ...


24

Very poor terrain (harsh deserts, heavy rain forests) and very frightening diseases. Later advances in technology and especially medicine made the process tolerable and possible.


20

As to how they made it safely, don't be fooled by the fact that they only had 'canoes'; double-hulled ships are far more seaworthy than single hulls of a similar size. That's not to say it wasn't risky or difficult, but modern people have successfully followed the paths of early Polynesian migrations using traditionally designed boats and (more ...


18

Polynesians discovered and colonized pretty much the entire Pacific this way. Easter Island is one of their more impressive discoveries, but it isn't even the most impressive. That title has to go to Madagascar, which was settled from Borneo (about 5,000 miles away!). How did they do this? Well, the Polynesians were the ancient world's best navigators, and ...


17

As fate would have it, the first known globe of the Earth was created in 1492, the same year as Columbus' voyage. As such, it is also the only known globe to depict the area between Western Europe and East Asia prior to the discovery of the New World. None of the earlier flat maps I could find made any kind of legitimate effort at depicting this area. The ...


16

We can be fairly certain that humans did not live on Antarctica, the continent, before the 20th century. Since about 15 Ma, the continent has been mostly covered with ice. Ref: Trewby, Mary, ed. Antarctica: An Encyclopedia from Abbott Ice Shelf to Zooplankton. Firefly Books. ISBN 1-55297-590-8. Intermittent warm periods allowed Nothofagus shrubs to ...


15

It's not a full answer, but if you're interested by medieval Arabic travels, the unavoidable reference is Ibn Baṭūṭah. In his Rihla, he describes three travels he made during the 14th century : from Tangiers to middle-East, with a travel along the East coast of Africa, down to Zanbar and Kilwa. (map here) from Mecca to Beijing, and back, through Eastern ...


12

Columbus' origins are a bit of a mystery. He himself claimed to have been born in Genoa, but this may have been a ruse according to some. http://www.christopher-columbus.eu/birth-1492.htm lists the most notable claims, Poland is not among those. What all the possible locations have in common is that they're in southern Europe, a quick look at the map shows ...


12

England The city of Bristol was the hub of English expeditions into the Atlantic. Several voyages were launched from her harbours, the second largest in England, around the time of Columbus. Bristol's mariners were inspired by the legendary phantom island of Brasil, which is said to lie off the western coast of Ireland(1). There is some evidence[2] that at ...


12

In terms of Chinese naval explorers in general, Zheng He springs to mind. He was one of China's primary explorers in the Indian Ocean and beyond in the 14th and 15th centuries. Around this time, the Europeans had been venturing eastward. Zheng He went westward to the "Western Oceans", going to India and the Middle East by sea in an attempt to show China's ...


11

Malaria I'd actually leave it at that, if the posting software let me. But to elaborate, Europeans actually did actively try to colonize Africa continuously during the Age of Discovery. The problem was that Malaria killed them off quicker than more could be sent. The only place it really worked was in South Africa, which was too temparate for Malaria to ...


10

This quote came from the first paragraph of this page, which is in Russian. This is an approximate translation. By September 2007 the North Pole had been visited 66 times by different surface ships: 54 times by Soviet and Russian icebreakers, 4 times by Swedish Oden, 3 times by German RV Polarstern, 3 times by USCGC Healy and USCGC Polar Sea, and once by ...


10

The map shows the general shape of South an Central America, and the general shape of the Atlantic coast of North America. If it shows it in "such detail" or not is a matter of opinion. Sure, a lot of things are correct, but a lot of things are incorrect. The question then is how they could know the general shape of South and Central America at all, and the ...


9

The question is a bit confusing. The way I read it, you're asking why something expensive has enough demand to sustain a profitable trade ("How did the high price of spices allow such high demand?"). The answer is that it wasn't that expensive. A pound of spices might cost several days' worth of wages for an average craftsman, but a pound of pepper is a lot ...


7

Because the Sahara desert goes all the way to the Atlantic coast. The Romans were not great seafarers and required the support of coastal towns to cover long distances. The Western Sahara represents a break in that chain, over 1000 km of inhospitable coastline. Even today, Western Sahara is one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world with an ...


6

For reference, here is the official classification from Wikipedia of the conditions necessary for a "pleasant" Antarctic day: Condition 3 Windspeed below 48 knots (55 miles per hour) Visibility greater than 1/4 of a mile (402 meters) Wind chill above −75 °F (−60 °C) Description: Pleasant conditions; all outside travel is permitted. Condition 3 ...


6

The New World was much easier. European diseases spread rapidly, wiping out the local population, and 'clearing the land'. In Africa, the locals had the same immunity to the likes of smallpox as the Europeans, so it wasn't 'cleared' as quickly. It also has diseases of it's own (e.g. malaria) that would hinder someone coming in.


6

Manuel da Silva Rosa, an information technology analyst, claims that Columbus was the son of Władysław III of Poland (and Hungary, but for some reason nobody seems to mention that). To make this claim, he has to first claim that Władysław III, who died in a battle in 1444 without having children and had his head displayed on a pole, for no good reason faked ...


5

This story was also noticed by all Polish media. In the Polish Radio channel 4 (link) there was an programme about Manuel Rosa, "Portuguese historian, from Azores. He works on Duke University in Northern Carolina. Fluent in seven languages​​, has been hailed as the greatest living repository of knowledge about Columbus. He studies [Columbus'] life for over ...


5

I think this is a valid question. But the answer is a rather resounding no. For one thing, we have no shred of evidence for such a conjecture. For another, this conjecture cannot be squared at all with the fact that Columbus to his dying day insisted on having actually landed in India - had he been dissimulating about his knowledge of the existence of ...


5

I recommend reading Ian Morris' book Why The West Rules - For Now. He discusses this topic in a few chapters. Although Ming Dynasty China had ships which could cross the Pacific and sail around the entire world, the government ministers chose not to. (The Ming Emperor was 12 years old at the time, so the government mandarins would have been making the ...


4

Melting in the Arctic will not directly help finding the ships as they are likely sunk or stripped by locals for their metals. Arctic resource exploration may cause them to be found simply for the greater number of people poking around with instruments up there. HMS Investigator, a ship lost searching for Franklin, was found by Parks Canada in 2010 by ...


4

The following passage from Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan would lend some credence to the first two explanations of remarkable discoveries of a fallen civilization: The sight of this unexpected monument put at rest at once and forever, in our minds, all uncertainty in regard to the character of American antiquities, and ...


4

0 meters, as the known world (that is, known by Europeans, which I assume you mean) already included parts of the "new world", ie Greenland and the coast of Canada. As for the distance between the "old world" (ie Afro-Eurasia) and the "new world" (ie the Americas), the Bering Straight is about 80 kilometers wide. However, very few people live either side ...


4

Although the Lewis and Clark expedition ended on September 23, 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark remained close both personally and professionally up until the death of Meriwether Lewis on October 11, 1809. Lewis, Clark and Clark's wife Julia actually lived together for a short time (ca. 1808) in St. Louis, Missouri. Julia Clark gave birth to a son ...


4

Because their ships weren't up to very long sea voyages, particularly if they didn't know where they were going. The coast of northwest Africa is dangerous. The Portuguese called part of it the Cabo Bojador, which means the Cape of Fear. They didn't manage to get past that until the 15th century. The Romans were nothing like as sophisticated in terms of ...


3

It is pretty logical. Back in time there were no electronic, car and many industries, and the wealth - gold and silver - of the world arrived to Europe - mainly to nobles and kings. There was a big portion of extra wealth available to spend, and it was an interesting luxury item since those times the spices in foods were very limited in europe due to the ...


3

According to this page, Rapa Nui's latitude is -28, almost -30. That is a border between zones of prevailing eastern winds (to the North from -30) and prevailing western winds (to the South), according to the map. Another point is that the navigation of the Polinesians was a right-angle one. They sailed first along the meridian (by polar star or Southern ...



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