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How Advancements In Cartography And Western Technologies Expanded The World

1071 words - 5 pages

Before the Europeans marked the Age of Exploration, curious sailors sometimes spoke stories of faraway lands, but everyone in their native country did not know very much of the expansion of continents between Asia and Europe. The Europeans had not even begun to think that cultivated Native American civilizations flourished in different sections of the world. In late 1492, Several European explorers searched for the “unknown” Americas trying to find inexpensive and quick sea routes to the Far East. While this was going on, more powerful central governments started to develop, paying for European expeditions, which they thought could make them profit. When Explorers started sailing all over ...view middle of the document...

Different nations around the world were on the search for goods such as gold and silver, but one major reason for exploration of distant lands was the hope to find a new route for the silk and spice trades. After the Ottoman Empire captured Constantinople in 1453, it blocked off the European's area to trade, making it very limited. Prince Henry conducted the first voyages and sponsored many ships to gain new knowledge about the world. These voyages were different than those previously lead by the Portuguese because they expanded a much wider area. Earlier sailors relied on Portola charts which mapped the navigation of land features. Because these charts relied on the ability to see land, the voyages prior to those conducted by Prince Henry stayed along the coastlines.
The first thing navigators wanted to improve was their mapping skills. In modern times, cartographers use digital imaging which constructs profoundly accurate and detailed maps. Old World mapmakers, however, made maps without any help from the modern technology we use today. Try to think about how difficult it would be to map inland rivers and coastlines with no bird's eye view of newfound geography! Yet, map-makers in this time were surprisingly precise, even with their limited knowledge of technology. Interestingly, Ptolemy mapped the ancient world inferring his thought that the earth was circular, calculating its mass, and separating it into a grid system of longitude and latitude long before the Age of Discovery. Mapmakers began to rediscover this Roman system of scholarship during the Renaissance which paved a path of technology advances in navigation.
The first to begin developing these techniques were the Portuguese. In 1416, Prince Henry the Navigator helped the Portuguese create maps by looking at the stars and using astrolabes and quadrants. Celestial navigation configured latitude by studying the sun and stars pattern of rotation. Several explorers did not use this method, but instead observed their route by dead reckoning, which used measurements of a ship’s speed and compass readings to determine the position of the ship. Both of these techniques used could only be efficient in measuring latitude; the technology needed to determine longitude was not yet known by the early navigators. In 1530,...

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