World Exploration From Ancient Times

By Britannica

  • Genre : Encyclopedia and Dictionary
  • Publisher :
  • ISBN : 978 1615354542
  • Year : 2011
  • Language: English


LEARN EXPLORE World Exploration from Ancient Times CHICAGO Compton s by LONDON PARIS NEW DELHI Britannica SEOUL SYDNEY TAIPEI TOKYO Learn Explore series World Exploration from Ancient Times Compton s by Britannica Copyright 2011 by Encyclop dia Britannica Inc Copyright under International Copyright Union All rights reserved Britannica Encyclop dia Britannica and the thistle logo are registered trademarks of Encyclop dia Britannica Inc No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical including photocopying recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher International Standard Book Number 978-1-61535-455-9 eBook Britannica may be accessed at http www britannica com on the Internet Cover background iStockphoto Thinkstock front cover top left L Prang and Company Library of Congress Washington D C neg no LC-USZC2-1687 top right center Photos com Jupiterimages bottom right Getty Images back cover left center right Photos com Jupiterimages top NASA www britannica com iii EDITOR S PREFACE Whether it be land sea or space what lies beyond one s physical limitations has always piqued the interest of the human race This book takes a look at exploration of Earth s land masses from early times Although the primary motivation for different exploratory missions may have varied throughout the years one recurring theme has always been curiosity Venturing out to find what lies beyond is a part of human nature The story of world exploration is often a compelling one World Exploration from Ancient Times organizes this material by region Eurasia Europe and Asia the Americas Australia and the Pacific Islands Africa and the Polar Regions and employs the use of 140 maps and photos to aid in illustrating the story In addition quotations from several key explorers are sprinkled throughout the text Sidebars and several pages of mini-biographies World Explorers at a Glance round out the body of the book The introduction opposite the editor s overview was contributed by Stephen P Davis geography contributor for several articles in Compton s Encyclopedia and graduate instructor at the University of Illinois at Chicago His article on Australia in Compton s served as the jumping off point for the section on Australia and the Pacific Islands Begin your journey by reading Davis introduction on page vi and the editor s overview on page 1 As a previous editor in chief of Compton s Encyclopedia once said of the set whether the incentive to open the books came from the suggestion of parents from the requirements of schoolwork or from the child s own natural curiosity upon these pages would rest a responsibility greater than merely offering bare answers to isolated questions They must arouse interest they must give color and significance and due emphasis to the facts they must relate them to other essential facts in short they must give more than the young reader has the experience to ask for This is true not only of Compton s Encyclopedia today but of the Learn Explore series as well iv STAFF Anthony L Green INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND RETRIEVAL SENIOR EDITOR Andrea Field Carmen-Maria Hetrea Director COPY John Higgins Sheila Vasich EDITOR Sylvia Wallace Director Dennis Skord Supervisor PRODUCTION CONTROL ART AND COMPOSITION MEDIA ASSET MANAGEMENT ENCYCLOP DIA BRITANNICA INC Steven N Kapusta Director Jeannine Deubel Manager Jacob E Safra Chairman of the Board Kurt Heintz Jorge Aguilar-Cauz President CARTOGRAPHY Michael Ross Senior Vice President Corporate Development Illustrator Christine McCabe Layout Graphic Designer Michael Nutter Manager Cate Nichols Ken Chmielewski PHOTOS MANUFACTURING Kathy Nakamura Manager Kim Gerber Director Marilyn L Barton EDITORIAL LIBRARY Henry Bolzon Head Librarian Robert M Lewis Lars Mahinske Photo Editor Kimberly L Cleary Dale H Hoiberg Senior Vice President and Editor Marsha Mackenzie Executive Director Media and Production v N E W N W N E SE SW TABLE OF CONTENTS S Introduction vi Overview 1 Eurasia 2 The Americas 19 Australia and the Pacific Islands 49 Africa 62 The Polar Regions 78 World Explorers at a Glance 96 Further Resources 104 Index 105 vi INTRODUCTION This introduction was contributed by Stephen P Davis former Associate Editor Encyclop dia Britannica Graduate Instructor in the Department of Anthropology and Geography University of Illinois at Chicago and author of popular and scholarly articles on geography history sociology of religion and cultural anthropology Why do we seem driven to explore Is exploration a gift of the human condition that raises us above the animals Or does it instead link us with the biological world and other wandering migrating and mobile species to a degree that some would not care to admit Our common ancestors became bipedal millions of years ago and Homo sapiens explored within and beyond Africa 150 000 to 50 000 years ago What drove them as far as Australia Hawaii and the southern tip of South America Instinct The sublime Or a matrix that we can barely imagine Whatever the reason we seem compelled to honor those sharing their spirit Many of our films novels and hearthside tales focus on risk-takers bringers of knowledge and discoverers regardless of the chaos and lamentation that can follow in their wakes whether the diseases carried by Columbus to the Americas in 1492 the abuses wrought on Australia s Aborigines in the 1800s or the slavery and warfare that European incursions sparked in Africa We may wish to emulate explorers to attain their heights of ability and self-reliance Or just maybe we share a suspicion that history could not have unfolded without their intrusions though we hope that is not the guiding light of our fate We thrill to Balboa s discovery of the Pacific Ocean which was already known to local peoples though it contributed to Pizarro s conquest of the Inca Empire Likewise we marvel at the Chinese travelers who contributed to imperial expansion with mixed results In our science fiction the beloved Star Trek character Captain James Kirk is an echo of the explorer Captain James Cook who boldly went farther than any other man has been before across the void-like Pacific Ocean Yet we often ignore the colonial cultural and biological abuses unleashed after the captains logs reached home Today we grant explorers sizable space in our popular histories especially in the histories of nations anxious to solidify control over their claimed lands Exploration has contributed to greater scientific knowledge and yet misinformation has gone hand in hand with many a voyage Greek and Roman scholars repeated tales of giant gold-mining ants in the east Columbus recorded accounts of one-eyed men and others with snouts of dogs who ate men Many expected to encounter Patagonian giants antipodes people with feet pointed backward and Amazons Arctic explorers in the 1800s believed that a warm zone encircled the North Pole Cartographers would fill in the blank spaces on maps with sea monsters As we survey the good and the bad that these wanderings have wrought we should acknowledge an error of omission namely that most of the talented and courageous women who have contributed to these events in all times and places have been lost to history It is true of course that explorers roles have often been restricted to men by the commands of nations navies and the societies of their times but we also need to read between the lines In a similar vein we should not give credence to a big man version of history that would depict only the solitary triumphant ship captain the general or the king the only person whose name was recorded in many histories None of these leaders could have succeeded without supporters at home and more vital still strangers on the road gracious hosts and indigenous guides The Muslim scholar Ibn Battutah could never have covered 75 000 miles more than 120 000 kilometers of Asia Africa and the Indian Ocean in the 1300s were it not for the unnamed fishers and traders before him In 1804 06 Lewis and Clark depended heavily on Native American guides and chiefs who sketched maps for them in the sand The monikers of explorers persist today because of those whose names were never written down or have been lost to history 1 WORLD EXPLORATION FROM ANCIENT TIMES The explorers who appear in this book sailed across vast open seas and crossed mountains deserts jungles rivers and even great sheets of polar ice They journeyed into the unknown connecting cultures and adding new places to the map The risks were often great Many explorers died while investigating new territory or while trying to return home again The motives for exploration were varied Many explorers sought wealth for themselves and their sponsors hoping to find new lands rich in gold silver and jewels Others searched for new and shorter trade routes which could lead to greater commercial profits for trading companies Some explorers hoped to gain fame and glory by becoming the first to set foot on a strange land Others traveled for religious reasons Pilgrims visited the great centers of Buddhism or Islam and missionaries traveled to spread Christianity Many explorers set out in search of adventure or for the sheer thrill of discovery Curiosity about the world was a major motive Explorers wanted to travel farther than anyone else had before in order to find out what was there They sought to reveal the geography of unknown places to chart uncharted territories and seas Scientists often accompanied exploring expeditions They journeyed to study the plants animals rocks climates and other aspects of new lands Many explorers found new territory for their people to settle From the ancient Phoenicians and Greeks setting up outposts in the Mediterranean to the European powers carving up Africa into territories in the 19th century exploration often went together with colonization and conquest Societies expanded into empires by establishing far-flung colonies They wanted to gain new living space farmland precious metals and other economic resources for their people as well as increased political power In some cases the colonists settled land that was unoccupied Often however they took control of land where other people already lived It is important to note that most of the new lands that the great explorers found were already populated To say then that Christopher Columbus discovered America or that Willem Jansz discovered Australia should not be taken to mean that they were the first people to set foot in these places A great number of people already lived there Instead these explorers discovered places wholly unknown to their own cultures important achievements nevertheless that literally broadened their cultures horizons Their explorations also led to profound and often devastating changes in the societies they discovered This book focuses on voyages of exploration and discovery made in the world s great land areas Sections cover the exploration of Eurasia Europe and Asia the Americas Australia and the Pacific Islands Africa and the polar regions For the major explorers additional biographical details including birth and death dates can be found at the back of the book in the section World Explorers at a Glance Some explorers were active in more than one continent and so are discussed in more than one section The index is the best place to start if one is looking for information on a specific explorer expedition or geographic feature E URASIA I n ancient times several major civilizations arose in Eurasia or Europe and Asia Western civilization traces its roots to the peoples of Mesopotamia in the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now Iraq Western knowledge of the world expanded from this valley to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea Exploration of the Mediterranean region went hand in hand with its colonization The ancient Greeks and a seafaring people known as the Phoenicians established settlements throughout the Mediterranean world Ancient Egypt in northern Africa bordering the Mediterranean also developed an advanced society Meanwhile important civilizations developed in the East in the lands that are today China and India and Pakistan The Chinese were active explorers of what are now China and Central Asia The Phoenicians were notable merchants colonizers and sailors Fearless and patient navigators they ventured into regions where no one else dared to go They are credited with the discovery and use of the North Star for navigation The Phoenicians sought to dominate trade and exclude all their rivals For this reason they carefully guarded the secrets of their trade routes and discoveries and their knowledge of winds and currents The homeland of the Phoenicians was located mainly in what is now Lebanon From there they established colonies along the coasts of Syria Israel Cyprus Sicily Sardinia southern Spain and northern Africa Their great colony of Carthage now in Tunisia produced two notable explorers in the 5th century BC Hanno sailed along the coast of western Africa see Africa Phoenicians and Greeks Himilco sailed to the north EARLY EUROPEAN EXPLORATION on a four-month journey The purpose of his voyage was apparently to consolidate control of the trade in tin Shores of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic along the Atlantic coast of Europe From Carthage he The first phase in European exploration centered on the sailed to the Phoenician colony of Gades now C diz Mediterranean region In the 1st millennium BC Phoenicia Spain After visiting the coasts of Spain and Portugal and the Greek city-states rapidly colonized the shores of he reached northwestern France Some historians believe the Mediterranean and Black seas This widespread that Himilco may also have visited Great Britain expansion must have been accompanied by exploration In ancient Greece as in Phoenicia knowledge of other of the adjacent inland areas by countless unknown lands came with overseas settlement Organized Greek soldiers and traders In the 5th century BC the ancient colonization began in the 8th century BC Commercial Greek writer Herodotus prefaced his History with a interests greed and sheer curiosity seem to be the forces geographic description of what was then the known that drove the Greek city-states to expand and explore world This introduction reveals that the coastlines of the At its height ancient Greece comprised settlements in Mediterranean and the Black seas had already been Asia Minor the Greek islands southern Italy Sicily and explored by then Much of Europe however remained North Africa uncharted Herodotus concludes by saying Whether the The Phoenicians long controlled the Strait of Gibraltar sea girds Europe round on the north none can tell at the western end of the Mediterranean Sea They EURASIA allowed no one else to pass through this channel to the Atlantic Ocean In about 300 BC however Carthage became embroiled in a struggle with a Greek city in Sicily As a result Phoenician power at the gate of the Mediterranean temporarily weakened This lapse allowed the Greek explorer Pytheas to sail right through Pytheas was a navigator geographer and astronomer from the Greek colony of Massalia now Marseille France He became the first Greek to visit and describe the British Isles and the Atlantic coast of Europe Sailing from the Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Pytheas stopped at southern Spain He then probably followed the European shoreline to the tip of northwestern France He eventually reached the southwestern tip of England in what is now Cornwall There he may have visited the tin mines which were famous in the ancient world Pytheas claimed to have explored a large part of Great Britain on foot He may have sailed around the island he accurately estimated its circumference at 4 000 miles 6 400 kilometers Pytheas visited some northern European countries and may have reached the mouth of the Vistula River on the Baltic Sea He also told of Thule the northernmost of the British Isles six days sail from Britain The place he visited may have been Iceland or Norway Pytheas made a number of scientific observations during his voyage of exploration He made calculations with a sundial at the summer solstice and noted the lengthening days as he traveled northward He also observed that the North Star is not at the true North Pole and that the Moon affects the tides Exploration of the North Atlantic was not carried farther until several centuries later This exploration was undertaken not by Mediterranean peoples but by A relief carving from the 1st century AD shows the kind of ship that the Phoenicians used on the Mediterranean Sea Viking longships were exceptionally sturdy in heavy seas They carried a single square sail and were also propelled by oars From 40 to 60 oarsmen sat on the rowers benches The Granger Collection New York Photos com Jupiterimages 3 4 EURASIA Vikings from Scandinavia From the 8th to the 11th century AD bands of Swedish Vikings traded southeastward across the Russian plains At the same time groups of Danish Vikings raided traded and settled along the coasts of the North Sea They arrived in the Mediterranean region where they were known as the Normans However neither the Swedes nor the Danes traveling in these regions were exploring lands that were unknown to civilized Europeans It was the Vikings of Norway who were the true explorers In about AD 890 the Viking Ohthere of Norway was desirous to try how far that country extended north He sailed around Norway s North Cape along the coast of Lapland to the White Sea By contrast most other Vikings sailing in high latitudes explored not eastward but westward Sweeping down the outer edge of Great Britain they settled in the Orkney Shetland and Hebrides islands and in Ireland They then voyaged on to Iceland where in 870 they settled among Irish colonists who had preceded them by some two centuries The Vikings may well have arrived piloted by Irish sailors Norwegian Vikings later explored farther west in the Atlantic reaching Greenland and Newfoundland in North America see The Americas Shores of the Indian Ocean and the China Sea From very early times people pursued trade across the land bridges and through the gulfs linking the parts of Asia Africa and Europe that lie between the Mediterranean and Arabian seas It is therefore not surprising that exploratory voyages early revealed the coastlines of the Indian Ocean The first Western observer to give an account of India was Scylax of Caria an ancient district of Anatolia in Turkey In about 510 BC Darius the Great the king of Persia Iran sent Scylax to explore the course of the Indus River Scylax traveled overland to the Kabul River in Afghanistan He reached the Indus River and followed it through India to its mouth at the Arabian Sea which is the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean He then sailed westward Passing by the Persian Gulf which was already well known to the Western world he explored the Red Sea Scylax finished his voyage in northern Egypt His journey had taken two and a half years to complete The expeditions in the 4th century BC of the famous conqueror Alexander the Great of Macedonia brought much new geographic knowledge to the Greek world as well as control of vast new territory They also carried the influence of Mediterranean culture to the East and of Eastern culture to the Mediterranean Most of Alexander s campaigns were journeys of military exploration His earlier expeditions were to regions already familiar to the Greeks Babylonia in Iraq and Persia The later ones however brought the Greeks a great deal of new information These campaigns took him through the enormous tract of land from the south of the Caspian Sea to the mountains of the Hindu Kush of Central Asia Alexander and his army crossed these mountains to the Indus River valley They then marched westward through the desolate country along the southern edge of the Iranian plateau They ultimately reached Susa now Shush Iran the capital of Darius the Great and overthrew the Persian Empire The admiral in command of the expedition s naval forces was Nearchus He waited for the favorable monsoon winds and then sailed from the mouth of the Indus to the mouth of the Euphrates He explored the northern coast of the Persian Gulf on his way The Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire succeeded the Greek city-states as the great power of the Western world The empire eventually included most of western Europe northern Africa and the Middle East As Roman power grew increasing wealth brought increasing demands for luxuries from the East This led to great commercial activity in the eastern seas As the coasts became well known Roman sailors skillfully used the seasonal character of the monsoon winds to navigate During the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian in the 1st century BC Western traders reached what are now Thailand Cambodia and Indonesia A few also seem to have reached the coast of China In the late 2nd century AD according to Chinese records an embassy came from the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius to the Chinese emperor Huandi CHINESE EXPLORATION The Chinese developed an advanced civilization in early times and were energetic explorers From their ancient homeland in the basin of the Huang He Yellow River they spread out widely ultimately creating a vast empire Early explorations centered on the courses of the rivers that provided the growing state with water for agriculture as well as transportation routes The state built many canals and dikes The search for land routes through the mountains and deserts to the northwest and west also became important Expansion was a major spur to exploration Chinese farmers ventured out to settle new lands State-sponsored missions also sent out parties to conquer and colonize territory to survey and administer the conquered lands and to maintain state security Zhang Qian and the Silk Road During the Han Dynasty 206 BC AD 220 the expanding Chinese Empire was threatened by raiders from the north People who led a nomadic or wandering life in the northern steppe land would invade settled agricultural communities to the south to solve periodic food shortages The Great Wall of China had been built to defend Chinese territory against northern nomads especially the Xiongnu The Xiongnu may have been the same people known as the Huns in Europe Starting in the reign of the Han emperor Wudi the Chinese carried out long and costly military campaigns along the northern and northwestern borders Wudi also dispatched an envoy Zhang Qian to try to forge a military alliance with another nomadic people against the Xiongnu Zhang became a pioneering explorer He was the first person to bring back a reliable account of the lands of Central Asia to the court of EURASIA China He set off in 138 BC to try to establish relations Silk Road with a nomadic people called the Yuezhi He traveled through what is now the Chinese province of Gansu but In ancient and medieval times the Silk Road was a major he was captured by the Xiongnu They kept him thoroughfare for trade and travel between Asia the Middle East prisoner for 10 years in the Altai Mountains before he and Europe The route carried goods and ideas between the finally managed to escape He then proceeded on his great civilizations of Rome and China Caravans carried highly mission reaching the Yuezhi in what is now prized Chinese silk westward and wools gold and silver Afghanistan On his return voyage via Tibet he was eastward Though mainly a trade route the Silk Road was also again captured by the Xiongnu but he escaped about a used by conquering armies Buddhist missionaries and Muslim clerics Inventions works of literature and languages year later He returned to China after an absence of likewise followed its path some 13 years Seven years later Zhang was sent on When the European explorer Marco Polo traveled from another mission this time to the Wusun a people living Venice Italy to China via the Silk Road in the 1270s the road in the Ili River valley in what is now northwestern was already about 1 500 years old It came into partial China existence in about 300 BC At that time the road was used to Although Zhang was not able to establish an alliance bring jade from Khotan now Hotan China to China By 200 BC with the Yuezhi or the Wusun he made important the Silk Road was linked to the West and by 100 BC it was diplomatic contacts and collected much useful carrying active trade between the East and the West At its height in AD 200 this route and its western connections over the information In addition to traveling himself he sent his Roman system constituted the longest road system on Earth assistant to visit parts of what are now Uzbekistan and Few persons traveled the entire route Instead goods were Afghanistan Zhang gathered information on Parthia handled in a staggered progression by middlemen now in Iran India and other states in the area His The Silk Road stretched for some 4 000 miles 6 400 missions opened the way for exchanges of envoys kilometers It crossed a wide range of climates and cultures between these Central Asian states and China His from the lush temperate region of eastern China to the deserts voyages also brought the Chinese into contact with the and mountains of Muslim Central Asia It originated at Xi an outposts of Greek culture established by Alexander the China but was linked to the Pacific Ocean on the east From Great As a result of Zhang s missions new items were Xi an the route followed the Great Wall of China to the northwest It then skirted the Takla Makan Desert climbed the introduced in China including a superior breed of Pamirs mountains crossed Afghanistan and continued to the horses and new plants such as grapes and alfalfa eastern Mediterranean Sea From there merchandise was Commerce as well as conquest inspired Chinese travel shipped across the sea to Europe A southern branch of the Silk Zhang Qian had encountered a series of trade routes that Road led from Persia Iran to the Bay of Bengal in India skirted the great Takla Makan Desert of Central Asia Today part of the route exists in the form of a paved highway Trade began to flourish along these caravan routes The connecting Pakistan and northwestern China The Silk Road has routes are now known collectively as the Silk Road also been the impetus behind the building of the Asian Highway because Chinese silk was a major and valuable product network In 1999 the road inspired cellist Yo Yo Ma to found the traded along them The Silk Road ultimately extended Silk Road Project which has explored cultural traditions along from China through Central Asia to the Middle East its route From there goods were shipped to Europe Another branch of the Silk Road led to India In addition to being a commercial thoroughfare the Silk Road became a major route for travel and cultural exchange between the East and the West In the 1st century AD Chinese envoys were frustrated in an attempt to visit the western part of the world However as already mentioned a mission from Rome reached China by ship in the 2nd century The first record of official visitors arriving at the Han court from Japan is for the year AD 57 Buddhist Pilgrimages to India Chinese knowledge of India was expanded by the voyages of Chinese Buddhist monks to study there in the Holy Land of Buddhism The first known Chinese monk to undertake such a pilgrimage was Faxian He set out in AD 399 in order to 5 6 EURASIA bring back Buddhist texts from India that were unavailable in China His trip took him across the trackless desert wastes of Central Asia to Khotan now Hotan China an oasis center for caravans on the Silk Road He then crossed the mountain area known as the Pamirs along a treacherously narrow and steep path In 402 he arrived in India There he visited the most important seats of Buddhist learning and the holiest Buddhist places He stayed for a long time at what is now the city of Patna transcribing Buddhist texts In the desert were numerous evil spirits and scorching winds causing death to anyone who would meet them Above there were no birds while on the ground there were no animals One looked as far as one could in all directions for a path to cross but there was none to choose Only the dried bones of the dead served as indications Faxian a Chinese Buddhist monk describing his trek through Central Asia in the 5th century AD On the way home Faxian sailed to Ceylon now Sri Lanka where he collected additional Buddhist writings After setting sail for China a violent storm drove his ship onto an island that was probably Java now in Indonesia He took another boat but it too was driven astray before finally being blown to a Chinese port In all Faxian spent more than 200 days at sea After returning to his homeland Faxian translated into Chinese the Buddhist texts he had taken so much trouble to bring back He also wrote a detailed account of his pioneering journeys The Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang returns from his pilgrimage to India in AD 645 Lebrecht Music and Arts Photo Library Alamy After Faxian many other Chinese monks went on pilgrimages to India Among them was Xuanzang in the 7th century He was unable to obtain a travel permit so he left Chang an China by stealth in 629 He traveled north of the Takla Makan Desert and across the mountains known as the Hindu Kush to northwestern India From there he sailed down the Ganges River arriving at its eastern reaches in 633 After visiting many holy places and studying at a Buddhist monastery for several years he returned home in 645 He had been gone 16 years Like Faxian he brought back numerous religious texts Xuanzang s record of his travels with its wealth of precise data has been of great value to modern historians and archaeologists Zheng He Sails the Indian Ocean The greatest Chinese naval explorer was probably the admiral and diplomat Zheng He His seven major expeditions in the early 15th century helped to extend Chinese maritime and commercial influence throughout the regions bordering the Indian Ocean Zheng was the son of Chinese Muslims As a youth he was among the boys whom the Chinese government captured castrated and sent into the army He distinguished himself as a junior officer skilled in war and diplomacy He also made influential friends at the Chinese court Eunuchs castrated men had long functioned as political advisers to the emperors During the Ming Dynasty 1368 1644 the Chinese court sought to display its naval power to bring the maritime states of South and Southeast Asia in line For 300 years the Chinese had been extending their power out to sea An extensive seaborne commerce had developed to meet China s desire for spices and raw materials for industry Chinese travelers abroad as well as Indian and Muslim visitors to China widened the geographic horizon of the Chinese Technological developments in shipbuilding and in the arts of seafaring reached new heights by the beginning of the Ming Dynasty The emperor selected Zheng to be the commander in chief of new missions to the Indian Ocean Zheng first set sail in 1405 commanding 62 ships and 27 800 men The fleet visited what are now southern Vietnam Thailand Malaysia and Java Indonesia It then sailed to southwestern India and Ceylon Sri Lanka Zheng returned to China in 1407 On his second voyage in 1409 he encountered treachery from the king of Ceylon Zheng defeated the king s forces and took him back to China as a captive In 1411 Zheng set out on his third voyage This time traveling beyond the seaports of India he sailed to Hormuz on the Persian Gulf On his return he touched at the northern tip of Sumatra now in Indonesia Zheng left on his fourth voyage in 1413 After stopping at the principal ports of Asia he proceeded westward from India to Hormuz Part of the fleet cruised southward down the Arabian coast and dispatched a Chinese mission to visit Mecca now in Saudi Arabia and Egypt The fleet visited coastal towns EURASIA in what are now Somalia and Kenya and almost reached the Mozambique Channel On his return to China in 1415 Zheng brought the envoys of more than 30 states of South and Southeast Asia to pay homage to the Chinese emperor On Zheng s fifth voyage 1417 19 the fleet revisited the Persian Gulf and the east coast of Africa A sixth voyage was launched in 1421 to take the foreign emissaries back home from China Zheng again visited Southeast Asia India Arabia and Africa In 1424 the emperor died His successor shifted policy and suspended naval expeditions abroad One final expedition which was Zheng s seventh voyage was sent out The fleet left China in the winter of 1431 visiting the states of Southeast Asia the coast of India the Persian Gulf the Red Sea and the east coast of Africa Zheng died in India in the spring of 1433 and the fleet returned to China that summer MEDIEVAL EUROPEAN TRAVELERS The period of intense European exploration and colonization of the Americas known as the Age of Discovery took place in the 15th and 16th centuries The foundation for this period was laid in the Middle Ages as Europeans traveled to the Middle East and China Contacts with the East introduced new ideas and goods to Europe and inspired further exploration The Crusades During the military expeditions known as the Crusades Europeans traveled to the Middle East to wage war not to explore new territory Nevertheless the Crusades brought Europeans in greater contact with the Muslim world From the late 11th century to the 16th century European Christians mounted a series of military campaigns to attempt to recapture the Holy Land Palestine from the Muslims The Crusades ultimately failed to regain the Holy Land but played an important role in the expansion of Europe The Crusades opened up trade contact with the East and new foods and textiles began to appear in Europe The new products included cane sugar buckwheat rice apricots watermelons oranges limes lemons cotton damask satin velvet and dyestuffs The Crusades also introduced western Europe to the great cities and cultures of the Islamic world Contact with the Christian Byzantine Empire in southern Europe and western Asia provided access to ancient Greek learning European Travelers to China European knowledge of China increased greatly in the late Middle Ages when Christian European missionaries and merchants journeyed by land to Central and East Asia Goods had passed between East and West along the Silk Road since ancient times However traders did not travel the entire road Goods usually changed hands at many different marts along the way In the 13th century the political geography changed Under their leader Genghis Khan the Mongols took control of northern China They then turned their conquering armies westward building up an enormous empire By the late 13th century the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan reigned supreme from the Black Sea to the Yellow Sea Astute Europeans saw the opportunities that friendship with the Mongol state might bring If Europeans could convert the Mongols to Christianity 7 8 EURASIA The Legend of Prester John Starting in the Middle Ages European rulers sent out many expeditions to find Prester John a Christian priest and king Explorers searched for his kingdom first in Asia then later in northern Africa Prester John never existed however he was merely a legend John was purportedly a Nestorian Christian a member of an independent Eastern Christian church The title Prester is short for presbyter which means elder or priest The myth of Prester John arose in the 12th century during the Crusades when European Christians were fighting to regain the Holy Land from the Muslims Prester John was said to be a wealthy and powerful ruler who was fighting against the Muslims His kingdom was supposedly located somewhere in the Far East beyond Persia and Armenia European rulers hoped to form an alliance with him against the Muslims His legend thus arose partly from wishful thinking In 1165 several Christian rulers in Europe received a letter that claimed to be from Prester John It is not known who actually wrote the letter which was a fiction In the letter the realm of Prester John is described as a land of natural riches marvels peace and justice Prester John declared in the letter that he intended to come to Palestine with his armies to battle the Muslims and to regain the Holy Sepulchre the burial place of Jesus Pope Alexander III sent a letter to Prester John in 1177 In the 13th and 14th centuries various missionaries and travelers searched for Prester John s kingdom in Asia Among them were Giovanni da Pian del Carpini Giovanni da Montecorvino and Marco Polo As European knowledge of Asia increased the search moved elsewhere After the mid-14th century Ethiopia was the center of the quest as Prester John became identified with the emperor of that African Christian state The Portuguese who began actively exploring Africa hoped to find the king In 1482 the Portuguese navigator Diogo C o encountered the mouth of the Congo River which he believed to be a strait providing access to the realm of Prester John In 1486 rumor arose of a great ruler far to the east who was thought to be Prester John The Portuguese king sent the explorers P ro da Covilh and Afonso Paiva overland to search for the mythical ruler and to locate India and Ethiopia They of course never found him the balance of power would be tipped against the Muslims and in favor of the Christians Forming an alliance with the Mongols would also be beneficial to trade Christian merchants would be provided with political protection along the trade routes to the legendary sources of wealth in China With these opportunities in mind Pope Innocent IV sent friars to diligently search out all things concerning the Mongol Empire and to try to convert the Mongols Giovanni and Willem Among the Franciscan friars who went forth to follow these instructions were Giovanni da Pian del Carpini of Italy and Willem van Ruysbroeck of France They traveled the great caravan routes from southern Russia north of the Caspian and Aral seas and north of the Tien Shan Tien Mountains Both Giovanni and Willem eventually reached the court of the Mongol emperor at Karakorum Giovanni set out from France in 1245 when he was more than 60 years old A year later he and his companions had reached the camp of Batu the Mongol conqueror of eastern Europe on the Volga River With Batu s permission the friars proceeded to Karakorum They arrived just over 106 days later after a journey on horseback of about 3 000 miles 4 800 kilometers Giovanni and his companions were present to witness the coronation of a new Mongol emperor More than 3 000 envoys and deputies from all parts of the empire had gathered there for the event The friars remained at the new emperor s court for a few months They were then sent back home to deliver a letter from the emperor to the pope The friars suffered greatly on their long winter journey homeward By the time they reached Europe in the summer of 1247 they had been taken for dead Immediately upon his return Giovanni recorded his observations of the Mongols and the regions he had traversed His work discredited many of the fables concerning the Mongols Its account of Mongol customs and history is one of the best treatments of the subject by any medieval Christian writer Only on geographic and personal detail is it inferior to the one written a few years later by Willem Willem and his companions set out by sea in 1253 from what is now Turkey They crossed the Black Sea to the Crimean Peninsula in what is now Ukraine On land they acquired oxen and carts for their five-week trek across the steppes to Batu s camp From there they set off on horseback reaching Karakoram in January 1254 They were received courteously by the emperor and remained at his court until the summer Upon his return Willem wrote about his Mongolian experiences for the French king His narrative is free from legend and shows him to have been an intelligent and honest observer The Polo family The greatest of the 13th-century European travelers in Asia were the Polos wealthy merchants of Venice In 1260 the brothers Niccol and Maffeo Polo set out on a trading expedition to the Crimean Peninsula After two years they were ready to return to Venice Finding the way home blocked by war however they traveled eastward to Bukhara now in Uzbekistan where they spent another three years The Polos then accepted an invitation to accompany a party of Mongol envoys returning to the court of Kublai Khan at Dadu now Beijing The emperor received them well They eventually returned to Europe as his ambassadors carrying letters asking the pope to send him 100 Christian scholars The Polos finally arrived back home three years later In 1271 the Polos set off for China again accompanied by Niccol s son Marco Polo then a youth of 17 This time the Polos took a different route From Venice they sailed to Acre now Akko Israel where they received letters for Kublai from a representative of the pope The Polos crossed the deserts of Iran and Afghanistan Northeastern Afghanistan in particular pleased the travelers They seem to have remained there for a year Setting off again the Polos mounted the heights of the Pamirs They descended from the mountains to the trading city of Kashgar Kashi which is now in Xinjiang China By then they were traveling on the EURASIA Marco Polo sets sail from Venice in 1271 in a painting from an illuminated manuscript from about the 15th century Photos com Jupiterimages main part of the Silk Road They continued eastward crossing the Takla Makan Desert to what is now the Chinese province of Gansu Prior to this the Polos had traveled primarily among Muslim peoples In Gansu an entirely different civilization mainly Buddhist in religion but partly Chinese in culture prevailed All these pieces of paper are issued with as much solemnity and authority as if they were of pure gold or silver With them the emperor causes all payments on his own account to be made and he makes them to pass current universally over all his kingdoms and provinces and territories And nobody however important he may think himself dares to refuse them on pain of death And all the while they are so light Marco Polo a 13th-century Italian traveler describing the use in China of paper money which was then unknown in Europe Sometime in 1274 or 1275 the Polos arrived at Kublai s court at his summer capital Shangdu now Duolun in northern China They remained in Kublai s empire for some 16 or 17 years They may have moved with the court to the emperor s winter residence at Dadu The elder Polos were probably employed by the empire in some technical capacity Marco quickly became a favorite of Kublai s Although Marco knew little or no Chinese he did speak some of the many languages then used in East Asia Kublai took great delight in hearing of strange countries He repeatedly sent Marco on fact-finding missions to far places in the empire including Hangzhou in the southeast Yunnan in the southwest and perhaps also what is now Myanmar Burma From these lands Marco brought back stories of the people and their lives He may also have had other official responsibilities such as inspecting taxes In any event Marco seems to have considered himself an adoptive son of his new country The Polos became wealthy in China They began to fear however that jealous men in the court would destroy them when the elderly emperor died In about 1290 or 1292 Kublai was preparing to send a Mongol princess to Iran to become a consort of the ruler there The Polos asked to accompany her on the voyage and from Iran to return to Venice Kublai at first refused but then reluctantly agreed Since there was danger from robbers and enemies of the emperor along the overland trade routes they went by sea They sailed in a fleet of 14 ships which carried the Polos the princess and 600 courtiers and sailors The fleet traveled southward along the coast of what is now Vietnam and the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra now in Indonesia where the voyage was delayed for several months The ships then turned westward and visited Ceylon Sri Lanka and India before reaching their destination in Iran The Polos set off by land for Venice They were robbed along the way of most of their earnings from China When they arrived in Venice in 1295 they had been gone 24 years 9 10 EURASIA 1328 Another Franciscan missionary the Italian friar Odoric of Pordenone journeyed throughout the greater part of Asia between 1316 and 1330 He reached Beijing by way of India and Malaysia He then traveled by sea to Guangzhou China Odoric returned to Europe by way of Central Asia His account of his journeys had considerable influence in his day It was from Odoric s work that the English writer Sir John Mandeville plagiarized most of his travel stories MUSLIM TRAVELERS Starting in what were the Middle Ages in Europe the study of geography was nurtured in the Arab world along with other scholarly pursuits Arab scholars Soon after his return Marco sailed aboard a ship in produced a number of geographic works including the Mediterranean It was captured by forces of the encyclopedias descriptive geographies and histories trading city of Genoa a rival of Venice during a and maps of the world The Arabs were great seafarers skirmish Marco was thrown into a Genoese prison They dominated trade in the Indian Ocean from the 3rd There he recorded observations from his travel to Asia to the 15th century Interest in geography was also with the help of another prisoner Rustichello who was kindled in part by the great political and military a writer of romances The result was Marco s famous and fascinating book which became known as Il milione expansion of the Arabs in the 7th and 8th centuries Islam was established by Muhammad in Arabia the The Million Its name most likely came from his homeland of the Arabs in the early 7th century The new nickname Il Milione from his tendency to describe religion spread rapidly Within a century the Arabs had the millions of things he saw in the Mongol Empire In conquered most of the Middle East North Africa and English the book is known as the Travels of Marco Polo Spain Polo s book contains vivid descriptions of China and Travel was an important part of Islamic culture other parts of Asia Rather than being a collection of Muslims were and still are required to undertake a personal recollections it was intended to provide an pilgrimage to Mecca now in Saudi Arabia once in their overview of the region The narrative often branches off life It was also common for Muslims to visit great into descriptions of places that Marco probably never scholars and centers of learning throughout the Islamic visited Instead he gathered information about these places from his relatives or other people he knew Typical world Many travelers wrote accounts of their journeys and the travel narrative became a well-established genre digressions are those on Mesopotamia Samarkand in Arabic literature Siberia India Japan Ethiopia and Madagascar One of the earliest notable Islamic travelers was the His most detailed descriptions and the highest praise 9th-century geographer known as al-Ya qubi For many were reserved for the Mongol capital of Dadu whose years he lived in Armenia and Khorasan now part of splendors were beyond compare To this city he said everything that is most rare and valuable in all parts of Iran under the patronage of the Iranian dynasty of the Tahirids After the fall of the Tahirids he traveled to the world finds its way for not fewer than 1 000 India and the Maghrib North Africa and died in Egypt carriages and pack-horses loaded with raw silk make Al-Ya qubi wrote a world history and a geography based their daily entry and gold tissues and silks of various on his travels In the geography he describes the larger kinds are manufactured to an immense extent cities of Iraq Iran Arabia Syria Egypt the Maghrib It is no wonder that when Europe learned of these things it became enthralled Marco s book was an instant India China and the Byzantine Empire Much of this success and was translated into many languages Fellow work is now lost The fame of the 10th-century geographer al-Hamdani Europeans read his accounts of the riches of Asia and became eager to find sea routes to China Japan and the rests mainly on his authoritative writings on South Arabian history and geography He was born in Yemen East Indies and spent most of his life in the Arabian Peninsula He A few travelers followed the Polos Giovanni da traveled extensively acquiring a broad knowledge of his Montecorvino a Franciscan friar from Italy became country He was also a poet historian and astronomer archbishop of Beijing He lived in China from 1294 to EURASIA His encyclopedia Al-Iklil The Crown and his other writings are a major source of information on medieval Arabia The geographer al-Maqdisi also traveled widely in the 10th century He wrote a notable work based on his personal observations of the populations manners and economic life of the various peoples of the Islamic world Al-Mas udi was the first Arab to combine history and scientific geography in a large-scale work This work a world history was called Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma adin aljawahir The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems It appeared in the mid-10th century As a child al-Mas udi showed an extraordinary love of learning an excellent memory and a boundless curiosity His main interests were history and geography but he also studied such subjects as comparative religion and science Al-Mas udi was not content to learn merely from books and teachers but traveled widely to gain firsthand knowledge of the countries about which he wrote His travels extended to Syria Iran Armenia the shores of the Caspian Sea the Indus Valley Ceylon now Sri Lanka Oman and the east coast of Africa as far south as Zanzibar at least and possibly Madagascar Al-Mas udi is believed to have written more than 20 books including several about Islamic beliefs and even one about poisons Unfortunately most of his writings have been lost His book of world history became famous It includes chapters describing the history geography social life and religious customs of nonIslamic lands such as India Greece and Rome The book also provides accounts of climates the oceans the hazards of navigation and the calendars of various nations Among the particularly interesting sections are those on pearl diving in the Persian Gulf amber found in East Africa Hindu burial customs and the land route to China Al-Mas udi s approach to his task was original He gave as much weight to social economic religious and cultural matters as to politics He also displayed interest in all religions Moreover he used information obtained from sources not previously regarded as reliable These sources included merchants local writers including non-Muslims and others he met on his travels Another great work of medieval geography was written by ash-Sharif al-Idrisi in the 12th century He spent much of his early life traveling in North Africa and Spain where his ancestors had lived Apparently his travels also took him to many other parts of western Europe besides Spain including Portugal the French Atlantic coast and southern England He visited Asia Minor when he was barely 16 years old In about 1145 al-Idrisi entered the service of Roger II the king of Sicily who was Christian For the king alIdrisi completed maps of the world and his great geographic book This book is called Kitab nuzhat almushtaq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq The Pleasure Excursion of One Who Is Eager to Traverse the Regions of the World It is also known in English as The Book of Roger In compiling it he combined material from Arabic and Greek geographic works with information obtained World History Archive Alamy The geographer ash-Sharif al-Idrisi completed a map of the world in the 12th century A later copy of the map is shown South is at top and north is at bottom Africa thus appears above Eurasia The extent of Africa was not known The Americas and Australia which were then unknown in Eurasia are not shown through firsthand observation and eyewitness reports The king and al-Idrisi sent a number of persons including men skilled in drawing to various countries to observe and record what they saw Al-Idrisi completed the book in January 1154 The greatest medieval Arab traveler was Ibn Battutah He visited nearly all the Muslim countries and journeyed as far as China and Sumatra now in Indonesia He was the author of one of the most famous of all travel books the Rihlah Travels Ibn Battutah was born in Morocco He began his travels in 1325 at the age of 21 by undertaking the pilgrimage to Mecca On this voyage he also sought to study under famous scholars in Egypt and Syria It was during his trip to Egypt that he became enthusiastic about traveling vowing to visit as many parts of the world as possible He established as a rule for himself never to travel any road a second time Other travelers of the time journeyed for practical reasons such as for trade pilgrimage and education Ibn Battutah however traveled for its own sake for the reward of learning about new countries and new peoples As he became increasingly famous as a traveler and scholar he also made a living from his travels Numerous rulers and other powerful people were generous toward him enabling him to secure an income and to continue his wanderings From Egypt Ibn Battutah traveled to Syria and completed his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1326 He then crossed the Arabian Desert to Iraq southern Iran and Azerbaijan From 1327 to 1330 he studied in Mecca and Medina now in Saudi Arabia but such a long stay did not suit his temperament He set off again sailing down both shores of the Red Sea to Yemen He later visited 11 12 EURASIA trading city-states along the eastern African coast His return journey took him to southern Arabia southern Iran and across the Persian Gulf back to Mecca in 1332 There he developed a new ambitious plan He heard that the sultan of Delhi the Islamic ruler of northern India was very generous to Muslim scholars Ibn Battutah decided to try his luck at the sultan s court He traveled to Syria where he boarded a ship for Asia Minor He crisscrossed this land of the Turks in many directions and met many local rulers His journey continued across the Black Sea to the Crimea then to the northern Caucasus He reached Saray on the lower Volga which was the capital of the ruler of the western part of the Mongol Empire This ruler s wife was a Byzantine princess Ibn Battutah accompanied the princess and her attendants on a visit to Constantinople the capital of the Byzantine Empire which was Christian Today this city is named Istanbul and is part of Turkey Although Ibn Battutah shared the strong opinions of his fellow Muslims toward non-Muslims his vivid accounts of the capital show him as a rather tolerant man with a lively curiosity Nevertheless he always felt happier in Muslim rather than non-Muslim lands After his return from Constantinople through the Russian steppes he traveled with a caravan to Central Asia He then took rather complicated routes through Khorasan and Afghanistan After crossing the Hindu Kush mountains he arrived at the frontiers of India India and its sultan lived up to Ibn Battutah s expectations of wealth and generosity He was received with honors and gifts and was appointed a judge in Delhi a post that he held for several years In 1342 the sultan made Ibn Battutah his envoy to the Chinese emperor After Ibn Battutah left Delhi his party was soon waylaid by Hindu insurgents He barely escaped with his life On the southwest coast of India he became involved in local wars and was finally shipwrecked there He lost all his property and the presents he was carrying for the Chinese emperor Fearing the wrath of the sultan Ibn Battutah chose to go to the Maldive Islands south of India where he spent nearly two years He then visited Ceylon After a new shipwreck on the southeast coast of India he took part in a war led by his brother-in-law He later visited northeastern India Deciding to resume his mission to China he sailed for Sumatra There he was given a new ship by the island s Muslim ruler and started for China Ibn Battutah landed at the great Chinese port Zaytun now Quanzhou in the southeast He then traveled on inland waterways as far as Beijing and back This part of his narrative is rather brief and problems with it lead modern historians to wonder whether it is really true He returned via Sumatra and the Persian Gulf to Baghdad Syria and Egypt In Syria he witnessed the ravages of the plague of 1348 He also performed his final pilgrimage to Mecca At last he returned home to Morocco But there still remained two Muslim countries not yet known to him Shortly after his return he went to the kingdom of Granada the last remnant of Moorish Spain In 1352 he set out on a journey to the western Sudan This last journey across the desert known as the Sahara to western Africa was taken unwillingly at the command of the sultan of Morocco Crossing the Sahara Ibn Battutah spent a year in the empire of Mali Toward the end of 1353 he returned back home to Morocco There he dictated an account of his travels to a scholar EURASIA who wrote them down Over the course of his more than 20 years of traveling he had journeyed some 75 000 miles more than 120 000 kilometers He had met at least 60 rulers and many more dignitaries His book is valued for its insights on many aspects of the social cultural and political history of a great part of the Muslim world THE SEA ROUTE TO INDIA Before the 16th century little was known in Europe about the interior and east coast of India Europeans had been in contact with India since ancient times Trade between Europe and India came to a halt however with the fall of the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD Trade with the East then passed into Arab hands The only physical contact with Europe came from occasional travelers such as Marco Polo and in the 15th century the Italian Niccol dei Conti and the Russian Afanasy Nikitin In the 15th century Europeans eagerly searched for a sea route from western Europe to India and China They wanted to profit from the trade in valuable spices from the East At the end of the century the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama successfully sailed from Europe to India He thereby restored a link between Europe and the East that had existed many centuries previously A series of European expeditions to southern Asia followed ultimately leading to its colonization The direct routes for trade between Europe and India involved traveling via the Red Sea and Egypt or across Iran Iraq Syria and Anatolia now in Turkey In the 15th century these routes became increasingly blocked to Europeans mainly because of the activities of the Turkish Ottoman Empire In addition the Venetians and later the Ottomans held a near-monopoly on trade in the eastern Mediterranean For these reasons western Europeans began searching for another route The Suez Canal which now links the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea was not built until the late 19th century The search for a sea route to the East initiated the Age of Discovery Christopher Columbus sought to reach China by traveling west and thereby accidentally reached the Americas see The Americas The Age of Discovery Other explorers tried the long and hazardous eastern route via the Atlantic and Indian Oceans First a ship had to sail south along the west coast of Africa It then had to round the continent s southern tip and head north in the Indian Ocean along Africa s east coast It was not known if this was possible however some Europeans thought that the Indian Ocean might be entirely surrounded by land Europeans also did not know how far south the African continent extended In addition sailing around the southern tip of the continent near the land now known as the Cape of Good Hope proved to be difficult The seas are rough the weather is stormy and the winds are strong Portugal took the lead in the search for the eastern sea route Throughout the 15th century the Portuguese sent forth expedition after expedition to explore the west coast of Africa The king also sent the Portuguese explorer P ro da Covilh on a mission to India via a land and sea route in 1487 P ro traveled through Egypt and Ethiopia to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean He arrived in India visiting the towns of Cannanore now Kannur Calicut now Kozhikode and Goa on the west coast He then journeyed in Africa see Africa The Portuguese Also in 1487 the king sent the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias on a mission to search for the eastern sea route Dias and his crew became the first Europeans to see the stormy Cape of Good Hope With two light quick sailing ships called caravels plus a supply ship Dias left Lisbon Portugal in August He sailed down the entire west coast of Africa farther than any other European before him Early in January 1488 a gale hit his ships and blew them southward past the southernmost tip of land After 13 13

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