World exploration by Europe

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mike3

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Feb 1, 2007, 11:52:12 AM2/1/07
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Hi.

Why is it that the vast majority of world exploration by Europe
happened in relatively modern times (1500s to 1600s), and not further
back in the past? Not enough technology? Not enough motivation? It
seems there was 1400 years since Ptolemy published his map,
summarizing the European geographical knowledge of the time, which
covered only around 1/4 of the planet, to the time when new
exploration was begun, and the remaining 3/4 of the globe was figured
out, and it _seems_ that geographical knowledge was pretty much
stagnant throughout that time. For example, why did it have to wait
until Marco Polo in order for the existence of Japan to have come to
be known by Europeans? Japan is not all that far off China, and in
ancient times the Silk Route enabled trade with the Far East, so even
if they hadn't seen it directly they nevertheless could have heard
about it. Why didn't they? Why doesn't "Japan" turn up in Western
texts before Marco Polo's trip? And what of the Pacific Ocean? Why did
Balboa have to go to America to "discover" it when it could have been
discovered long before by simply traveling to the Orient and seeing
the big ocean off the coast?

Rich Rostrom

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Feb 19, 2007, 3:26:09 PM2/19/07
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"mike3" <mike...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>Why is it that the vast majority of world exploration by Europe
>happened in relatively modern times (1500s to 1600s), and not further
>back in the past? Not enough technology?

Right. In the 1400s, Portuguese and Spanish
mariners developed the improved sailing ship
that could make deep-ocean voyages reliably.
--
| He had a shorter, more scraggly, and even less |
| flattering beard than Yassir Arafat, and Escalante |
| never conceived that such a thing was possible. |
| -- William Goldman, _Heat_ |

Bill Johnston

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Feb 25, 2007, 1:19:36 AM2/25/07
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On Feb 19, 2:26 pm, Rich Rostrom <rrostrom.21stcent...@rcn.com> wrote:

I seem to recall that during the 1200s an Italian merchant attempted
to sail west in an attempt to reach Asia, like Columbus later tried to
do. He was never seen again.

As for why nobody went to Asia before Marco Polo- the Pax Mongolica
really facilitated travel across central Asia, and the Mongols were
very receptive to foreigners.

Stephen Graham

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Feb 25, 2007, 4:05:13 PM2/25/07
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Bill Johnston wrote:

> As for why nobody went to Asia before Marco Polo- the Pax Mongolica
> really facilitated travel across central Asia, and the Mongols were
> very receptive to foreigners.

Lots of people went to Asia before Marco Polo. Many of them were Arabs
or from Arab-controlled lands. And, of course, there were several Roman
trade and diplomatic missions to China.

It's more that people aren't aware of trips prior to Marco Polo.

mike3

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Apr 9, 2007, 12:04:32 PM4/9/07
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On Feb 19, 2:26 pm, Rich Rostrom <rrostrom.21stcent...@rcn.com> wrote:

What about exploration of the Old World continents, though?
What, for example, made it so frigging hard to get to the edge
of Asia and glimpse the Pacific Ocean for the first time? If
they got as far as China, why couldn't they manage to make it
(for over a millennium in fact!) just that wee bit of distance
(compared to all the distance to there from Europe) to the
East Coast and thus the Pacific Ocean? Why even aren't
there any references to a big ocean off of Asia before, say,
Marco Polo, although trans-Eurasian trade and travel was
occuring well before then and even if the Europeans may not
have seen it, they could have heard of it?

mike3

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Apr 9, 2007, 12:04:52 PM4/9/07
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Never mind "Asia" actually starts in Turkey...

Rich Rostrom

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Apr 9, 2007, 7:07:18 PM4/9/07
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"mike3" <mike...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>What about exploration of the Old World continents, though?
>What, for example, made it so frigging hard to get to the edge
>of Asia and glimpse the Pacific Ocean for the first time?

It's a long, long, _long_ walk. Through a lot of
rough terrain and bad neighborhoods.

Ocean travel is enormously easier.

There was some commerce between the
Moslem Near East and southeast Asia.

It is probable that the first person
to see the western Pacific and eastern
Atlantic was a Moslem traveler.

>Why even aren't
>there any references to a big ocean off of Asia before, say,

>Marco Polo...

The general assumption of the Greeks,
Romans, and medieval Europeans was that
there was an eastern ocean. The standard
world map showed a world-island surrounded
by water.

http://terra.antiqua.free.fr/cartes/mappemondes%20MA/Beatus%201106%20British%20Lib._jpg_view.htm

is an example.

Stephen Graham

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Apr 10, 2007, 12:32:28 PM4/10/07
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Rich Rostrom wrote:

> It is probable that the first person
> to see the western Pacific and eastern
> Atlantic was a Moslem traveler.

Much more likely some Carthaginian trader. As I pointed out earlier,
there were Roman trade missions following established routes to China.
They weren't the first who might have seen the Atlantic, the Indian and
the Pacific Oceans.

We should also recall that Greek scholars came up with a reasonable
value for the circumference of the world, which implied a vast ocean to
the east of Asia, if there weren't other, unknown continents someplace
out there.

Allan Adler

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Apr 11, 2007, 12:56:46 AM4/11/07
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Stephen Graham <gra...@u.washington.edu> writes:

> We should also recall that Greek scholars came up with a reasonable
> value for the circumference of the world, which implied a vast ocean to
> the east of Asia, if there weren't other, unknown continents someplace
> out there.

It's pretty impressive what they did know. For example, in Ptolemy's
Almagest, he explains why it is day for six months and night for six
months at the poles, even though no one had ever been there, and how
to calculate the lengths of day and night at any place on earth at
any time of year.

On the other hand, Ptolemy also wrote a work on astrology. People tell me
he probably believed in it.
--
Ignorantly,
Allan Adler <a...@zurich.csail.mit.edu>
* Disclaimer: I am a guest and *not* a member of the MIT CSAIL. My actions and
* comments do not reflect in any way on MIT. Also, I am nowhere near Boston.

Rich Rostrom

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Apr 12, 2007, 6:35:34 PM4/12/07
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Stephen Graham <gra...@u.washington.edu> wrote:

>Rich Rostrom wrote:
>
>> It is probable that the first person
>> to see the western Pacific and eastern
>> Atlantic was a Moslem traveler.
>
>Much more likely some Carthaginian trader.

I doubt that... Carthage had connections
in the Med and into the Atlantic, but not
into the Indian Ocean. Egypt was controlled
by Greeks.

The Romans had Atlantic and Indian Ocean
links, but the latter went no further than
India AFAIK.

Moslems from Spain and the Maghreb of course
went to Mecca, and the Islamosphere reached
out to the Indies in the 1200s. There were
Moslems in China much earlier than that;
the question is whether any of them would
go west of Baghdad/Mecca, or anyone from
Maghreb/Andalus would go east. It's possible
that some venturesome type who had been to
Andalus and seen the Atlantic might travel
to Cathay, too. Whether he bothered to go
on past Chang'an to the seacoast...

That's why I think it was a mariner.

Stephen Graham

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Apr 12, 2007, 7:53:40 PM4/12/07
to
Rich Rostrom wrote:
> Stephen Graham <gra...@u.washington.edu> wrote:
>
>> Rich Rostrom wrote:
>>
>>> It is probable that the first person
>>> to see the western Pacific and eastern
>>> Atlantic was a Moslem traveler.
>> Much more likely some Carthaginian trader.
>
> I doubt that... Carthage had connections
> in the Med and into the Atlantic, but not
> into the Indian Ocean. Egypt was controlled
> by Greeks.

Why do you think Egypt being controlled by Greeks (which is only true at
times) is a bar to an individual Carthaginian traveling into the Indian
ocean.

> The Romans had Atlantic and Indian Ocean
> links, but the latter went no further than
> India AFAIK.

As I mentioned earlier, there is ample evidence of Roman trade and
diplomatic missions in Southeast Asia and China. You might, for
instance, look at Kenneth Hall's Maritime Trade and State Development in
Early Southeast Asia.

But any reasonable history of Southeast Asia will mention it. Which is
why I know of it, with a MA in Burmese history.

> Moslems from Spain and the Maghreb of course
> went to Mecca, and the Islamosphere reached
> out to the Indies in the 1200s.

Given that you don't have Muslims until after 600 CE, I think it's
highly unlikely that any Muslim was the first to see both the Atlantic
and Pacific.

Rich Rostrom

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Apr 14, 2007, 1:17:08 PM4/14/07
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Stephen Graham <gra...@u.washington.edu> wrote:

>> I doubt that... Carthage had connections
>> in the Med and into the Atlantic, but not
>> into the Indian Ocean. Egypt was controlled
>> by Greeks.
>
>Why do you think Egypt being controlled by Greeks (which is only true at
>times) is a bar to an individual Carthaginian traveling into the Indian
>ocean.

What's he doing in the Indian Ocean?

Trade voyaging? Unlikely - he's a foreigner
in Egypt. That's the bar. It's difficult to
operate in a foreign country, but with direct
communication with the homeland, it's possible.
There's a base to draw on.

But going another step, to where communication
passes through an intermediate country; that
IMHO is far more difficult and unlikely.

OTOH, the Greeks went west as well as east;
to Massilia (Marseille) and Narbo (Narbonne);
some could easily venture to Gibraltar.

One such might (before or after) have been
roaming the Erythraean Sea as far as India
Extra Gangem.

>> The Romans had Atlantic and Indian Ocean
>> links, but the latter went no further than
>> India AFAIK.
>
>As I mentioned earlier, there is ample evidence of Roman trade and
>diplomatic missions in Southeast Asia and China.
>

>But any reasonable history of Southeast Asia will mention it. Which is
>why I know of it, with a MA in Burmese history.

There was some very thin contact between Rome and China;
I've never heard of Romans in Burma, or Thailand, or
Indochina, or Malaya.

However, the Romans were based in Egypt. The Carthaginians
were not.

>You might, for instance, look at Kenneth Hall's
>Maritime Trade and State Development in Early Southeast Asia.

If I had access to a university library...

Stephen Graham

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Apr 15, 2007, 1:29:07 AM4/15/07
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Rich Rostrom wrote:
> Stephen Graham <gra...@u.washington.edu> wrote:
>
>
>>>I doubt that... Carthage had connections
>>>in the Med and into the Atlantic, but not
>>>into the Indian Ocean. Egypt was controlled
>>>by Greeks.
>>
>>Why do you think Egypt being controlled by Greeks (which is only true at
>>times) is a bar to an individual Carthaginian traveling into the Indian
>>ocean.
>
>
> What's he doing in the Indian Ocean?

Exploring, seeking new opportunities, perhaps sold into slavery. There
are several different reasons.


> One such might (before or after) have been
> roaming the Erythraean Sea as far as India
> Extra Gangem.

And might also have been the first to see the Pacific and the Atlantic.

The point is that it is unlikely that a Muslim traveller was the first;
there are too many opportunities before 600 CE for someone else.

> There was some very thin contact between Rome and China;
> I've never heard of Romans in Burma, or Thailand, or
> Indochina, or Malaya.

So? As I said, it's easy enough to verify in any competent history of
Southeast Aisa.

>>You might, for instance, look at Kenneth Hall's
>>Maritime Trade and State Development in Early Southeast Asia.
>
>
> If I had access to a university library...

Or interlibrary loan.

David Craig

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Apr 18, 2007, 11:19:14 AM4/18/07
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In article <3cSdnZM80cRxK7zb...@speakeasy.net>, Stephen
Graham wrote:
> perhaps sold into slavery
Indeed - which could even mean that he was a she.

David Craig
http://www.strum.co.uk

Charles Manoras

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Sep 25, 2010, 4:09:31 PM9/25/10
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"mike3" <mike...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1176110030.8...@y80g2000hsf.googlegroups.com...

Metternich the famous Austrian statesman and diplomat claimed that the
boundary between Europe and Asia ran along the middle of a certain street
in Vienna. I do not remember which one! :-)

CM cartesys(at)gmail(dot)com

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