Oceans, Seas, and Rivers: Maritime Travel and Exploration in the Ancient World

The first true ocean-going boats were invented by the Austronesian peoples. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction Maritime history dates back thousands of years. In ancient maritime history,[1] evidence of maritime trade between civilizations dates back at least two millennia.[2] The first prehistoric boats are presumed to have been dugout canoes which were developed independently by various stone age populations.[…]

Indigenous Navigation and Settlement of the Ancient Pacific

By 10,000 years ago, humans had migrated to most habitable lands that could be reached on foot. The islands of the Pacific remained. Introduction Indigenous navigation of the Pacific Ocean and its settlement began thousands of years ago. The inhabitants of the Pacific islands had been voyaging across vast expanses of ocean water sailing in[…]

Colonies and Empires: From the Medieval World to the Age of Discovery

For the colonizers, it was a tremendous success. For the colonized, it was a catastrophe of epic proportions. Introduction 1492: a decisive date in the history of humanity. For some, it was a tremendous discovery; for others, it was a catastrophe. It constitutes a clear demarcation in history, because the discovery of America would call[…]

Francis Drake’s Circumnavigation of the Globe, 1577-1580

Drake was on an official mission to find a trade route – and a secret mission from Queen Elizabeth to plunder and attack the Spanish. Introduction The English mariner, privateer, and explorer Francis Drake (c. 1540-1596 CE) made his circumnavigation of the world between 1577 and 1580 CE. Only the second man to achieve this feat[…]

The Age of New Imperialism, 1870-1914

The new imperialists set up the administration of the native areas for the benefit of the colonial power. Introduction Although the Industrial Revolution and nationalism shaped European society in the nineteenth century, imperialism—the domination by one country or people over another group of people—dramatically changed the world during the latter half of that century. Imperialism[…]

The Northwest Passage as a Voyage to Myth and Adventure

The myth of the Northwest Passage is part of the northern romance of the conflict between men and nature. Myth Not many people have long stories—only short stories. Little stories, here and there. We don’t know much at all. – Quoted in Dorothy Harley Eber, Encounters on the Passage: Inuit Meet the Explorers. Toronto: University of[…]

Illustrators of the New World: The Image in the Spanish Scientific Expeditions of the Enlightenment

In the 18th Century, most travelers and explorers had painters and illustrators at their sides who recorded their adventures. Abstract In the Eighteenth Century, with the boom in the exploration of the Earth, most travellers and explorers had painters and illustrators at their sides who recorded their adventures, even their deaths, the exotic locations they[…]

The Pirate-y Life of Ferdinand Magellan

Magellan’s voyage in search of the “Spice Islands” was marked by storms, sharks, and scurvy—plus multiple attempts at mutiny. By Lorraine Boissoneault From the start, it was hard to know whose side Ferdinand Magellan was on. Born in northern Portugal around 1480, Magellan, an orphaned son of lesser nobles, spent decades serving the Portuguese crown[…]

Icescapes: A History of Exploring and Printing the Arctic

Arctic ice has long proved a stern adversary to explorers. Exploring the representation of this fearful foe by explorers across the centuries. As Francis Spufford’s 2003 book I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination argues, ice has a powerful hold on the English imagination. Today this is commonly articulated by summoning the names of[…]

European Explorations in the 18th and 19th Centuries

An introduction to the development, sponsorship, and goals of European expeditions from the eighteenth to the nineteenth centuries. By Christopher Lawrence Introduction In David Livingstone’s overland expeditions in Africa, as in most nineteenth-century expeditions, science and medicine played a key role in geographic exploration. In fact, many expeditions deliberately set out to acquire new scientific[…]

18th-Century Voyage for the Northwest Passage

There were many expeditions in search of a Northwest Passage during the 1700s. They include the voyages of Frances Smith, Samuel Hearne and James Cook. By the end of the century, George Vancouver had explored the northwest coast in detail. In 1670 the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) was founded as a commercial enterprise to obtain[…]

The Spice Islands and the Age of Exploration

It can easilybe argued that the United States exists today becausemedieval Europeans liked spicy food. Introduction The Spice of Life History can be changed by many things. A battle,an election, an earthquake, or even a rainstorm can alter the course of events. But would you ever have thought that peppercorns and cinnamon sticks could lead[…]