Age of Discovery

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**1. Overview of the Age of Discovery:**

– Portuguese exploration of the African coast began in 1418.
– Bartolomeu Dias reached the Indian Ocean in 1488.
– Christopher Columbus discovered a continent uncharted by Europeans in 1492.
– Amerigo Vespucci’s name was given to the discovered lands.
– The Treaty of Tordesillas divided the world into two regions of exploration.

**2. Impact of European Exploration:**

– European exploration led to the Columbian exchange.
– New plants, animals, diseases, and cultures were exchanged.
– The era saw the rapid decline of American Indian populations due to diseases.
– Enslavement, exploitation, and military conquest of native populations increased.
– European culture and technology spread globally.

**3. Criticism and Challenges of the Age of Discovery:**

– Indigenous peoples challenge the concept of discovery and colonial claiming.
Exploration has been framed for colonial ventures and exploitation.
– The term ‘Age of Exploration’ has been criticized.
– The concept of contact has been used to shed light on colonialism.
– The period is seen as an unfinished and diverse project.

**4. Technological Advancements and Geographic Knowledge:**

– Adoption of the magnetic compass was crucial for navigation.
– Ship advancements led to lower long-distance shipping costs by the 14th century.
– The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea described trade routes in the Indian Ocean.
– Muhammad al-Idrisi created a world map in 1154.
– Europeans used a dry compass with a needle on a pivot.

**5. European Expansion and Exploration Expeditions:**

– Europeans discovered Australia in 1606, New Zealand in 1642, and Hawaii in 1778.
– Portuguese trade disruption was a main objective of early exploration voyages.
– French, English, and Dutch entered the race of exploration after 1495.
– Russian exploration and conquest of Siberia and Alaska from the 1580s to the 1730s.
– English expeditions to the western coasts of North and South America started in 1497.

Age of Discovery (Wikipedia)

The Age of Discovery also known as the Age of Exploration, part of the early modern period and largely overlapping with the Age of Sail, was a period from approximately the 15th century to the 17th century, during which seafarers from a number of European countries explored, colonized, and conquered regions across the globe. The extensive overseas exploration, particularly the European colonization of the Americas, with the Spanish and Portuguese, and later the British, at the forefront, marked an increased adoption of colonialism as a government policy in several European states. As such, it is sometimes synonymous with the first wave of European colonization.

A replica caravel, the Caravela Vera Cruz, navigating the Tagus river, Lisboa. These smaller vessels played a significant role in Iberian exploration.
Nao Victoria managed to carry out the first circumnavigation in history. The present image shows a replica of Victoria, built in 1992, visiting Nagoya, Japan, for Expo 2005.

European exploration outside the Mediterranean started with the maritime expeditions of Portugal to the Canary Islands in 1336, and later with the Portuguese discoveries of the Atlantic archipelagos of Madeira and Azores, the coast of West Africa in 1434, and the establishment of the sea route to India in 1498 by Vasco da Gama, which initiated the Portuguese maritime and trade presence in Kerala and the Indian Ocean.

During the Age of Discovery, Spain sponsored and financed the transatlantic voyages of the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus, which from 1492 to 1504 marked the start of colonization in the Americas, and the expedition of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to open a route from the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific, which later achieved the first circumnavigation of the globe between 1519 and 1522. These Spanish expeditions significantly impacted the European perceptions of the world. These discoveries led to numerous naval expeditions across the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, and land expeditions in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia that continued into the late 19th century, followed by the exploration of the polar regions in the 20th century.

European exploration spurred global trade and colonial empires, initiating the Columbian exchange between the Old World (Europe, Asia, and Africa) and the New World (the Americas and Australia). This exchange involved the transfer of plants, animals, human populations (including slaves), communicable diseases, and culture across the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

The Age of Discovery and European exploration involved mapping of the world, shaping a new worldview and facilitating contact with distant civilizations. Simultaneously, the spread of new diseases, especially affecting American Indians, leading to rapid population declines. The era saw widespread enslavement, exploitation and military conquest of native populations concurrent with the growing economic influence and spread of European culture and technology.

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