Chronology of European exploration of Asia

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**Early Land Exploration**:
– 515 BC: Scylax explores the Indus and the sea route to Egypt.
– 330 BC: Alexander the Great conquers parts of Central Asia and northwestern India.
– 300 BC: Seleucus Nicator’s unsuccessful foray into northwestern India.
– 250 – 120 BC: Greco-Bactrian states in Central and South Asia.
– 180 BC – 10 AD: Establishment of the Indo-Greek Kingdom in present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and north-west India.

**Middle Ages Exploration**:
– ~500–1000: Dominance of Radhanites in trade between Christian and Islamic worlds.
– ~550: Geographical descriptions by Cosmas Indicopleustes from travels to Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, and Sri Lanka.
– 568: Eastern Roman general Zemarchus’ travels to Samarkand and the Western Turkic Kaganate.
– 639–640: Muslims subjugate Egypt, disrupting direct trade between Europe and India.

**Silk Road Trade and Exploration**:
– 13th century: Height of Silk Road trade during the Pax Mongolica.
– 1245–1247: First European embassy to the Great Khan in Mongolia.
– 1264–c. 1269: Expeditions of Niccolò and Maffeo Polo to China.
– ~1318–1329: Travels of Franciscan friars Odoric of Pordenone and James of Ireland to China.

**European Exploration of Asia by Sea**:
– 1487–1491: Pêro da Covilhã gathers information for a sea route between Portugal and India.
– 1557–1572: Anthony Jenkinson’s travels across the Caspian Sea to Bukhara and Persia.
– 1583–1591: Ralph Fitch’s travels to India and Portuguese Malacca.

**Noteworthy Discoveries and Explorers**:
– 1488: Bartolomeu Dias reaches the Cape of Good Hope.
– 1497–1499: Vasco da Gama reaches India by an all-sea route.
– 1519–1522: Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition circumnavigates the globe.
– 1549: Francis Xavier arrives in Japan as a missionary.
– 1582: Matteo Ricci reaches Ming China and co-publishes the first world map in Chinese.

This is a chronology of the early European exploration of Asia.

The Fra Mauro map, completed around 1459, is a map of the then-known world. Following the standard practice at that time, south is at the top. The map was said by Giovanni Battista Ramusio to have been partially based on the one brought from Cathay by Marco Polo.
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