What technology allowed for European exploration to increase?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The use of a compass and maps became standard on late medieval European ships. Some of these ships, such as small, very flexible caravels, carried a combination of square and triangular sails that allowed them to sail against the wind. When Portuguese ships appeared in the Indian Ocean, they proved...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The use of a compass and maps became standard on late medieval European ships. Some of these ships, such as small, very flexible caravels, carried a combination of square and triangular sails that allowed them to sail against the wind. When Portuguese ships appeared in the Indian Ocean, they proved sturdier than most Indian and Arabian ships, and they carried considerably more guns; this gave them a decisive advantage in a number of key naval battles.

The British and the Dutch had even better artillery than the Portuguese and Spanish. Moreover, the Dutch introduced a very capacious ships called fluyts (flyboats), which needed less human labor than previous ships.

In America, the Spanish used steel swords, rudimentary small firearms, and guns as well as horses and metallic protective armor to conquer the Central and South American Aztec and Inca empires.

European mariners of the Age of Discovery used globes and various astronomical instruments to find the coordinates of their ships in the open ocean. It was much easier to find latitudes than to find longitudes. In the eighteenth century, English artisans invented precise chronometers that finally made it possible to find longitudes accurately.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, new industrial technologies made possible the second big wave of European exploration and colonial conquest. These technologies included repeat rifles, railroads, telegraph lines, quinine for treating malaria, iron- and steel-hulled steamships, and machine guns.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team