What were the technological advancements that enabled Europeans to explore the Atlantic Ocean? Please discuss the impact of these discoveries.Please describe these advancements with as much detail...

What were the technological advancements that enabled Europeans to explore the Atlantic Ocean? Please discuss the impact of these discoveries.

Please describe these advancements with as much detail as possible. It seems like it would have quite an intriguing impact, but I can not seem to understand this topic. Please help me understand, your time is kindly appreciated.

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saintfester's profile pic

saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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There were many important advances in maritime technology that allowed the Age of Exploration to begin.

One of these was an advance in mapmaking. Cartography had been an art form for many years, but it wasn’t until the Renaissance when Ptolemy’s ancient system of latitude and longitude was rediscovered that mapmakers were able to make surprisingly accurate and useful maps.

In the 1400’s, Portuguese sailors developed celestial navigation techniques, which allowed sailors to determine their position relative to the stars and sun. This allowed ships to travel farther and farther from shore without being lost at sea as previous.

Improvements in shipbuilding created stronger hulls and sleeker lines. New sails were created that were more wind efficient and led to the ability to sail into oncoming wind. Ships also began to move faster in the water and draw less wind resistance thanks to new hull shapes away from their boxy predecessors.

The astronomical compass was another important navigational tool that allowed navigators more of an idea about where they were headed. Although the compass had been around since 1190, this new compass was essential to astral navigation.

Finally, the stern-mounted rudder, developed in the early 12th century, was the first rudder to be attached to a ship by iron hinges. This tool of mobility was essential to future ships designs.

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mrkirschner's profile pic

mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The work of Johannes Gutenberg in 1440 was instrumental in the ability of Europeans to explore distant lands by sea. Gutenberg developed a printing press which could be used to mass-produce knowledge for the masses. The printing press has been almost universally considered the most important invention of mankind since the wheel. In 2013, The Atlantic ran an article which reiterated its importance. With the printing press, information could be transmitted faster and more efficiently and for a larger audience. This was important to overseas exploration in a number of ways. First, maps were becoming more accurate and could be reprinted more efficiently. In this way, mariners could use them and revise them as needed. This information could then be reprinted and the knowledge would continue to spread.

Another reason that the printing press was important to exploring the new world had to do with publicity. With the printing press, the exploits of the navigators could be easily documented and read by the masses. This encouraged other countries to seek new routes and new lands. These stories captured the imagination of the readers. The printing press also allowed the spread of many of the technologies that were surfacing to improve navigation.

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