What were the technological innovations that allowed for exploration and what other factors helped make sailing that far possible?  This question is from Chapter 22 of Traditions & Encounters...

What were the technological innovations that allowed for exploration and what other factors helped make sailing that far possible?  This question is from Chapter 22 of Traditions & Encounters by Bentley and Ziegler.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In the chapter that you are asking about, there is a subsection that is entitled “The Technology of Exploration.”  The answers to your question can be found there.

In that subsection, the authors list a number of technological innovations that allowed Europeans to go on voyages of exploration in the 15th century and beyond.  The first set of innovations comes under the heading of “Ships and Sails.”  The Europeans borrowed and developed ship and sail technologies that allowed them to sail farther under harsher conditions.  One of these was the sternpost rudder.  This technology made their ships more maneuverable.  A second was the combination of square and triangular sails.  By using both of these kinds of sails, Europeans were able to sail their ships into the wind.  This allowed them to explore areas even if the winds in those areas were blowing the “wrong” way.  A second set of innovations comes under the heading of “Navigational Instruments.”  Europeans needed these instruments so that they could know where they were going and where they were.  The book mentions the magnetic compass as well as instruments like the backstaff, which were used for measuring latitude.

As for other factors that do not have to do with technology, there is a subsection that is entitled “Knowledge of Winds and Currents.”  Here, we are told that the Europeans gained a great deal of knowledge about the geography of the Earth.  As they sailed on their voyages, they collected information about things like the directions in which winds blew and the directions of currents in various areas of the world.  This knowledge made it easier for them to know how to sail from place to place, thus allowing them to make long voyages more easily.

Thus, we can see that technological innovations, along with an increase in knowledge, allowed Europeans to engage in voyages of exploration.

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