Saturday, 24 August 2013

The First Explorer, The Ancient Adventurers

Exploring all over the world is part of human's curiousity. People  have been exploring ever since humans first existed. Back to the old times, people went exploring to look for foods and good shelters to live. And also, part of the mission was to seek good knowledge, invention discoveries and religion purposes. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians were great explorers as their kings and queens had enough money to support the big trips. The European, Middle East and Asian people were also involved in all kind of adventurers around the world, navigating new routes, discovering new places, and open all countries to the eye of the world.

Harkhuf of Egypt
Harkhuf, the explorer went exploring more than 4000 years ago. The King, Pharaoh Merenre sent him to explore the land of Yam (now part of Sudan in Africa). After exploration, he returned and brought back precious items such as ivory, spices, and wild animal leathers.

Pytheas of Greek
Pytheas  was an ancient Greek who explored the icy north between 380 and 310 BC, and sailed out the Mediterranean Sea, past Spain and Britain and discovered new icy land called Thule (it might have been Iceland or part of Norway). He was the first ancient Greek who saw icebergs, northern lights, big fishes (or whales when he saw it at Scotland) and the shining sun during midnight. But few people believed his stories.

Marco Polo of Venice
Marco was the great explorer from Italy and travelled to Asia a lot. Altogether, his trip length more than 40, 000 km. He began the exploration when he was 17 years old as his father and uncle were merchants who went out to the Far East for business. He went to China with his father and uncle in 1271, a journey who took them 3 years. In China, he stayed and worked with the Emperor, Kublai Khan. The Emperor sent him out for another adventure to South East Asia and the whole China. After spending many years travelling, he returned to Italy in 1295. Later, there was a war at Italy and Marco ended up sharing a prison cell with a writer who wrote his travel tales into a book- The Travels of Marco Polo.

Ibn Battuta of Morocco
Ibn Battuta became an explorer when he dreamed a giant bird picked him up and carried him away. As a Muslim, he believed that it was a message from God. So, he decided to visit every Muslim country in the world. He spent nearly 30 years travelling and visited more than 40 countries (Kenya, Iran, Turkey, India, China etc). Altogether, his trip length was more than 120, 000 km. He stayed at India for 7 years as a judge but then he went away because the Sultan, Muhammad Tughluq was a hot-tempered and cruel man. After spending many years outside, he returned home to Morocco. Then, the Sultan asked the writer to write his life journey and the book was called as Rihala (The Travels). He was a lucky explorer who able to finish his travels alive after being attacked by robbers at India, kept prisoner at Maldives, chased by pirates at Sri Lanka, almost sentenced to death by Indian's Sultan and saw the terrible disease of Black Death. Besides, he got married in many of the places he visited, having several wives and children.

Zhang Qian, Xuan Zang and Zheng He of China
Zhang Qian  was the first explorer who lived as a soldier at first. Then, he was sent to seek a tribe called Yueh-Chih with hope that the tribe would help them fight the enemies. But later, he was captured by the Huns and took him ten years in there. However, when he finally escaped and found the tribe, the tribe refused to help them at all.

Xuan Zhang became an explorer when he refused to work at the temple. He went away to India to learn about Buddhism, sneaked out of China and followed the Silk Road to Afghanistan and went south to India. He spent 16 years studying and collecting good books at there. When he returned home, the emperor forgave him and gave him a royal welcome.

Zheng He was the best explorer of China and he used the huge Chinese junks (his junks were the largest sailing ships on Earth). He sailed out to Indian Ocean, as far as Africa, East Africa and to South East Asia. During his travels, he collected all kinds of great items as presents to the Emperor and he even bought back a live giraffe for the Emperor as a special gift. On a typical expedition, he would take 300 ships with more than 1000 crew members and grow up fruits and vegetables in pots on the decks so they have plenty of food sources.

Bartolomeu Dias
Dias was an European captain who sailed around the bottom of Africa to the Indian Ocean. Dias has a rough journey so he decided to named the southern tip of Africa as The Cape of Storms. Afterwards, it was renamed as The Cape of Good Hope to make sailors think it was safe.

Vasco Da Gama of Portuguese
Vasco, a wealthy nobleman, sailed around The Cape of Good Hope, up to Africa, Malindi and crossed the Indian Ocean to Calicut in India. There, he hoped to buy spices but the Calicut's ruler told him he would have come back, with golds. Although he came back empty-handed, the King of Portugal was happy because the new sea route to Asia had been found.

Christopher Columbus of Italy
Columbus was a famous explorer who discovered America, although the Vikings were the one who found the land around the year of 1000. Columbus found America by mistake when he set sail from Spain in 1492 with the ship- Santa Maria, Nina and Pinta (supported by Queen Isabella of Spain). He wanted to sail and find a new route to Asia where he planned to buy spices.But then, he found a land that he thought he found Japan (it was actually Bahamas,close to American mainland). He also thought that he found India so he named the native Americans as Indians. Later, when he returned to Spain, people believed he had found a new land, they called it the New World.

Amerigo Vespucci of Italy
Amerigo was another famous explorer. In 1507, a map maker put Amerigo's name on the map and changed Amerigo to America. The name stuck on it and the New World called as America.

Ferdinand Magellan of Portuguese
At the start of the 1500s, no one sailed out around the world. So, Magellan decided to sail past South America and across the Pacific Ocean with a thought- he could get to Asia that way. The King of Spain agreed to support his trip and he set off in 1519. During journey, the crew died because of scurvy disease (caused by not eating enough fruits and vegetables). Then, he able to across Pacific, found Philippines and made friends with the King at Cebu. Later, the King wanted him to help him in war, where Magellan and other crews got killed. The rest of the crews escaped, went to Indonesia, and returned to Spain. They were the first people to have sailed all the way around the world.

Francis Drake of England
Drake, a privateer (or a private pirate) went to a-round the world trip in 1577 with Queen Elizabeth I's huge support. He even made huge money after robbing Spanish ships. The Queen, who allowed the robbing paid him a huge reward when he returned after spending 3 years on board.

Captain Cook of England
James Cook spent his trips for 11 years, from 1768-1779. But he was still one of the great explorer. Cook sailed all over the Pacific Ocean and made maps that helped other sailors.  After spending times, working at Tahiti to make measurements and observations of the planet Venus, he went out to look a new continent at the south but he found nothing. Instead, he found Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. During the 3rd voyage, he headed north and in 1778, he found Hawaii. He called it the Sandwich Islands while the Hawaiian thought that he was a god named Lono.

Ref: Miles Kelly
Images: Google search

p/s: I want to sail out too.

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