An Abbreviated History of Oceanography

An Abbreviated History
of Ocean Travel and
The First Explorers
 4000 B.C.: Egyptians sail along the coast of the
Mediterranean Sea.
 1500 B.C. Phoenicians
 Developed navigation
 First to sail outside the Mediterranean Sea: to Britain,
North Africa, Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea
 Founded first fishing ports
 Traveled mainly for trade with other civilizations
 1500-1000 B.C.: Explored
South Pacific (though some
evidence suggests they may
have began exploring as many
as 30,000 years ago!)
 Colonized Samoa, Tonga,
Easter Island, Fiji, and the
Hawaiian Islands.
 Why did they explore?
Depletion of resources
Political tensions
Religious strife.
Polynesians Continued
 How would these early
ocean explorers know where
to find land in a vast sea if
they had never been there
before? Remember that they
don’t have GPS, a compass,
or even a map.
 Marine Life
 Smells (believe it or not, land
has a unique smell from
things like flowers).
 Bird migration patterns
(probably most important)
 Stars
 900-700 B.C.: Begin to explore
outside Mediterranean.
 Thought that the
Mediterranean was
surrounded by land, which
was surrounded by a circling
river called Oceanus.
 600 B.C. Pythagoreans
assume a spherical Earth.
 450 B.C. Herodotus produced
first map of the Mediterranean.
Greeks Continued
325 B.C. Alexander the Great
establishes the Library of Alexandria
in Egypt.
 Every ships log put in library
 Maps were drawn from logs
 Developed trade and art.
 Library was burned in 415 AD.
235-192 B.C. Eratosthenes
estimates circumference of Earth
using geometry. He estimates
39,350 kM. Actual is 40, 067 kM.
127-51 B.C. Ptolemy produced the
first world atlas called Geographica.
circumference.Columbus used
this map to get to East Indies. What
do you think happened?
 700-1000 AD.
 Voyaged to seek adventure
and treasure.
 Superior shipbuilders and
 First to sail to North America.
Famous Vikings
 Erik the Red: Sailed from
Iceland and discovered
 Leif Eriksson: Son of Erik
the Red. Sailed from
Greenland in 1002 AD and
reached North America
(Canada) 500 years before
 Some say that American
colonists reported seeing
Native Americans with
blonde hair and blue eyes,
but this may just be myth.