October 12, 1492
"First Contact" - Strange vessels appear in the waters off the
coast. Odd-looking humans come to shore. They are pale-
skinned, with hairy faces, and wearing strange clothes. They
carry frightening and powerful weapons. They have fantastic
new animals with them, the likes of which have never been
seen around here before.
The aliens claim the land as theirs and name it "San Salvador."
...but was this REALLY "first" contact???
Early signs of other people "Out There"
(write this down)
-Around the year 1000, the Vikings (from
Scandinavia) appeared along the East coast of Canada and the
They briefly settled, but their colonies either died out or were
absorbed by Natives.
-The Olmec Indians built curious stone heads that look nothing
like Native Americans.
-When he reached Haiti, Columbus discovered the Arawaks in
possession of spear points made of a gold and copper alloy
called "guanine." In West Africa, they make a gold and
copper alloy called "guanine."
Olmec Stone Heads...Found facing East...towards
(L) Viking artifacts founds in Canada.
(R) L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland,
Canada. Archeological site of Viking evidence.
More Early signs of Others from "Out
There" (write this down)
-Chinese legends describe a place called "Fu Sang"
which is equivalent to our legend of Atlantis. Some
maps have been discovered that describe Fu Sang
in such a way that it could possibly be a reference to
-We DO know that Chinese Explorer Zheng He
between 1405 and 1433 sailed much of the known
world, from East Asia to the East Coast of
Africa. Whether or not he "discovered" America is
still being debated.
A 1763 Map supposedly based on a 1418 map of the
world made by Chinese explorer Zheng He.
To further add to the mystery...
Irish legends about St. Brendan describe him going on a sea
voyage and seeing "an Island of Fire" (volcano?) and a "crystal
Ancient Roman, Greek and Phoenecian coins have been found
in North and South America (none under controlled,
professionally-conducted archeological digs).
There are similarities between the blowgun and paper-making
styles of native Indonesia and the Indians of South America,
suggesting an anthropological link.
Topic 1: (write this down)
We also DO know this:
Columbus came to America from Spain.
By sailing west from Spain, Columbus had hoped to find a
quicker, cheaper and safer way to Asia.
Columbus assumed that the world was smaller than it was and
that Asia was only one week's voyage west of the Canary
A 1500 map giving an idea of Columbus' idea of the
Asia? (write this down)
Columbus was looking for a quicker, cheaper and safer route to
Asia because Asia had valuable trade goods that there was a
high demand for in Spain and the rest of Europe.
(Write this down)
Whichever nation could get to Asia the fastest could be very
Portugal had gotten to Asia by going around Africa to the
south. In 1493, Vasco da Gama returned from India with
enough spices to recover a 400% profit.
Portugal made it first because they had been exploring the
African coast since the early 1400s, when Prince Henry
established a school of navigation and sponsored voyages
along the African coast.
Spain did not want to risk conflict with Portugal, so they took a
chance by going west.
(Write this down)
To set to Asia, you have to go across the Mediterranean Sea.
The trade route across the Mediterranean are controlled by the
These City-States VIOLENTLY protect their business interests,
and would not be welcoming to Portugal or Spain trying to buy
"direct from the manufacturer."
Even if the Portuguese could make past the Italians, the
Greeks, Turks, Arabs, and Persians also stood in their way.
The solution? (write this down)
Go around them all by finding an all-water route through or
What made Europeans
so interested in
(This painting is not
accurate. The meeting
it depicts took place in
a cow pasture, but that
would be a lousy
Pope Urban II speaking to the Council
"Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private
warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end
with victory this war which should have been begun long ago."
Deus le Volt! (God Wills It!)
Hundreds of people from all walks of life began
marching towards the Holy Land to cleanse it of the
"infidels" with the Pope's assurance that anyone who
died in battle or along the way would get into
Heaven, and that anything you stole from the
"infidels" was a gift from God, so it wasn't stealing.
Results of the Crusades...(summarize)
A handful of squabbling European knights controlled Modern-
day Syria, Lebanon and Israel for about 100 years.
The technologically superior Muslims had successfully booted
them out by the 1190s.
But the European desire to "reclaim" the Holy Land endured, as
did the Muslim dislike and distrust of Western Europe.
Europeans were also exposed to Asian goods for the first time.
This led to the demand for them....and the riches that could be
had by trading them.
(write this down)
Italian City-States like Genoa, Venice, Florence and Milan
became incredibly wealthy trading spices bought from Middle
Eastern traders to the Western Europeans. Their wealth
funded the Renaissance. Since they gave 10% to the Church,
it became insanely wealthy too.
The hope of getting a share of wealth is what drew Western
European nations (like Portugal and Spain) to explore.
While Portugal searched for and established an Eastern route,
Spain looked westward.