Many Europeans travelled abroad when the Middle Ages came to an end as a result of their newfound confidence. These pioneers relied on a few key pieces of equipment while utilizing the most recent scientific and technological advancements.
Here are a few of the most significant technological advancements that allowed sailors to navigate the seven seas during the Age of Exploration.
What was the Exploration Age like?
The Age of Exploration, often called the Age of Discovery, was when Europeans extensively explored the world. Many European ships searched for new trade routes and partners throughout this historical period, primarily between the 15th and early 17th century, to help feed the expanding economic might of numerous governments on the continent.
As a result of this extension of the world, Europeans met new people and learned about new civilizations. They also surveyed numerous previously unexplored regions of the globe. Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, John Cabot, Juan Ponce de León, and Ferdinand Magellan are only a few of the most well-known explorers from that era.
This massive pan-European undertaking originated in the Renaissance’s new scientific discoveries and intellectual innovations. The following will cover some of these fantastic advancements, but not all of them.
What were some of the most significant technological breakthroughs that led to the exploration of the age?
Here are some key technological advancements that ultimately led to the Age of Exploration without further ado. This list is not all-inclusive, and it has no particular hierarchy.
- The Caravel was an example of the era’s technological marvels.
The introduction of the Caravel was one of the most significant technological developments of the period. This relatively small sailing vessel served various purposes during the Age of Exploration.
The Portuguese created These ships for the first time in the 15th century and would later dominate the seas.
Others found employment as battleships, fishing boats, patrol boats, pirate ships, and exploration vessels. Many were utilized just as freight ships. Even in their day, building a ship was inexpensive, and they all weighed between 50 and 200 tons each.
Many Europeans were transported by these swift, adaptable, and seaworthy ships to distant locations.
- During the Age of Exploration, the traverse board was a crucial piece of equipment.
The traverse board was another key technological advancement of the time. This comparatively essential gadget on lengthy trips kept ships like Caravals on course.
In a way, it served as an early computer and aided in maintaining order on the ship. It allowed sailors during the Age of Exploration to keep track of the direction and speed of their ships over a specific amount of time.
To put it bluntly, this gadget was priceless equipment for early explorers and seafarers.
- The ship was a sea monster.
The ship was yet another significant technological advancement during the Age of Exploration. This ship, created in the 16th century, significantly improved over earlier vessels like the Caraval.
Galleons were the “one-size-fits-all” of the seas and could be easily adapted for various tasks based on requirements. They could readily be transformed into trading ships during times of peace or floating forts during times of conflict.
They were great for resisting all but the most potent enemy ships because their hulls contained a lot of ribbing and bracing.
- The magnetic compass and rise represented a significant advance in technology.
The magnetic compass and rose were both hugely significant discoveries that contributed to the advent of the Age of Exploration. Compasses, which consist of a magnetized needle, were an incredibly effective navigational tool for sailors.
This astonishing invention, which offers a dependable means to locate the “magnetic north”, is said to have been created in China in the 11th century.
It is impossible to overstate the significance of this relatively simple instrument at this time in history.
- The stern-mounted pintle-and-gudgeon rudder was a significant development.
The pintle-and-gudgeon stern-mounted rudders, another important prerequisite technology for the Age of Exploration, are said to have been created sometime in the 12th century. Large ships and boats used simple oars or quarter rudders to move before they were developed.
The technology quickly spread outside of Europe. They became a priceless resource for seafarers during the Age of Discovery combined with fully rigged ships.
- Are you familiar with the Kamal?
Another significant technological advance that contributed to the beginning of the Age of Discovery is the Ka-Mal, also known as the Kamal. This device, made of wood and some string, was used to determine a ship’s latitude at sea.
This is the first known tool used to assess one’s latitude, and it was once believed to have been created by Arab mariners in the ninth century.
The user would align the horizon with the device’s bottom and then sight Polaris with the other end. The user could determine the ship’s general location when everything was precisely aligned.
This straightforward gadget served as a helpful tool in many long-voyage sailors’ toolkits for a while until being replaced by the cross-staff.
- Eventually, the cross-staff took the role of the Kamal.
The cross-staff, also known as Jacob’s staff, was used to determine a ship’s latitude at sea and was similar to the Kamal in many ways. The cross-staff performed similarly to the Kamal but was far more dependable and precise.
It was made of two pieces of wood that crossed one another to form an extended T, as the name would imply. Each staff also featured some measurement rule that tracked the length of the staff along which the crossbar needed to move up or down to align the horizon and Polaris star.
This reading would approximate the star’s angular height and, consequently, the ship’s latitude.
- The standard lead line was still another significant technological advancement.
The lead line was another crucial technological advancement during the Age of Exploration. This fundamental tool, also known as a sounding line, was used to record the depth of the ocean floor. It was made of a hefty lead weight attached to a length of rope.
To avoid becoming stranded or wrecking on a reef or underwater rock outcrop, sailors needed to know what kind of ocean they were now travelling through.
With some modifications, it might also be used to collect samples from the ocean floor.
- Timepieces played a crucial role in navigating
Finally, timekeeping instruments were another essential prerequisite for the Age of Exploration. They were essential for determining the speed of a ship at any given time, in addition to helping to keep things organized on deck.
This information is crucial for navigating purposes, and at first, only crude sand hourglass gadgets were employed. The use of mechanical clocks on ships increased throughout the Age of Discovery as they extended throughout society at the end of the Middle Ages.
The significant events of the Age of Exploration might only have taken place with these outstanding technological advancements. Or maybe they only hastened the inevitable.