Tag Archive | Christopher Columbus

The Inhumane Side to Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus is one of the greatest navigators in history. He is given a revered position in all cultures. He was long held to be the first European to lay his foot on American soil. It is no wonder then that second Monday in the month of October is celebrated as Columbus Day all across America. In schools children are taught that Columbus was a hero. But quite contrary to the teaching the man was a cruel murderer. It is true that America was exposed to the so-called civilised world by Christopher and his men, but he also inflicted slavery, warfare and inhumane acts that destroyed the native people of America. These are some actions that go unmentioned at most times while delineating the true character of Christopher Columbus.

 

There was a dark side to Christopher Columbus

Throughout his voyages, Columbus was never respectful of the natives he encountered. When he landed in America, he saw many unclothed men and termed them as “Indians”. On viewing their nakedness he thought they lacked customs, culture and religion. So, Columbus got on with his task of preaching Christianity as well as thought of new ways to exploit these natives. They were easy to conquer and lacked any idea of trade. So he thought of enslaving them. Columbus’s arrogance is portrayed in some letters he wrote to his friends. He wrote about finding many islands that were filled with innumerable people who were his. He never thought that the lands were not his nor did the people who inhabit them. He took over the lands and renamed them, to let everyone known of his conquest. He returned back to Spain with many new items including some kidnapped Indians.  This was just the beginning of his cruel acts.

 

Naked native Indians were easy to exploit and enslave

Columbus’ true feats of exploitation and slavery began on his second voyage to America. Columbus exposed the order by Isabella and Ferdinand which stated that the natives should be treated kindly. In 1494 Columbus began exporting large numbers of slaves from America. He started exporting slaves as there was not much profit elsewhere on the islands. But there was abundance of people and that served as his mode of income. When this news reached the crown of Spain they did not want any more slaves to be sent, but Columbus ignored it. Thousands of Indians began to be exported and by the time they reached Spain usually a third of them were dead. One of Columbus’ fellow explorer commented that they did not require any compass to travel to and fro from Spain to America, they had to simply follow the floating dead bodies of the Indians who were tossed overboard when they died. Exportation of natives caused thousands of deaths. And all this was for Columbus’ craving for glory.

 

Native Indians were forced into Slavery and shipped to Spain

Indians who were not exported worked as slaves on the islands. Columbus let his fellow settlers decide on the Indians they wanted as slaves. According to an account by Fernandez Armesto “ach settler had slaves to work for them, dogs to hunt and beautiful women to warm their beds.” The degradation of natives did not bother Columbus or his mates in any way as this was seen as rights for superiors. Enslavement was not the only hardship that native Indians had to put up with. In one of the incidents Columbus got news that Indians were planning to attack his men who had been sent in search of gold to the hills. Immediately Columbus sent four hundred soldiers to massacre the Indians. He felt that the Christians could do no wrong, thus when reports came of Spaniards terrorizing the Indians and stealing their food, Columbus promptly punished the victims.

 

Many Indians were killed in Spanish massacres

There were other atrocities committed by Christopher Columbus and his men. Michele de Cuneo, a Spanish who was travelling with Columbus reported that one day they came upon a canoe which was carrying some Indians. Spanish attacked the canoe and they thought all the Indians had been killed, but one survived and was swimming away. Soldiers caught the Indian and cut his head with an axe. Cuneo also records the rape of a woman which received the blessings of Columbus. Columbus believed he had the right to capture women and then pass them on to his men and Spanish soldiers enjoyed the women without their consent.

 

Women were raped by Columbus' men

Columbus and his men committed many other horrific activities in the name of subduing the enemy. Once they made an example out of an Indian by cutting his hands and tying them around his neck and let him go to spread the news.

 

These acts are not that of a hero they are inhumane and cast a glance upon a hidden side of Columbus’ character.

 

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Is Vinland Map Fake or Real?

Vinland Map is a unique ancient map that shows Asia, Africa, Europe, Greenland, Iceland and a significant land known as Vinland which is located to the southwest of Greenland. If this is a real map (as it is claimed to be) then it proves the fact that Vikings were the first to have sailed to North America. The map would also prove that the New world was known to Europeans before Christopher Columbus set foot on America. The Vinland Map was found in 1957, about three years before the Viking settlement of L’Anse aux Meadows was discovered in Newfoundland. This 15th century map is claimed to show a substantial Viking exploration of the world. It was found along with a medieval text known as “Hystoria Tartarorum” or Tartar Relations, which has been confirmed as an authentic work and is dated from 1440 AD. The Tartar Relation which describes the history and manners of Mongols was written by a Franciscan scholar named Giovanni De Pian Del Carpini.

The Vinland Map

The parchment upon which the Vinland Map was drawn has been carbon dated. It has justified that both the map and Tartar Relation belong to the same period. But there is a great controversy over the genuineness of this map. This map is not attributed to Carpini and no one really knows who drew it. The scientists have also discovered amounts of anatase titanium dioxide contained in the ink of map. This is a 20th century substance. Researchers also question the actual substance of the Vinland Map. They feel the map is dated much later than 1440 to at least 17th century. There are wormholes in the map just like Tartar Relation, but both these worm holes are not same. This proves the fact that map was inserted later. The map also appears to be created out of two different parchments which were glued together, which scientists associate with the work of a forger.

Map proves Vikings were first to set foot on North America

But in 2009 a research conducted under the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts refuted all the fake allegations. They claimed that all tests conducted upon the map for the last five years showed no signs of forgery. Though the scientists have gone on to question the quality of ink and pattern of wormholes.

Tartar Relation which was found with The Vinland Map

There are studies still under way to prove conclusively whether the Vinland Map is real or a fake.

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Where Did Christopher Columbus Land in America?

Though Vikings are the first Europeans to set foot on American mainland but the credit of discovery of America is still given to Columbus and there is no mystery upon this. When Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 he did not know he would change the course of history and connect the old world with the new world of America. From the initial days there has been a debate as to where Columbus landed on America. Documents claim that Columbus landed on the Bahamas Island in his quest for Asia. But which island no one seems to have a clue.

Christopher Columbus - Man who Discovered Americas

Many scholars have been studying the written logs of Columbus to come to a conclusion. Some modern navigational experts have even tried a backwards journey following the logs from a specific Canary Islands across the Atlantic but there have been not much success. A dairy of Columbus was founded and many felt this would provide definitive answers to a long mystery. But the dairy was only partially written by Columbus himself as most parts are supposed to have been written by Dominican sea friar who had been in the crew of Columbus. Description of the island on which Columbus and his crew landed is controversial. It is mentioned in the dairy that the island had agricultural features. Most of the islands in the Bahamas are agriculturally rich. There is a phrase in the dairy “una laguna en medio muy grande” which the scholars feel describes a large lake in the middle of the island or a large lagoon near the shoreline.

Map of Present day Bahama Islands

In the diary it is clearly mentioned that Columbus landed on an island named San Salvador, so there must not be any room for confusion as there is an island named San Salvador in Bahamas. But fact is San Salvador came to be known by its present only after 1920s. Earlier it was known as Watlings Island. Some scholars have sited Samana Cay as the possible landing site of Columbus.  But there are other islands been debated over as well such as the Plana Cays, Grand Turk, Mayaguana and Conception Island.

Notes of Columbus on his Travel to America

Columbus had mentioned over and over again before his death that he had landed on an island very close to Asia. It would never be possible to retrace Columbus’ route as there have been many changes in the location of landmasses ever since.

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Piri Reis Map: Amazing yet Mysterious

Piri Reis map is considered to be one of the most interesting and beautiful maps surviving from the Great Age of Discoveries. This map was discovered in 1929 at Topkapki Serai in Istanbul when the palace was being converted into a museum of antiquities. The surviving map is only one third of the larger world map supposed to have been drawn by Piri Reis. The rest of the map has been lost in time. The map shows the eastern coast of South America, western coast of Africa and the northern coast of Antarctica. The northern coast of Antarctica has been etched with perfect details. This map is also considered to be the oldest map of Americas. Some even feels that it is a copy of the map that Christopher Columbus followed on his travels. Piri Reis map has measurements and spherical trigonometric calculations that are centuries ahead then said time period of the Piri Reis map.

The Piri Reis Map

Who was Piri Reis?

Piri Reis was a famous Ottoman admiral who was born between the years 1465-70. He joined the crew of his uncle at an early age. His uncle was also an admiral in the Ottoman navy. He went around the world with his uncle for fourteen years, travelling to the coasts of Italy, Spain, North America and other islands of the Western Mediterranean. In 1513 Piri Reis returned to Gallipoli (his birthplace) after the death of his uncle. It is here that he created first of his world maps. The map was created on evidences collected by Piri during his naval expeditions. He collected notes, charts and even made sketches of the places he visited. Though in the present times some scholars feel he had access to the Imperial Library in Constantinople and he collected a lot of evidence from there. In 1528 Piri created his second world map. In 1554 when he was in his eighties he was beheaded by orders of the Sultan. Sultan issued such an order as Piri was reported to have fled from the war which the Turks lost against the Portuguese. After beheading him all his possessions were brought to Topkapki Palace in front of the Sultan.

Portrait of Piri Reis

Mysteries

There is not much of a mystery in the information mentioned above. But the mystery starts with Piri Reis’s depiction of Antarctica. There was accurate depiction of a continent some 300 years before it was discovered. In fact all the land masses mentioned in the map are accurate. But there is only one issue. In the Piri Reis map Antarctica coastline has been depicted as ice free. But every study concludes that Antarctica coastline or Queen Maud Land was ice free only as early as 4000 B.C. So mystery unfolds.

Modern Interpretation of Antarctica according to Piri Reis' Map

Scientists have confirmed that Antarctica was ice free millions of years ago. So did Piri Reis commit a mistake or was the map drawn before ice covered Antarctica? Many believe that the map could not be drawn millions of years ago as there was no evidence of mankind back then. Research has further revealed that Antarctica was totally ice free about 6000 years ago. So was there another civilization that knew the modern skills of drawing a map?

Earliest civilization we know of is the Sumerians but they did not exist anywhere close to 6000 years ago. Some of the Sumerian texts depict their ancestors as god like people having supreme skills. In the recent past there has been a debate about the existence of advanced human civilization before the great deluge. Some scholars feel that Piri Reis found one such map or antiquity during his expeditions; he must have used that map as a reference to construct his own. Others feel that the map was not drawn by Piri Reis at all; it was work of some advanced civilization. There are many other mysterious facts in the map:

North and South America depicted in Piri Reis Map

  • Close scrutiny of the map shows that the map maker knew the exact circumference of the Earth within 50 miles which is tough to know for a seafarer from the 15th century.
  • The map shows exact latitudes of South America and Africa though it was drawn just 21 years after Columbus’ discovery of America. But it has to be kept in mind that Columbus did not North America, he just set foot on Caribbean.
  • The map depicts Earth as seen from space. It is close to the modern day sophisticated satellite maps.

Piri Reis map seems to be much ahead of the times; many scholars feel that the exact locations and style of mapping followed in this map could not have been possible in fifteenth century Europe. Thus most scholars claim that Piri Reis map is from time much before the known civilization and created by men using advanced technologies.

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