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History Questions Not Worth Their Own Thread VIII

Discussion in 'World History' started by Flying Pig, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

    Sep 14, 2005
    There wasn't really any incentive for them to do so. The construction of large ships capable of travelling on the open ocean is very costly in terms of resources and human labour. The only societies in the Americas which were complex enough to bring these resources together weren't located close to viable sea trade routes. Plausibly some of the societies in the Caribbean and the adjacent mainland were complex enough that they could have developed large ship-building technologies given sufficient time, but at the time of European contact, many of these societies were experience a reduction in complexity due to changing climate, so their historical trajectory didn't seem to be in that direction. Even if they had developed such technologies, they would have had a lot of America to explore before anyone felt the need to see what lay over the horizon.

    In contrast, pre-modern Europe can reasonably be thought of a series of large bodies of water ringed by human polities, so the sea was much more important from a far earlier stage, and corresponding resources devoted to exploiting it. Asia is on the whole less easily conceived of in these terms, but contained vast enough populations that there were as many people as in Europe for whom it made sense to think of the world as a network of seas, and who correspondingly developed sophisticated nautical technologies.

    Even the Norse were still essentially island-hopping, which is a bit different than just sailing into the great blue yonder. The existence of other lands can be deduced from currents and birds long before they are ever seen, and it is very likely that this contributed to the Norse discoveries of Iceland, Greenland, and North America. Most of these discoveries will have been preceded by deep-sea fishing expeditions which obtained these "hints", rather than just somebody pointing into open sea.

    It's honestly a matter of dumb historical luck that the European discovery of America didn't more closely resemble this: Basque and Portugese fishing fleets had been visiting the Newfoundland cod banks for decades before Columbus landed on San Domingo, so it was probably just a matter of time before somebody figured out there was a continent just a few hundred miles West.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
  2. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

    Nov 29, 2006
    I've heard China described, at least so far as trade goes, as essentially an island nation. To their south is dense jungle. To their north is empty steppes. To their west are terrifying mountain ranges and deserts. Any large scale economic activity will therefore have to go by ship.
    Traitorfish likes this.
  3. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

    Sep 14, 2005
    The Roman writer Jordanes wrote that "the inhabitants of Caledonia have reddish hair and large loose-limbed bodies".

    I have no idea what is meant by "loose-limbed" in this context. Is this a Roman expression, or is it a contemporary expression which I've never encountered?
  4. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

    Jan 13, 2008
    US of A

    I've encountered the expression in a number of writings. But I couldn't really give you a description of what is meant by it. :dunno:
  5. Imaus

    Imaus King

    Sep 26, 2016
    Supple, vitality, nimble;

    Looking at the untranslated transliterated Jordanes text,

    13 Noctem quoque clariorem in extrema eius parte minimamque Cornelius etiam annalium scriptor enarrat, metallis plurimis cupiosam, herbis frequentem et his feraciorem omnibus, que pecora magis quam homines alant: labi vero per eam multa quam maximae relabique flumina gemmas margaritasque volventia. Silorum colorati vultus; torti pleroque crine et nigro nas****ur; Calydoniam vero incolentibus rutilae cumae, corpora magna, sed fluuida: Gallis sive Spanis, ut quibusque obtenduntur, adsimiles. 14 Vnde coniectavere nonnulli, quod ea ex his accolas contiguo vocatos acceperit. Inculti aeque omnes populi regesque populorum; cunctos tamen in Calydoniorum Meatarumque concessisse nomina Dio auctor est celeberrimus scriptor annalium. Virgeas habitant casas, communia tecta cum pecore, silveque illis saepe sunt domus. Ob decorem nescio an aliam quam ob rem ferro pingunt corpora.

    Cornelius also, the author of the Annals, says that in 13
    the farthest part of Britain the night gets brighter and
    is very short. He also says that the island abounds in
    metals, is well supplied with grass and is more produc-
    tive in all those things which feed beasts rather than men.
    Moreover many large rivers flow through it, and the
    tides are borne back into them, rolling along precious
    stones and pearls. The Silures have swarthy features
    and are usually born with curly black hair, but the inhab-
    itants of Caledonia have reddish hair and large loose-
    jointed bodies. They are like the Gauls or the Spaniards,
    according as they are opposite either nation. Hence some 14
    have supposed that from these lands the island received
    its inhabitants, alluring them by its nearness. All the
    people and their kings are alike wild. Yet Dio, a most
    celebrated writer of annals, assures us of the fact that
    they have been combined under the name of Caledo-
    nians and Maeatae. They live in wattled huts, a shelter
    used in common with their flocks, and often the woods
    are their home. They paint their bodies with iron-red.

    "Calydoniam vero incolentibus rutilae cumae, corpora magna, sed fluuida"

    Jordane's late latin basically says they have good fluid bodies, nimble, agile, that nature.
  6. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

    Dec 4, 2006
    @Imaus Nicely done :) I thought of looking for the original text also, but thought it would be greek - which would be completely hopeless for me!

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