Navigation - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics

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Early Navigation

Prior to the fifteenth century, European mariners were reluctant to sail out of sight of land, partly because they feared getting lost and partly because they did not know what lay beyond the horizon. Thus, sailing voyages by Europeans were largely confined to the Mediterranean Sea or close to shore in the Atlantic Ocean. The high and broad continental shelf of Northern Europe, where the continent ends and the ocean begins, allowed for shallow sailing waters within sight of land from the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) to Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark).

The Vikings of Scandinavia were renowned coastal navigators. Not only did the Vikings sail the coast of Europe, but they also followed the continental shelf into the Northern Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland, and ultimately to North America. Although such extended voyages were remarkable accomplishments, they involved no sophisticated navigational techniques.

Today's tall ships, shown here during the Tall Ships 2000 transatlantic race, preserve the history of early sailing vessels. Today's tall ships, shown...

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This section contains 2,389 words
(approx. 8 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Navigation Encyclopedia Article
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Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics
Navigation from Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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