Here are some of the most important technological breakthroughs that helped spark the Age of Discovery.
Source: Matt Gibson/TwitterAnother very important technological innovation of the age was the traverse board. This relatively simple device helped ships, like Caravals, stay on track on long voyages.
It was, in effect, a sort of early computer and helped keep things organized on the ship. Using it, sailors during the Age of Exploration could record the speed of their ship and the direction in which it had traveled over a given period of time.
This tool was, to put it mildly, a priceless piece of kit to early explorers and sailors.
3. The galleon was a behemoth of the seas
Modern ship”s compass, Source: Ships & Seas/TwitterThe magnetic compass and rose were also incredibly important inventions that helped spark the Age of Exploration. Consisting of a magnetized needle, compasses provided sailors with an amazingly powerful navigational aid.
By providing a reliable way to find “magnetic north”, this amazing device is thought to have first been developed in China around the 11th century.
The importance of this relatively simple device to this period of history cannot really be understated.
5. The pintle-and-gudgeon stern-mounted rudder was another important invention
Source: Markus Neilbock/Wikimedia CommonsThe Ka-Mal, or kamal, is yet another important technological innovation that helped kick off the Age of Discovery. Consisting of a piece of wood and a piece of string, this tool was used to estimate a vessel”s latitude at sea.
First thought to have been developed by Arab sailors in the 9th-century, this is the first device known used to estimate one”s latitude.
The person using it would line up the horizon with the bottom of the device and then sight Polaris using the other end. Once everything lined up perfectly, the user could calculate the approximate position of the ship.
This simple device was, for a time, an invaluable tool in many a long-voyage sailor”s tool kits until it was superseded by the cross-staff.
7. The cross-staff eventually replaced the kamal
Source: Antoine Léon Morel-Fatio/Wikimedia CommonsAnother critically important technological tool for the Age of Exploration was the lead line. Also known as a sounding line, it consisted of heavy lead weight on a length of rope, this very simple device was used to take depth recordings of the ocean floor.
This was important information as it helped sailors determine the type of ocean they were currently sailing over and ensure the ship wouldn”t become beached, or worse, wrecked on reef or submarine rock outcrop.
It could also be used, with modification, to take samples from the seabed.
9. Timekeeping devices were essential for navigation
Source: tin/TwitterAnd finally, other critical pre-requisites for the Age of Exploration weretimekeeping devices. Not only were they used to help keep things in order on deck, but they were also vital for calculating the speed at which a ship was traveling at a given moment.
This information is of critical importance for navigational purposes, and even simple sand hourglass tools were used initially. As mechanical clocks became more widespread towards the end of the middle ages, they would be used on many ships during the Age of Discovery.
Without any of these great technological innovations ever being developed, the momentous events of the Age of Exploration may never have occurred. Or, just perhaps, they simply sped up the inevitable.