Viking Expeditions Begin
The Vikings begin to explore and colonize Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. They are among the first to use the North Star to determine their latitude.
The Chinese send out seven voyages consisting of over 300 ships and a combined crew of nearly 37,000. These voyages are designed to extend Chinese influence and impress their neighboring states. Economic pressures back home put an end to these expensive voyages after only a short time.
Ptolemy's Map Rediscovered
Ptolemy's famous map of the world is published once again after the European crusades capture ancient Roman libraries from the Arab peoples.
Voyage Christopher Columbus The Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus sets out on his historic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a passage to China and India. Instead, he discovers North and South America, which eventually leads to European colonization of these newly discovered continents.
Voyage of Vasco da Gama The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama sails his ships around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa and becomes the first European to reach India by boat. The expedition later returns to Portugal with a valuable cargo of rare spices.
September 20, 1519
First Circumnavigation of the World Ferdinand Magellan and his fleet depart Portugal to begin a daring voyage of discovery. The fleet would become the first sail around the world. Magellan does not live to see their accomplishment. He dies on the Island of Mactan in the Philippines in 1521 from the poison arrows of the local natives.
First True Diving Bell Guglielmo de Lorena invents the first true diving bell. The apparatus rests on divers shoulders and has much of its weight supported by slings. The bell provides enough air for the diver to breathe for about a one-hour dive.
First Plans for a Submarine An English mathematician named William Bourne draws up the first known plans for an underwater boat. These plans call for a leather-covered wooden frame craft that would be rowed from the inside. There is no evidence to suggest that this craft was ever built.