walkitout (walkitout) wrote,


Having had a variety of conversations with R. lately about our respective high school history class experiences, I have concluded that I can't assume that anyone learned any particular thing in history class, even assuming they learned a whole lot and are quite well rounded.

That said, in the course of slowly reading _Food in Early Modern Europe_ online through questia, I ran across a description of the exploration process that led to Columbus tripping over the Americas and dramatically changing the way everyone ate in the whole world altho not right away. Sure, I knew about astrolabes and quadrants and I knew about Henry the Navigator. What I did not know about were portolan charts. Actually, I sort of did, but I sure didn't know that's what they were called, and I actually really only knew about the periplus component, not the T and O map that went with it, and I was largely familiar with how they were used. Not really a new idea, after all -- just an expansion of the way people had been navigating the Mediterranean for, oh, millenia.

I mention portolan with great excitement because portolans with a different meaning were a crucial element of Melissa Scott's trilogy, The Roads of Heaven. And there's a lot more overlap than just the name between the two.

Also, I had not realized that some of the agricultural innovation in the same time frame was the result of people reading really old Roman manuscripts and rediscovering old crop rotation technique. *sigh*
Tags: geekitude
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment