Exploration has been a primary method of acquiring knowledge for centuries. Even before the Age of Exploration in the early 15th century, brave explorers from around the world had been extensively charting new territory. From voyaging across oceans in massive sailboats, to the competitive Space Race in the mid 20th century, exploration has progressed significantly through history. An examination of the motives and results of exploration, the adoption of foreign culture through exploration and the relationships between indigenous people and explorers will establish how the aspect of exploration has evolved from the 15th century to today.Explorers always set out to explore foreign land for a reason. Whether it be to trade materials with foreign nations, discover a passage, advance science or learn more about an indigenous culture, there is always a motive for an expedition. Vitus Bering was tasked in 1724 by Tsar Peter I of Russia to discover something that would change cartography forever. Bering was appointed to determine whether or not Russia was connected to North America by a land bridge. During his expedition, he located the Aleutian islands and found that Russia and North America were not connected. This discovery was crucial for the development of charts of the Arctic and North Pacific oceans. Jacques-Nicolas Bellin was a French cartographer who published a map of the Bering Strait in 1747. The map shows various expedition paths taken by Bering and other appointed Russian explorers that made important cartographic discoveries in the Northern Pacific. Another explorer who made notable discoveries was Captain James Cook. In 1769, an expedition was created by the British government to document a rare phenomenon only visible from the southern hemisphere. The planet Venus was due to pass in front of the sun, and the government wanted scientific documentation of the event. Another motive for the voyage was to find Antarctica, which was a mysterious continent at the time. Cook was the commander of this expedition. Cook travelled on the HMS Endeavour, a British Royal Navy vessel that was made specifically for research. Botanists, artists and astronomers accompanied Cook to help document his discoveries. Cook’s life was spent exploring a wide breadth of islands all around the world which can be seen on an online map created by John Platek. His input into the advancement of science was definitely extraordinary, especially in his documents of phenomena and records of Polynesian culture. Since Cook’s time, scientific knowledge has continued to develop. It had grown so much that in the 20th century, it was possible to take exploration one step further. Space exploration officially started in 1957 when the Soviet Union launched an artificial satellite called Sputnik 1. This provoked the United States, who were fighting against the Soviet Union in the Cold War at the time. The United States began to believe that the Soviet Union was more technologically advanced than them. The launch of Sputnik 1 influenced the United States to begin constructing their own satellites that would eventually be launched into orbit. This period of time is known today as the Space Race. With space exploration taking off, outer space was vast and perplexing to the public. Throughout the mid to late 20th century, space exploration became so fascinating that space-themed objects, films and toys were made for the public. For example, some Bulgarian postal stamps during the time featured famous astronomers, comets, galaxies and rockets, most likely to appeal to the public eye. The age of space exploration definitely advanced human knowledge of outer space as well as of our planet. Today, the earth and space sciences are studied from telescopes and from satellites like the International Space Station and our knowledge continues to flourish. Exploration is a challenging task. Explorers generally had to leave their family behind knowing that they will not see each other for months or even years. While on their journeys, explorers often adopt aspects of the cultures they encounter. They might come home practicing a different religion, wearing a new clothing style or eating foods they never would have dreamed of eating before. Oftentimes, explorers spread their original culture around as well. For example, an explorer might bring a material such as copper to another culture and that culture may adopt the use of copper for the construction of something. A unique example of the adoption of culture through exploration is Dutch-Indonesian fusion food. The Dutch arrived at the spice islands of Indonesia in the late 16th century in search of native Indonesian spices such as cloves, nutmeg and pepper to bring back to Europe. The Dutch established the Dutch East India Company in 1602 and it became a dynamic European company until it went bankrupt in 1800. At this time, Indonesia became a treasured colony of the Netherlands. The Dutch embraced aspects of Indonesian culture, specifically the cuisine, and created many Dutch-Indonesian fusion dishes. These dishes incorporated aspects of Indonesian food with a Dutch twist. One of the most popular dishes in the Netherlands is called nasi goreng, meaning “fried rice” in Indonesian. Indonesian ingredients can also be found at almost every supermarket in the Netherlands. Some of these staple ingredients include boemboe, sambal and ketjap. The Dutch-Indonesian cuisine found in the Netherlands today is a strong example of how the explorers adopted aspects of the culture that they visited. Another example is the British colonization of India in the 19th century. Even before Crown Rule was established in India in 1858, a large portion of British society took an interest in aspects of Indian culture. The term curry began to be used to describe the British-transformed Indian dish. A good example of this is in the 1758 British cookbook by Hannah Glasse called The Art of Cookery. This book features a variety of fusion recipes made for British people so they would be able to produce “authentic” food in their own homes. A recipe that stands out is called “how to make a curry the Indian way” and it claims to produce an authentic Indian curry. The recipe includes essential spices used in Indian cuisine, such as turmeric and coriander. Curry became widespread in Great Britain with the production of these recipes and is known as one of the most popular Indian food items to this day. In India, there was adoption of culture as well. Once Crown Rule was established, the amount of English language education throughout the country increased. A surprising amount of people gained interest in journalism as well. This shows how aspects of British culture were adopted by the people in India in the 18th and 19th centuries. From language to food, the adoption of culture through exploration comes in many forms. The adoption of culture is almost inevitable, especially when the exploration crew has been exposed to another culture for a long period of time.Exploration is not always favourable for the expedition crew. Explorers often come across indigenous people of the land they are exploring and it can be troublesome when these people do not have a good attitude about foreign explorers. On the other hand, often the explorers take advantage of indigenous people and take them as slaves, use them for profit or create unnecessary conflicts. Therefore, it is important to mention the negative and positive relationships with indigenous people during exploration. An explorer who demonstrated a negative relationship with them would be Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan is known for being the first person to circumnavigate the world, although some beg to differ. On his journey in 1511 to Malacca, a port in Malaysia, Magellan acquired a 16 year old Malay slave who he named Enrique. Enrique would act as Magellan’s personal servant, accompanying him on his voyages. It is said that Enrique was well accustomed to Spanish and Portuguese society once he had been there for a while. He most likely learned the language and aspects of European culture. When Magellan travelled to Southeast Asia, Enrique acted as his interpreter and in Europe, Enrique was proof that Magellan had travelled to the spice islands. Enrique could understand the many dialects of the different islands they travelled to. According to records, Enrique spoke so fluently and passionately that it was even better than Magellan himself. This was particularly helpful for Magellan and his crew so they could form friendly relations with indigenous island leaders. At the news of Magellan’s death in 1521, Enrique was apparently “grief-stricken” and the records become confusing afterwards. Some say Enrique was killed in battle and some say he fled into the forest. However Enrique’s story ended, we know that Magellan took a teenage slave and used him for his exploring needs in Europe and Southeast Asia alike. Whether this was a positive or negative relationship with indigenous people could be debated. Enrique was taken as a slave from his homeland, and this could be seen as a negative relationship. However, Enrique was loyal and helpful for Magellan’s missions. He did not try to escape and did what Magellan asked him to do. Perhaps Enrique was simply accepting his fate, but this side to the story could definitely be seen as a positive relationship. Another relationship that could be seen positively and negatively would be between Samuel de Champlain and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. When Samuel de Champlain arrived in Canada in 1603, he was in charge of mapping the new land and finding ideal areas to start settlements. His maps were then published in books, such as the book Cartes de geographie les plus nouvelles by Champlain himself. This book features a detailed map of New France, New England, New Holland, New Sweden and Virginia. It was during this time that Champlain encountered indigenous people and formed positive alliances in his vast trade network. His allies were the Montagnais, Etchemin and Wendat (also known as Huron) nations. It was not until 1609 when Champlain participated in military campaigns with his allied indigenous people. Champlain’s allies needed help fighting the members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (the Iroquois nation) who were located near present day Lake Champlain. Champlain and a couple other French members set out with their indigenous allies and achieved their goal by taking over the lake. The series of battles that took place are known as the Iroquois wars. Records say that during one battle, Champlain killed three Mohawk chiefs in only two gunshots. With the chiefs dead, the Iroquois apparently surrendered and fled. This side of Champlain’s relationship with indigenous people is pretty negative. If Champlain had convinced the Iroquois and his allies to make an alliance, Champlain could have gained more allies for himself and there would have not been tension between different nations. The positive side of Champlain’s relationship with indigenous people was the fact that he managed to befriend them around Québec City, his settlement. This was positive because the French settlers and indigenous people could trade freely and on equal terms. There was a feeling of trust between Champlain’s indigenous allies and the French, which would be extremely important in the future as more colonies started forming in present-day Québec and Ontario. Similar to Ferdinand Magellan, Samuel de Champlain formed positive and negative relationships with the indigenous people in Canada. Both Champlain and Magellan are known today for their legendary expeditions to foreign territory, but it is foremost important to remember that they both made negative impacts on the indigenous people they encountered as well.Thanks to the analysis of the motives and outcomes of exploration, the adoption of foreign culture by exploration and the positive and negative relations between indigenous people and explorers, one can understand how the aspect of exploration has evolved from the 15th century to today. The reasons for exploration vary. Explorers may be appointed to make a discovery, or the reason could be the desire to be better than another nation, like in the Space Race. Exploration usually leads to the adoption of culture. The Dutch and the British adopted foreign culture through food and Indian people adopted British culture through language. Subsequently, exploration leads to positive and negative relationships between indigenous people and explorers. Ferdinand Magellan captured a Malay slave and and used him for exploration tasks and Samuel de Champlain fought in violent battles, causing sour relations between the French and the Iroquois. However, Magellan and Enrique had a close relationship and carried out exploration together; and Champlain created a strong trade network and developed friendly ties with certain indigenous groups. In a way, exploration has continued to impact an enormous amount of people, no matter the method of exploration or outcomes. From Malaysian slavery and Dutch-Indonesian cuisine to Iroquois wars and the infamous Space Race, exploration has proved itself to be a prominent aspect of world history from the 15th century to today. The only question left is: where will exploration take the human race next?
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