Early American History
The Age of Exploration
Interesting Facts
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Thorvald - Thorvald was Leif Eriksson's brother. He was the third
European to visit America. He had planned on staying in America to build a
settlement. One day while scouting for a place to settle, he saw three
mounds on the beach. The mounds turned out to be over-turned canoes.
Under each canoe were sleeping three Native Americans. Thorvald
foolishly killed all the Natives except for one who escaped. The next day,
the Indian returned with a large group of Native American's in canoes.
Thorvald was the first European to be killed by Native Americans.

Thorfin and Gudrid Kalsefni - Thorfin Kalsefni and his wife Gudrid were
Vikings who settled in America for a while. They came to America with
other Vikings and three ships loaded with cattle, and sheep. They stayed
for three years, but then returned home.

Viking Sacrifices - Vikings sacrificed animals to their gods, and
sometimes people.

Eratosthenes - Eratosthenes was a Greek mathematician in Alexandria,
Egypt, about 1200 B.C. E. Eratosthenes was in charge of the library in the
city of Alexandria. Alexandria was the center of learning and information for
the time. Eratosthenes was able to accurately estimate the size of the

Ptolemy - Ptolemy was a Greek geographer, astronomer, and
mathematician who lived in Egypt during the 2d Century. He drew a map
(160 C.E.) of the world which was not accurate. It depicted Asia as too
large, and the earth as smaller than it really is. Although Ptolemy was
wrong and Eratosthenes was right, people forgot about what Eratosthenes
had said. In 1492 Christopher Columbus used Ptolemy's map when he
sailed to North America. Magellan used the same map in 1519 when he
began his sail around the world.

Copernicus - Nicholas Copernicus was a polish priest and scientist.
Ptolemy, another scientist had suggested the Earth was the center of the
solar system. In 1543, Copernicus disagreed with Ptolemy. Copernicus
suggested the sun was the center of the solar system.

Galileo - In 1609, Galileo built the world's first useful telescope. He began
to make scientific observations about the stars. Galileo suggested that
Nicholas Copernicus was right and that the Earth did revolve around the
sun. When Galileo agreed with Copernicus, he was put under house

Armillary Sphere - Was like a giant globe of the sky. It showed the
positions of the stars.

Abraham Zacuto - Abraham Zacuto was a Portuguese scientist and
mathematician. His charts helped sailors determine their latitude. His
charts also told about eclipses of the moon and sun. Christopher
Columbus carried Zacuto's charts on his voyages.

Admiral Zheng He - Zheng He was a Chinese Muslim and sea captain. 60
years before Columbus, he had sailed across the Indian Ocean from China.
He commanded a fleet of 100 Chinese Junks that carried 25,000 men. His
own ship measured 400 feet long. Columbus'Santa Maria was only 85 feet

Agricultural Revolution - Columbus'discovery of the Americas began the
Agricultural Revolution. Plants and animals were exchanged between the
Americas and Europe. This exchange of goods would help feed the
growing world population. Europeans introduced to the Americas horses,
cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, honey bees, wheat, Asian rice, barley, oats,
soybeans, sugar cane, onions, lettuce, okra, peaches, pears, watermelon,
citrus fruit, rye, bananas, olives, and chickpeas. Europeans would bring
back from the New World corn, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, chocolate,
vanilla, tobacco, beans, pumpkin, cassava, avocado, peanuts, cashews,
pineapple, blueberries, quinine, sunflowers, wild rice, squashes, marigolds,
petunias, turkey, and sweet potatoes.

Moluccas - The Moluccas were called the Spice Islands during the 15th
Century. The Moluccas are in the Indian Ocean in Indonesia, just south of
the Philippine Islands, and west of New Guinea.

Balboa - Balboa married Chief Camaco's daughter. The Chief had told
Balboa about a place that was "flowing with gold."The place was Peru,
and the Native peoples were the Incas. While Balboa was preparing for his
expedition to Peru, Captain Enciso had arrived in Spain and reported that
Balboa was a traitor and mountaineer. The people of Spain believed
Enciso. A new Governor was sent to Panama. The Governor had Balboa
beheaded. His head was placed on a spike for all to see. The Spanish
officer who arrested Balboa was named Francisco Pizarro. Later Pizarro
sailed from Panama to Peru in search of the Inca gold.

Patagonia - Magellan called some Native people in southern South
America Patagonians. They wore bushy furs and had painted faces.
Magellan's crew thought these people had unusually large feet. However,
they probably wore roomy moccasins stuffed with straw to keep their feet
warm. The tip of South America is only 500 miles from the Arctic Circle.
The Native people in the area had to wear clothing that would keep them