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Review the texts found in Newitt, as well as text by Duarte Pacheco Pereira and the “Logbook” of Columbus (document 12 in Symcox, pp. 65-83). In all of these texts the authors describe their practices of navigation, that is, the way they guided their ships towards their destinations. Determine the skills required for navigation in the fifteenth century and describe the methods used by sea captains then. What were the most reliable practices used by these mariners? Were maps and charts, compasses and astrolabes useful? Or were the time-worn practices of observing natural phenomenon (birds, winds, tides) more useful? Assess the role of “science” in these early expeditions, deciding if these early voyages relied more on new techniques or on old sailors’ practices. Assume that the use of maps, compasses, astrolabes, charts, tables, and calculations—in sum, anything requiring numbers and abstract thought—pertain to “scientific” methods.
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