History’s Turning Points: Who Didn’t Discover America II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider history’s turning points: who really discovered America.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Setting aside legendary, ethnic, and national enthusiasts, there are basically three candidates in the race for European discovery of the Western Hemisphere. Prior to the voyages of Columbus, who clearly laid the groundwork for the genocidal destruction of native-American culture and the colonization by Europeans of the western isles, the second group to settle parts of America were Norsemen from Scandinavia. Until the 1800s, most scholars confined the Norse sagas firmly to the realm of legend. Then archeological discoveries made it clear that part of their narrative was true. The first to land in the West was Bjani Herjolfsson who missed his landing on Greenland and briefly touched Labrador. He shared his discovery with Leif Ericson, and in several attempts the Vikings tried to settle the flat, wooded country they called Vineland, but the Norse were not colonizers. They lacked the capital necessary to establish permanent settlements and soon cold, wolves, and hostile natives caused them to abandon their attempts after about a dozen years.

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History’s Turning Points: Who Didn’t Discover America I

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider history’s turning points: who really discovered America.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The ongoing debate surrounding Columbus Day, the annual celebration in the United States of that fateful dawn in October 1492 when Italian explorer, in service to the Spanish crown, Christopher Columbus, made landfall in the Bahamas, is often quite lively. Yet, in reality this is essentially a Euro-centric argument. Scholars or ethnic advocates exercise their theories and marshal their evidence over which European or eastern explorers “discovered America.” Surprisingly, there are not a few ideas about who beat the Genoese sea captain to the Western hemisphere and they often originate with ethnic groups and their cheer leaders. Legendary black Africans were said to have made it to western shores in 1500 BCE followed by Phoenicians in 600 BCE and Roman explorers in 64 CE. One of the most interesting conjectures is that of a Chinese expedition led by Hoei-shin, sailing east across the Pacific in the year 499. The exotic legend of the Irish cleric St. Brendan who, with 17 monks, discovered a western island where birds actually spoke Latin before piloting their Celtic boat covered with skins back to Ireland.

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Voyage of Magellan IV

Lead: Seeking a passage through the American land mass as a short cut to the rich spice islands of East Asia, Ferdinand Magellan and a crew sailed south along the coast of South America in the early months of 1520, looking for strait to take them through.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: While wintering in San Julian, a harbor in present day southern Argentina, three of his captains led a mutiny that threatened the expedition, but Magellan ruthlessly suppressed it, killing one leader, beheading another and leaving the third stranded on the beach. The rest of the mutineers Magellan wisely pardoned.

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Voyage of Magellan III

Lead: Commissioned by King Charles I of Spain to find a short cut through the Americas to the islands of southeast Asia, Ferdinand Magellan in command of five ships left the Spanish port of Seville in August, 1519. Thus began one of history's greatest voyages of exploration.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Prior to the voyages of Columbus beginning in 1492 and the systematic exploration of Africa by the Portuguese in the 1480s and 90s, Europeans had little accurate information about the earth's size. Their knowledge was based on the theories of the second century Greek writer Ptolomy who underestimated it. Because of this geographers were convinced that Japan and China lay only a few thousand miles west of Europe. Columbus's trips proved those estimates to be wrong. With the first accounts of Vasco de Balboa who reported finding a new Pacific Ocean on the other side of the new world in 1513, it appeared that the earth was quite large indeed.

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Voyage of Magellan II

Lead: In 1519 Ferdinand Magellan sailed from the port of Seville in Spain. Three years later one of his ships returned, having circumnavigated the globe. Such a voyage was possible because of a revolution in the technology of exploration.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: That Europeans should increasingly find themselves on shores far from home came about as a result of advances in the design of ships, expansion in the understanding of navigation and a sea change, as it were, in the way overseas exploration was financed.

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Voyage of Magellan I

Lead: On August 10, 1519, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese sailing master of noble upbringing in service to the King of Spain, set sail on one of history's greatest voyages of discovery.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1400 Europeans knew little more than the Romans about the rest of the world. The tantalizing stories brought back by exploring merchant traders such as Marco Polo told of an advanced civilization in the Far East. This served to stimulate the European imagination but did little to expand contacts with a much wider world.

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Quest for Mt. Everest III

Lead: After repeated pre-war attempts, in the early 1950s Mt. Everest finally bent to repeated assaults. The mountain was scaled by New Zealand beekeeper, Edmund Hillary, and Sherpa guide, Tensing Norgay.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: After World War II, Communist China invaded Tibet and blocked exploration of Everest from the North. The southern approaches were taken through Nepal and a reconnaissance expedition was mounted by that route in 1951 by the Brits. The following year two strong Swiss teams attempted to scale the mountain in the Spring and Fall but were stopped by severe weather both times just short of the summit.

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Quest for Mt. Everest II

Lead: The challenge of Mt. Everest was clear from the time its height was determined in the 1800s, but attempts to reach the summit are not known to have begun until the 1920s.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The peak of Mt. Everest is one of earth’s most hostile places. The air is thin. No crops can be grown there. No domestic animals can live there. Any attempt on the summit would require taking along those things necessary to sustain life. Long months of adaptation to the high altitude, supplementary oxygen in tanks, food and water would have to be dragged up nearly impassible terrain which, in the early days, no one had ever crossed. The key to the eventual success of the assault on Everest was a nomadic people, Tibetan-speaking clans who struggled for survival on the lower slopes of the mountain by trading and herding livestock. These are the Sherpa. They were capable of carrying the large loads of supplies that made the climb possible.

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