Who On Earth Thought That the World Is Flat? >:(

It’s a common misconception that Ancient and especially Medieval People thought that the world was flat. That misconception came around in the 1800’s with histories written by authors like  John William Draper, Washington Irving, and Andrew Dickson White, In reality Ancient people realized that the earth was round. The Ancient Greeks were one of the first known to have a spherical viewpoint of the Earth. Educated people in the Middle Ages knew very well that the Earth was spherical and even knew it’s circumference to a degree. Christopher Columbus’s dispute over going to the “East Indies” was not due to the Earth being flat or spherical, but that they believed that he underestimated the circumference of the Earth and that he couldn’t make it without running out of supplies unless there was some unknown continent (which there was). They thought he was ridiculous in that he had the math all wrong…

Columbus mistakenly used a much shorter length for a degree (he substituted the shorter 1480 m Italian “mile” for the longer 2177 m Arabic “mile”), making his degree (and the circumference of the Earth) about 75 percent of what it really was.[20] The combined effect of these mistakes was that Columbus estimated the distance to Japan to be only about 5,000 km (or only to the eastern edge of the Caribbean) while the true figure is about 20,000 km. The Spanish scholars may not have known the exact distance to the east coast of Asia, but they believed that it was significantly further than Columbus’ projection; and this was the basis of the criticism in Spain and Portugal, whether academic or amongst mariners, of the proposed voyage.The disputed point was not the shape of the Earth, nor the idea that going west would eventually lead to Japan and China, but the ability of European ships to sail that far across open seas. The small ships of the day (Columbus’ three ships varied between 20.5 and 23.5 m – or 67 to 77 feet – in length and carried about 90 men) simply could not carry enough food and water to reach Japan. The ships barely reached the eastern Caribbean islands. Already the crews were mutinous, not because of some fear of “sailing off the edge”, but because they were running out of food and water with no chance of any new supplies within sailing distance. They were on the edge of starvation.[21] What saved Columbus was the unknown existence of the Americas precisely at the point he thought he would reach Japan. His ability to resupply with food and water from the Caribbean islands allowed him to return safely to Europe. Otherwise his crews would have died, and the ships foundered. (Wikipedia)

Tensions between science and religion in the 1800’s spurred the flat earth myth as propaganda against the religion side.


About persnicketythecat

I like ancient and medieval history!
This entry was posted in Ancient History, Early Modern History, Middle Ages. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Who On Earth Thought That the World Is Flat? >:(

  1. Carol says:

    You find very interesting topics.


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