Historical Views of the Ocean

Many ancient cultures believed the Earth was once flat. However it was during the 6thcentury BC, in ancient Greek astronomy that the concept of a spherical earth was developed.   The mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras famously expanded on this idea. Aristotle (384-322BC) also acknowledged this theory of a rounded earth during 330 BC and it was later accepted by the larger community beyond the Hellenistic world (323-30BC).   Greek astronomer Eartosthenes was the first person to determine the circumference of the Earth in approximately 200 BC.

Attempts in sea exploration have been recorded dating back to 4000 BC in ancient Egypt, however it was the Chinese who made significant headway in sea exploration. Although little has been documented about Chinese sea exploration, historical and archaeological evidence points to prolific sea-faring activity and exploration where remarkable logistical and technical achievements were made especially during the Ming dynasty when Emperor Zhi Di ruled between 1425-1435. Emperor Zhi Di commissioned many expeditions reaching major trade centres of Asia. Explorers such as Zheng He were actually thought to have reached the Americas eighty years before Columbus, even though Columbus is generally credited today as having been the first to reach the area. Many other continents and countries are also believed to have been visited by the Chinese long before European colonisation. It is thought he Zheng He encountered many different cultures, fighting the more hostile regions and creating diplomatic relations with others. Eventually the general consensus was that these elaborate expeditions were wasteful and expensive and were eventually ended by Zhi Di, drawing to a halt Chinese sea exploration at that time.

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