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Northern VS Southern (Hemispheres) and World Exploration

Aunt Spiker

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(I'm back to college. Taking Astronomy.)

We were just discussing the role of stars in navigation - how, in order to understand where you are in relation to the greater whole (the rest of the earth / the universe), you benefit from having a fixed-point to compare and measure your movement to/against.

Thus: the North Star, a fixed point, became a reliable point of navigation.

This allowed people who could see the North Star to navigate the globe (land and sea), using the North Star as a reference.

However, the Southern Hemisphere has no fixed point (cannot see the North Star, the only genuinely fixed point in the sky to refer to). Ergo - there is no history of global navigation in the Southern Hemisphere. Not by land, not by sea. Nothing significant. At most, Southern Hemisphere cultures navigated place-to-place (mountain to mountain, sea to sea, river to river, island to island) but were unable to go further.

-- I just thought it was interesting. A few months ago someone here posted about the reputation of the North being 'great' and the South being 'not so great' . . . This lack of a southernmost navigation point might play into why people from the Northern Hemisphere have had an advantage. It's in the stars. However, in our modern racially-charged climate this is critically studied as a matter of 'because white people'. However, the only benefit 'white people' (and not to forget Russians, Asians and others as well, not just 'whites European descendants') had was the North Star as a guide point.

Every great civilization to be seen as a power fixture in various points in History have had a strong grasp of circumnavigation via skypoint. The northern cultures that did not study the night sky and make use of it as a tool did not thrive.
 
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celticwar17

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I mean, you would have to go way back... there were many other methods of finding north other than the north star. And the pacific islanders did plenty of navigating.
 

Aunt Spiker

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I mean, you would have to go way back... there were many other methods of finding north other than the north star.

How would someone in the Southern Hemisphere be able to find North? Without traveling further north / rubbing shoulders with an advanced culture?

More so: if there was a way for them to circumnavigate the globe... why didn't they?

[I wish we could have discussed this more in depth in class... but our focus is more on the Physics of everything.]
 

Grand Mal

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(I'm back to college. Taking Astronomy.)

We were just discussing the role of stars in navigation - how, in order to understand where you are in relation to the greater whole (the rest of the earth / the universe), you benefit from having a fixed-point to compare and measure your movement to/against.

Thus: the North Star, a fixed point, became a reliable point of navigation.

This allowed people who could see the North Star to navigate the globe (land and sea), using the North Star as a reference.

However, the Southern Hemisphere has no fixed point (cannot see the North Star, the only genuinely fixed point in the sky to refer to). Ergo - there is no history of global navigation in the Southern Hemisphere. Not by land, not by sea. Nothing significant. At most, Southern Hemisphere cultures navigated place-to-place (mountain to mountain, sea to sea, river to river, island to island) but were unable to go further.

-- I just thought it was interesting. A few months ago someone here posted about the reputation of the North being 'great' and the South being 'not so great' . . . This lack of a southernmost navigation point might play into why people from the Northern Hemisphere have had an advantage. It's in the stars. However, in our modern racially-charged climate this is critically studied as a matter of 'because white people'. However, the only benefit 'white people' (and not to forget Russians, Asians and others as well, not just 'whites European descendants') had was the North Star as a guide point.

Every great civilization to be seen as a power fixture in various points in History have had a strong grasp of circumnavigation via skypoint. The northern cultures that did not study the night sky and make use of it as a tool did not thrive.

Is the North Star more 'fixed' than the Southern Cross?
Looking at maps of the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and the islands and seas, I can see how people in the north would more likely develop a sea-faring tradition. I doubt that celestial navigation was more available to northerners, especially since most of their navigational discoveries were accidental.
 

celticwar17

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How would someone in the Southern Hemisphere be able to find North? Without traveling further north / rubbing shoulders with an advanced culture?

More so: if there was a way for them to circumnavigate the globe... why didn't they?

[I wish we could have discussed this more in depth in class... but our focus is more on the Physics of everything.]

They looked at other star patterns... The suns position... the moons position. Most cultures had the solstices down pretty well. Even Pre Homo Sapiens managed to navigate to the southeast islands and Australia, like Denisovians . And the Pacific Islanders did almost circumvent the globe... We don't actually know if they made it to the Americas or not... they came very close. We just know they didn't make a huge genetic impact on it's population.

I found a really good excerpt from a Book...."A Comparison of Medieval Arab Methods of Navigation with Those of the Pacific Islands"by Gerald Randall Tibbetts
https://books.google.com/books?id=0...OAhWJFR4KHZV5B8UQ6AEIWDAJ#v=onepage&q&f=false

"It was in the Pacific Ocean where stellar navigation reigned supreme. Micronesian and Polynesian navigators not only sailed from very early times over vast expanses of Ocean without anything that could be called a navigation instrument, they also resisted the use of European instruments right up until fairly recent times, Preferring their indigenous methods of finding their way."

"Basically the Pacific islanders set their course by aiming for points on the horizon identified by being adjacent to the paths of prominent stars. This fact together with the number of days sailing, a system known to the Europeans as dead reckoning, produced the position of their destination. Their actual position at sea was checking by noting the general picture of the heavens, in particular by noticing the stars passing through the zenith..."(pg. 190)

Not only could they easily determine north... they could determine their very position they were in the ocean in reverence to their surroundings.
 

Aunt Spiker

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They looked at other star patterns... The suns position... the moons position. Most cultures had the solstices down pretty well. Even Pre Homo Sapiens managed to navigate to the southeast islands and Australia, like Denisovians . And the Pacific Islanders did almost circumvent the globe... We don't actually know if they made it to the Americas or not... they came very close. We just know they didn't make a huge genetic impact on it's population.

I found a really good excerpt from a Book...."A Comparison of Medieval Arab Methods of Navigation with Those of the Pacific Islands"by Gerald Randall Tibbetts
https://books.google.com/books?id=0...OAhWJFR4KHZV5B8UQ6AEIWDAJ#v=onepage&q&f=false

"It was in the Pacific Ocean where stellar navigation reigned supreme. Micronesian and Polynesian navigators not only sailed from very early times over vast expanses of Ocean without anything that could be called a navigation instrument, they also resisted the use of European instruments right up until fairly recent times, Preferring their indigenous methods of finding their way."

"Basically the Pacific islanders set their course by aiming for points on the horizon identified by being adjacent to the paths of prominent stars. This fact together with the number of days sailing, a system known to the Europeans as dead reckoning, produced the position of their destination. Their actual position at sea was checking by noting the general picture of the heavens, in particular by noticing the stars passing through the zenith..."(pg. 190)

Not only could they easily determine north... they could determine their very position they were in the ocean in reverence to their surroundings.

Interesting stuff - I wonder why, then, their 'taught view' if things hasn't quite updated to include this information. Perhaps it's not the content of the materials, but the age of the professor :)
 

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(I'm back to college. Taking Astronomy.)

We were just discussing the role of stars in navigation - how, in order to understand where you are in relation to the greater whole (the rest of the earth / the universe), you benefit from having a fixed-point to compare and measure your movement to/against.

Thus: the North Star, a fixed point, became a reliable point of navigation.

This allowed people who could see the North Star to navigate the globe (land and sea), using the North Star as a reference.

However, the Southern Hemisphere has no fixed point (cannot see the North Star, the only genuinely fixed point in the sky to refer to). Ergo - there is no history of global navigation in the Southern Hemisphere. Not by land, not by sea. Nothing significant. At most, Southern Hemisphere cultures navigated place-to-place (mountain to mountain, sea to sea, river to river, island to island) but were unable to go further.

-- I just thought it was interesting. A few months ago someone here posted about the reputation of the North being 'great' and the South being 'not so great' . . . This lack of a southernmost navigation point might play into why people from the Northern Hemisphere have had an advantage. It's in the stars. However, in our modern racially-charged climate this is critically studied as a matter of 'because white people'. However, the only benefit 'white people' (and not to forget Russians, Asians and others as well, not just 'whites European descendants') had was the North Star as a guide point.

Every great civilization to be seen as a power fixture in various points in History have had a strong grasp of circumnavigation via skypoint. The northern cultures that did not study the night sky and make use of it as a tool did not thrive.

True, but also consider that the vast majority of the worlds population does, and historically has, lived in the northern hemisphere. Virtually all of Asia, Meso-America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, India, etc lie within the Northern Hemisphere. It is, after-all, where the majority of the habitable land mass of the planet is. Consequently, should it really be that surprising that this is where most civilizations, and accordingly most seafaring and navigational traditions emerged? Similarly, we never saw a sea-faring tradition emerge among the Atlantic, Aztec, Mayan, or Pacific coast Indians.

This seems especially significant since both the Maya and Aztecs (not to mention their precursors) reached a high level of technological and societal sophistication, whereas few civilizations in the southern hemisphere in isolation from the rest of the world reached similar levels of development. The only ones which come to mind are 'Great Zimbabwe', the Inca Empire, and a few fragmentary Bantu or Austrolasian polities. Clearly there was something else that prevented the emergence of this seafaring tradition.

Therefore, I wouldn't be too hasty in jumping to conclusions about the civilizational importance of the north star. I don't doubt its importance but I think you're making a greater inference than can be sustained.
 
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Lutherf

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(I'm back to college. Taking Astronomy.)

We were just discussing the role of stars in navigation - how, in order to understand where you are in relation to the greater whole (the rest of the earth / the universe), you benefit from having a fixed-point to compare and measure your movement to/against.

Thus: the North Star, a fixed point, became a reliable point of navigation.

This allowed people who could see the North Star to navigate the globe (land and sea), using the North Star as a reference.

However, the Southern Hemisphere has no fixed point (cannot see the North Star, the only genuinely fixed point in the sky to refer to). Ergo - there is no history of global navigation in the Southern Hemisphere. Not by land, not by sea. Nothing significant. At most, Southern Hemisphere cultures navigated place-to-place (mountain to mountain, sea to sea, river to river, island to island) but were unable to go further.

-- I just thought it was interesting. A few months ago someone here posted about the reputation of the North being 'great' and the South being 'not so great' . . . This lack of a southernmost navigation point might play into why people from the Northern Hemisphere have had an advantage. It's in the stars. However, in our modern racially-charged climate this is critically studied as a matter of 'because white people'. However, the only benefit 'white people' (and not to forget Russians, Asians and others as well, not just 'whites European descendants') had was the North Star as a guide point.

Every great civilization to be seen as a power fixture in various points in History have had a strong grasp of circumnavigation via skypoint. The northern cultures that did not study the night sky and make use of it as a tool did not thrive.

You don't need the North Star to know where north is. Since the sun rises in the east you've got your Cardinal directions pretty easy. The major problem in navigation is knowing your latitude. North and south are easy. How far north or south is a lot more difficult.
 

celticwar17

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True, but also consider that the vast majority of the worlds population does, and historically has, lived in the northern hemisphere. Virtually all of Asia, Meso-America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, India, etc lie within the Northern Hemisphere. It is, after-all, where the majority of the habitable land mass of the planet is. Consequently, should it really be that surprising that this is where most civilizations, and accordingly most seafaring and navigational traditions emerged? Similarly, we never saw a sea-faring tradition emerge among the Atlantic, Aztec, Mayan, or Pacific coast Indians.

This seems especially significant since both the Maya and Aztecs (not to mention their precursors) reached a high level of technological and societal sophistication, whereas few civilizations in the southern hemisphere in isolation from the rest of the world reached similar levels of development. The only ones which come to mind are 'Great Zimbabwe', the Inca Empire, and a few fragmentary Bantu or Austrolasian polities.

Therefore, I wouldn't be too hasty in jumping to conclusions about the civilizational importance of the north star. I don't doubt its importance but I think you're making a greater inference than can be sustained.

Uhhhm... I think it is quite clear actually, that the North star had little to nothing to do with it.

Their was sea fairing traditions in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico... Christopher Columbus encountered them himself. They even helped them navigate to other islands. The entire Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia was booming with sea-faring trade. Languages like Tagalog(The language of the Philippines) Has a distinct Sanskrit background(Ancient Indian).
You know the people of Madagascar? They actually have Polynesian Ancestry xD They Actually made it to Madagascar before the Africans did. Since, Madagascar has had African and Arab immigrants, but the fist were the Austronesians.

Why no sea faring traditions on The North American coast? Was there a point to? There aren't any significant landmasses along the West coast to really trade with. The Aztec and Mayans could also EASILY determine north lol. If they could predict the moons position 2,000 years in the future and determine a very accurate length of a year... they could determine North. . And Actually There has been evidence that the pacific islanders did in fact trade with south Americans. As there were chicken bones found in South America dated before the Europeans, And Chicken bones did not come from the Americas, but from Asia. They did a DNA analysis and found that the chickens genetically match chickens found in the Pacific islands.(I saw this example on Wikipedia so...I thought it was interesting anyway)
 

Aunt Spiker

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You don't need the North Star to know where north is. Since the sun rises in the east you've got your Cardinal directions pretty easy. The major problem in navigation is knowing your latitude. North and south are easy. How far north or south is a lot more difficult.

You're only referring to the north as in 'the north is that way' - navigation relies on much mroe than a general sense of direction.
 

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Forget exactly where I saw this, some documentary on TV is all I can say at the moment, but....

Exploration in ancient history was a byproduct of migration, and you only migrate within those areas that can support life.
Too far north, or too far south, and you have to deal with short growing seasons, so east and west were easier.
Plate tectonics determines where mountain ranges developed, and those mountain ranges were major barriers to migration.
Direction of ranges are mostly north/south in western hemisphere.
Also once people found a sweet spot, where temperatures were pleasant and food plentiful, they tended to stay, slowing migration.
 
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