Magellan's Age


The circumnavigation of the world by Magellan's fleet of five ships in 1519-1522, proved experientially the Earth was a globe, changing forever the way intelligent people viewed the world as an oblate sphere.

Ferdinand Magellan and Sebastian Elcano.

See BBC story

The crew, upon returning to Cape Verde discovered they had gained a day, despite their careful record keeping.

"When one of the survivors of the voyage reached the the Cape Verde islands three years later he was convinced the date was Wednesday, 9 July 1522. The sailors who went ashore for food and fresh water asked what day it was. 'They were answered in Portuguese that it was Thursday, at which they were much amazed, for to us it was Wednesday, and we knew not how we had fallen into this error,' wrote Antonio Pigafetta . . . . for we had always made our voyage westward and had returned to the same place of departure as the sun, wherefore the long voyage had brought the gain of 24 hours , as is clearly seen."

Tim Radford, The Address Book. pages, 125-126.


For the power of a fleet of ships as a tool complex & web of technical devices:

Arnold Pacey, the 1500s-1800s

Technology in World Civilization

Pacey on Meaning | Pursell | Technology defined | Dimensions of Technology | Chronology of tools