Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
On 28 November 1520, Ferdinand Magellan and his depleted fleet sailed around the tip of South America. After a tumultuous 38-day attempt to pass through the straits that now bear his name, Magellan gazed out into the vast sea and called it Mare Pacifico or ‘calm sea’ which was appropriate (although misleading) considering what they had just endured. The passage through the Straits was notable for a number of reasons, not the least because it was the first time Europeans had sailed to the other side of the Americas through a westerly route, ultimately leading to what would become the first successful circumnavigation of the globe. But why did he encounter such benign weather conditions when leaving the Straits and entering the Pacific? Most who followed him either through the Straits or via Cape Horn encountered inclement weather off the southern coast of Chile. Second, why did he travel considerably north of the equator — when his goal, the Moluccas, was known by him to lie along the equator — and cross the doldrums in a crippled ship with a starving crew? Third, why did he only see two uninhabited islands after crossing such a vast distance of ocean? Here I investigate these questions using computer simulations coupled with archaeological research and
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:
Scott M. Fitzpatrick and Richard Callaghan
2008 Magellan’s Crossing of the Pacific: Using Computer Simulations to Examine how Oceanographic Conditions Influenced One of the World’s Greatest Voyages. Journal of Pacific History 48(2):145-165.
Alvaro Montenegro, Richard Callaghan, and Scott M. Fitzpatrick
2016 Using Seafaring Simulations and “Shortest Hop” Trajectories to Model the Prehistoric Colonization of Remote Oceania. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(45):12685–12690.