Section 1 – Pre-Columbian Explorers

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You are There

You look upon the ocean, not knowing what lies ahead. Your hygiene is terrible, and your food supplies are running low. You have been lost, thanks to your captian, Leif Ericson, and have been sailing for days. Then, you see land. Land! You sail there and set up a colony. You have found North America!

Many people had discovered the Americas a long time before Columbus. Because humanity, in one way or another, started over somewhere around Africa. People had to have gotten to America because Columbus met Natives there. One explorer that found North America before Columbus, (more that 450 years before,) was a Viking named Leif Ericson. Born in 970, he sailed West, trying to spread Christianity, and stumbled upon North America. However, he met Inuits in America, so he obviously wasn’t the first person there.

Another theory about how people got to America, is the land bridge theory. Thousands of years ago, during an ice age, water levels receeded low enough to form a passage from Russia to Alaska. People migrated across it, and populated the Americas. Marco Polo was ultimately responsible for Columbus finding America. Marco Polo was a Venetian explorer who explored part of Asia in the early 1400’s. The spices and riches he found urged other explorers to follow him, but some thought the world was round, and this encouraged people to try and find an all water route to Asia. This led to the discovery of America!

Phoenicians started the Carthage Empire and became great rivals with Rome. Aristotle, a philosopher of the time, wrote about how Phoenecian sailors stumbled across a large land mass. They then wanted to keep it a secret from the Romans so the subject wasn’t mentioned often. Obivously, it is part of history, so the secret got out. In 1313, 400 Mali empire ships discovered a land across the ocean to the West after being dragged off course by ocean currents. Eric the Red(950 AD- 1003AD) was a Norwegian who sailed to Greenland and settled there.

Some unnamed Portugese sailors traveled and found new routes around Africa to Asia. They may have gone around South America!

There quite a few Pre-Columbian explorers who did dramatic things for American history. Prince Henry encouraged sea captains to sail South along the coast of West Africa. This made people sail want to further, and branch out more.Vasco Da Gama sailed up the coast of East Africa and across the Indian Ocean to India. The Portuguese pushed on to the East Indies, the islands of Southeast Asia, and the source of valuable spices.

Mesoamericans rest on attributes of the Olemec culture leading to beliefs that they were there before columbus. In the late 1400’s Portuguese sailors pioneered new routes around Africa to Asia. This brought them to America. Willem Blaeu made the most accurate maps of that time and had to sail to do so.




1. Recall when Leif Ericson born, and the things he did.

2. Determine why Prince Henry is listed here as a Pre Columbian explorer.

3. Generate an image showing one way people got to the Americas BEFORE boats were introduced, and write it down.

4. Summarize how Rome, (and its adversaries,) impacted AMERICAN history.

5. List THREE ways spices led to the European discovery of America.

6. Infer what William Blaeu’s intentions were. Use examples from the text an your own ideas to answer the question completely.(Extended response)

             Brittney Rencher

             Karley Polivka

            Michael Devitt

              John James

              Nick Boch

              Danny Briggs 



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