What technology was used during the age of exploration?

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Here we start all about what technology was used during the age of exploration? International networks grew significantly in the fifteenth century. The growth of exploration and trade across the world’s oceans was fundamentally changed by the Atlantic crossing and the creation of the Columbian Exchange.

What technology was used during the age of exploration

Over the following several centuries, these journeys became more frequent and simpler. But how did this expansion occur? What caused these pricey, risky, lengthy ocean voyages to become commonplace? I told you: technology!

The technologies these traders and explorers utilized were based on advances that spread throughout Afro-Eurasia and were consolidated in Europe during this time.

What technology was used during the age of exploration?

The astrolabe, magnetic compass, caravel, sextant, and Mercator’s projection were the five major scientific discoveries of the Age of Exploration.

What was the Age of Exploration?

The Age of Exploration, often called the Age of Discovery, was when Europeans extensively explored the world. Large numbers of European ships searched for new trade routes and partners throughout this historical period, primarily between the 15th and early 17th century, to help feed the expanding economic might of numerous governments on the continent.

As a result of this extension of the world, Europeans met new people and learned about new civilizations. They also surveyed numerous previously unexplored regions of the globe. Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Alvares Cabral, John Cabot, Juan Ponce de León, and Ferdinand Magellan are only an infrequent of the most well-known explorers from that era.

Major advancements of the Age of Exploration:


When the night sky was clear and the sailors were north of the equator, they could rely on the North Star, sometimes known as Polaris, to guide them in the right direction. All they needed was a reliable method for calculating the star’s height above the horizon.

major advancements

The quadrant was one of the instruments they used to gauge the height of the North Star, or any other star, even the sun. Knowing your latitude and continuing sailing in a straight line to your goal depended on knowing this height. It is also possible to gauge the height of mountains or structures using quadrants. They were useful for artillery aiming as well.


The kamal was one of the more basic navigational instruments, measuring altitude to determine latitude (the north or south position of a ship).

After a cruise, this device aided seafarers in returning home. Arab sailors invented the kamal, a piece of wood with a rope attached to it. The navigator would bind the rope with knots.

The navigator would hold up the kamal at their home port and tie a knot that would allow him to see the horizon at the knot and the North Star at the top of the piece of wood while holding the chord in his teeth. To determine whether they should sail north or south to be at the same latitude when returning home, they might hold the kamal similarly.

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Many European explorers, including Columbus and Magellan, used the astrolabe, one of the most significant navigational aids. Despite having roots in the Roman Empire, it was nevertheless crucial in the eighteenth century since it permitted sailors to do various tasks.

Among these were determining the ship’s current latitude, the day or night, and the location of stars or planets in the sky. The astrolabe resembled a stack of discs, including fine lettering and lines to aid measurement.

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Cross Staff and Back Staff:

The cross-staff and the back staff are two more instruments used to determine latitude by examining altitude. The cross-staff was typically three feet long and had four moveable cross parts of various sizes and a cross piece known as a transom. Kamal’s style influenced it.

The cross-staff was raised such that the bottom edge of the transom was parallel to the horizon, and the top edge of the transom was aligned with the North Star or the sun.

The navigator could then be certain that they were at the correct latitude. One drawback was that navigators were obliged to look directly at the sun while utilizing the cross-staff during the day.

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The back staff, also known as the Davis Quadrant, was a revolutionary navigational aid created by Captain John Davis in the seventeenth century. Unlike the cross-staff, which relied on the sun’s shadow, this tool did not put your eyes at risk of burning.

The navigator would stand facing the sun, hold the back staff over their shoulder, and simultaneously look at the horizon and the sun’s shadow.

Magnetic Compass:

Knowing where you were and ensuring your ship was heading in the right direction were made possible thanks to the magnetic compass. Using a magnetic needle that consistently points north, you may accurately determine your location and your intended course.

China produced the first magnetic compasses. They arrived in Europe as a result of commerce with Asia. In the European versions, a card housed in a wooden box would have a magnetic needle connected to it that pointed north.

Traverse Board:

The traverse board was created because sailors needed to keep track of the ship’s speed and direction as they navigated. A compass rose with thirty-two distinct points was mounted to the top of this wooden board. From the rose’s center, eight holes spread outward, one for each direction on the compass.

Every half-hour, sailors would use a compass to record the ship’s heading on a board, which could store four hours’ worth of information. There were four rows of holes below the compass rose, each row representing thirty minutes. However, these rows allowed the sailors to note the ship’s speed rather than its direction.

Ships: Caravel and Carrack:

In this age of exploration, sailors employed a variety of ships, including the caravel and the carrack. Prince Henry, the Navigator of Portugal, designed the caravel primarily for long-distance trading.

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It had two or three masts, and when it was closer to land, it shifted from using square sails on the open ocean to using triangular lateen sails. Caravels were incredibly quick because of their rounded bottom, which made them popular with pirates.

The carrack, a hybrid of Mediterranean and Northern European ship designs, was another significant ship type. The carrack had two sizable structures on top and a rounded stern.

The forecastle was in the front, and the aftcastle was in the back; these terms are sometimes shortened to “fo’c’s’le” and “aft.” They might have two to four masts and, depending on the size of the ship, which could weigh up to 2,000 tonnes, also utilized lateen and square sails.


Anyone looking to gain an advantage would want to be well-armed because long-distance trading was risky. Additionally, firearms could aid traders in engaging in a little piracy or obtaining their desired goods from nearby ports or ships.

The most heavily armed ships of the day possessed cannons that could fire various projectiles. The iron-made round shot was excellent for tearing into the hulls of opposing ships.

However, the ships’ sails and riggings could be destroyed by a chain shot, which featured two smaller balls joined by a chain, making it impossible for the ships to navigate away. Grapeshot and canister shots were some of the additional types of shots. Small metal balls were placed in various containers by either side to harm or kill the men on the opposite ship. The English established a strong navy partly because of their stronger ship cannon.

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These innovations enabled ships to traverse large distances while carrying goods more securely. They weren’t the first ocean technology, of course.

Polynesians had traversed the wide Pacific Ocean for ages using their technology, and trading along the coasts of continents was usual. But these new inventions swiftly expanded the frequency of trade and exploratory expeditions, which helped to alter the course of global history.

My Final Thoughts:

Here we conclude all about what technology was used during the age of exploration? This knowledge is crucial for navigating purposes, and at first only crude sand hourglass gadgets was employed. The use of mechanical clocks on ships increased throughout the Age of Discovery as they extended throughout society at the end of the middle Ages.

The Age of Exploration’s significant events might never have occurred without any of these outstanding technological advancements. Or maybe they only hastened the inevitable. We might never be able to be certain.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What advances in technology paved the way for European Exploration?

Three scientific breakthroughs aided European exploration: better maps, tools (such as an astrolabe), and ships (caravels).

What technologies led to the Age of Exploration, and where did they originate?

A spirit of exploration and creativity had been opened in Europe during the Renaissance, which took place during the 1400s and the 1500s. The compass, the astrolabe, and innovative ships like the caravel were a few inventions that assisted in opening the way for the Age of Exploration.

What were the three main tools of navigation that led to the Age of Exploration?

Lateen sails, the astrolabe, and the magnetic compass are three tools that are particularly significant during this period.

What were the sources of the technology used by the early European explorers?

Some of these innovations date back to Europe, while others, like the astrolabe, the magnetic compass, and the caravel map, were adapted from other cultures.

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