Ever since humans have felt the primal pull of distant shores, the sea has been integral to the way we travel and do business. But navigation in an era before satellites, GPS technology, and constant radio communication, was difficult and often fraught with risk.
That's where the sky came in. Ancient explorers and traders first navigated based on the positions of the stars, aided by the oral reports of the sailors before them. By the late Middle Ages, as wayfinding technology improved, cartographers mapped the seas and coastlines, providing mariners with the ability to actually plot their routes and chart safe courses. At the onset of the Age of Exploration, in the early 16th century, both curious and financially-minded Europeans alike were rapidly pushing outward across the globe. These explorers, and the businessmen that followed, needed navigational guides, something to follow when they found themselves in strange territory thousands of miles from home.
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