Timeline of maritime migration and exploration


This timeline is an incomplete list of significant events of human migration and exploration by sea. This timeline does not include migration and exploration over land, including migration across land that has subsequently submerged beneath the sea, such as the initial settlement of Great Britain and Ireland.

Maritime migration and exploration


Year Event
~128,000 BCE Archaic humans from North Africa migrate to the Mediterranean island of Crete.[1][2][3][4]
~53,000 BCE Modern humans from Southeast Asia migrate to Sahul (modern Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania).[5][6][7][8][9][10]
~36,000 BCE People from East Asia inhabit the Japanese islands of Honshu and Kyushu.[11][12][13][14][15][16]
~33,000 BCE People from Southeast Asia migrate to the Maluku Islands, the Talaud Islands, and Palawan.[6]
~30,000 BCE People from eastern Siberia may have migrated into the Americas.[17]
~20,500 BCE People from eastern Siberia begin migrating to Beringia between Asia and the Americas by land and sea.[18][19]
~18,000 BCE People inhabit the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.
~14,000 BCE Small groups of seafaring Beringians begin migrating along the Pacific Coast of the Americas.[19][18]
~13,000 BCE People from Honshu inhabit the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
~9000 BCE People from Sardinia inhabit the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
~8800 BCE People inhabit the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
~8000 BCE People from South America inhabit Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.
~6500 BCE People inhabit the Mediterranean island of Crete.
~6000 BCE People inhabit the Mediterranean island of Sicily.
~5900 BCE People from Sicily inhabit the Mediterranean island of Malta.
~4500 BCE People from South America inhabit the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Cuba, and Jamaica.
~4500 BCE Early Paleo-Inuit people migrate from northeastern Siberia across frozen seas to the island of Greenland.
~4500 BCE People from China migrate to the island of Taiwan. They will mix with earlier inhabitants who had arrived from China when a land bridge existed.
~2300 BCE Trade ships from the Indus Valley begin sailing to Mesopotamia.[20]
~2,200 BCE Seafaring people from Taiwan migrate to the Batanes Archipelago and northern Luzon.[21] They later inhabit the rest of the Philippines and mix with earlier inhabitants from who arrived by land bridges.
~1,500 BCE Seafaring people from the Philippines migrate to the Mariana Islands.[21]
1500-300 BCE Phoenicians sailed, traded, and settled around most of the Mediterranean Sea three millennia ago. Phoenicians sailed through the Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar) and explored the Atlantic Coast of Iberia and North Africa.
~600 BCE Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II commissioned a Phoenician ship that sailed from the Red Sea, around Africa, to the mouth of the Nile River in three years, in a questionable legend reported by Greek historian Herodotus.[22]
~500 BCE Carthaginian Hanno the Navigator explores the Atlantic Coast of Africa.
~500 BCE Paleo-Inuit people migrate across frozen seas to the North American Arctic.
~325 BCE Greek geographer Pytheas of Massalia from Provence explores the British Isles and the North Sea.
~200 Chinese envoys sail through the Strait of Malacca to Kanchipuram in India.
~420 People from the Sunda Islands of Southeast Asia inhabit the African island of Madagascar.[23]
674 Chinese explorer Daxi Hongtong reaches Aden in Yemen.
~750 Monks from the islands of Dál Riata settle on the North Atlantic island of Iceland.
~750 Ships from Sunda Islands of Southeast Asia round the Cape of Good Hope and reach Ghana in Africa.[24]
793 Norse Vikings raid the Lindisfarne Priory, off the coast of the island of Great Britain.
870 Norwegian Náttfari settles on the North Atlantic island of Iceland.
978 Icelander Snæbjörn galti Hólmsteinsson sails to the island of Greenland and unsuccessfully attempts to settle the island.
982 Exiled from Iceland for three years, Norwegian Erik Thorvaldsson (Erik the Red) explores the island of Greenland. Erik leads the Icelandic settlement of Greenland in 985.
~1001 Iceland-born Greenlander Leif Erikson, son of Erik Thorvaldsson, establishes a settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows on the island of Newfoundland and explores nearby lands in continental North America.
~1010 Norsemen abandon the island of Newfoundland and North America.
~1025 Polynesians settle in the Society Islands of the Pacific Ocean.
~1100 Polynesians settle in the Marquesas Islands of the Pacific Ocean.
~1100 Polynesians settle on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) of the Pacific Ocean.
~1219 Polynesians settle in the Hawaiian Islands of the Pacific Ocean.
~1250 The Thule people of the Arctic Coast of Alaska inhabit the Arctic islands of North America and Greenland.
1258 Japanese sailors land on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu.
1270 Japanese sailors carrying sugar cane land on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
~1320 Polynesians settle in the Pacific islands of New Zealand.
~1350 The Inuit people of the Alaskan Arctic inhabit the Arctic islands of North America and Greenland.
1403 The Yongle Emperor (Zhu Di) orders Grand Director Ma He to construct a Foreign Expeditionary Armada to explore lands of the Western Ocean (Indian Ocean) and exert Chinese hegemony. The emperor honors Ma He with the name Zheng He.
1405 Zheng He departs from Nanjing with 27,800 men on 255 ships for a voyage of two years. The fleet visits Champa, Java, Malacca, Aru, Semudera, Lambri, Sri Lanka, Quilon, and Calicut.
1407 Zheng He departs from Nanjing with 247 ships for a second voyage of two years.
1409 Zheng He departs from Nanjing with 27,000 men for a third voyage of two years.
1413 Zheng He departs from Nanjing for a fourth voyage of two years. The fleet ventures as far west as the island of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
1417 Zheng He departs from Nanjing for a fifth voyage of two years. The fleet ventures as far west as Hormuz, Yemen, Somalia, and Kenya.
1421 Zheng He departs from Nanjing for a sixth voyage of 18 months.
1431 At the direction of the new Xuande Emperor (Zhu Zhanji), Zheng He departs from Nanjing for a seventh voyage of two years.
1434 Portuguese captain Gil Eanes sailing for Prince Henry the Navigator (Infante Don Henrique of Portugal) rounds Cape Bojador in Western Sahara. This voyage marks the start of the Portuguese exploration and exploitation of Africa.
1436 The new Zhengtong Emperor (Zhu Qizhen) bans the construction of sea-going imperial vessels.
~1450 Norsemen abandon Greenland.
1460 Portuguese navigators António de Noli and Diogo Gomes, sailing for Prince Henry the Navigator, discover the islands of Cabo Verde.
1473 Portuguese navigator Lopes Gonçalves becomes the first European to sail across the Equator and reaches Cape Saint Catherine in Gabon.
1482 King John II of Portugal orders navigator Diogo Cão to explore the Atlantic Coast of Africa. Cão sails up the Congo River to Shark Point and then sails south to Cape Santa Maria in Angola.
1485 King John II of Portugal orders navigator Diogo Cão to return to Africa. Cão sails up the Congo River to Matadi and then sails south to Cape Cross in Namibia.
1488 King John II of Portugal orders navigator Bartolomeu Dias to search for a possible route to India. Dias rounds the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
1492 Genoan Christopher Columbus (Cristoffa Corombo) leads an expedition of three ships for Queen Isabella I of Castile, seeking a short westward sea route to China. Columbus sails west across the Atlantic Ocean and lands on the Caribbean island of San Salvador on 12 October 1492. Columbus explores the Caribbean in the belief that China lies a short distance west. Columbus establishes a fort at La Navidad on the island of Hispaniola, the first European settlement in the Americas. Columbus will make three more voyages to the Caribbean in an effort to reach China.
1493 Queen Isabella I of Castile directs Christopher Columbus to lead a second expedition of 17 ships and 1200 men to colonize the Caribbean. Columbus finds La Navidad destroyed and establishes a new settlement at La Isabela farther east on Hispaniola. The colonists will enslave native Arawak people.
1497 King Henry VII of England commissions Venetian navigator John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) to search for a route to China. Cabot lands on the island of Newfoundland, the first European to explore the island since the departure of the Vikings four centuries earlier.
1497 King John II of Portugal orders navigator Vasco da Gama to lead an expedition of four ships and 170 men to seek a sea route to India. Da Gama rounds the Cape of Good Hope and sails across the Indian Ocean, landing at Kappadu in India on 20 May 1498.
1498 On his third voyage to the Caribbean, Christopher Columbus lands on the Paria Peninsula of Venezuela, thus becoming the first European to reach South America, which he thinks may be the Garden of Eden.
1499 Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci sailing for the Catholic Monarchs of Spain reaches the mouth of the Amazon River.
1500 King Manuel I of Portugal dispatches Major-Captain Pedro Álvares Cabral to lead an expedition of 13 ships and 1500 men to India. Cabral sails to Cabo Verde and then south to Brazil, which he claims for his king. Cabral sails south along the coast of Brazil and then east around the Cape of Good Hope and across the Indian Ocean to Calicut in India.
1501 King Manuel I of Portugal dispatches Spanish captain Alonso de Ojeda and Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci to explore the extent of newly claimed Brazil. Ojeda follows the Brazilian coast south to Guanabara Bay. The voyage convinces Vespucci that the land could not be the East Indies but rather a new continent. In 1507 German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller will name the new continent America in Vespucci's honor.
1502 On his fourth voyage to the Caribbean, Christopher Columbus lands at Puerto Castilla in Honduras, thus becoming the first European to reach Central America.
1501 King Manuel I of Portugal dispatches cousins Afonso and Francisco de Albuquerque to lead an expedition of six ships to India. They battle the Zamorin of Calicut and ally with the King of Cochin who grants them the right to build fort Immanuel in 1503, the first European settlement in India.
1505 Portuguese-born Spanish explorer Diego Columbus, the elder son of Christopher Columbus, brings African slaves to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. This marks the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade.
1508 Ferdinand II of Aragon, Regent of Castile commissions Juan Ponce de León to settle the island of San Juan Bautista (Puerto Rico). Ponce de León founds Caparra, the first European settlement on the island.
1508 King Henry VII of England commissions Sebastian Cabot (Sebastiano Caboto), the son of John Cabot, to search for the Northwest Passage to China. Cabot explores the Atlantic Coast of North America from Ungava Bay to Chesapeake Bay.
1509 King Manuel I of Portugal dispatches Portuguese fidalgo Diogo Lopes de Sequeira to the wealthy Sultanate of Malacca on the Malay Peninsula. Portuguese general Afonso de Albuquerque will seize Malacca in 1511.
1510 Spanish conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa establishes Santa María la Antigua del Darién in Colombia, the first European settlement in the continental Americas.
1511 Diego Columbus directs Spanish conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar to settle the island of Cuba. Cuéllar establishes Baracoa, the first European settlement on the island.
1513 Juan Ponce de León, the Spanish governor of San Juan Bautista (Puerto Rico), explores Florida which he assumes is another island. He becomes the first European to explore continental North America since the departure of the Vikings four centuries earlier.
1513 Portuguese explorer Jorge Álvares becomes the first European to reach China by sea.
1513 Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the Spanish governor of Veragua (Panama), crosses the Isthmus of Panama to the shore of a sea he names the South Sea (Pacific Ocean). Balboa claims all lands draining into the sea for Spain.
1515 Spanish Franciscan friars establish a mission at Cumaná, the first European settlement in Venezuela.
1516 Portuguese-born Spanish explorer Juan Díaz de Solís reaches Río de la Plata between Uruguay and Argentina.
1518 Spanish conquistador Juan de Grijalva explores the east coast of Yucatan and Mexico.
1519 Spanish Captain-General Hernán Cortés establishes the first European settlement in Mexico at Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz on 18 May 1519. Cortés then marches to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.
1519 On 15 August 1519, Spanish governor Pedro Arias Dávila establishes Panamá (Panama City) in Panama, the first European settlement in Central America.
1520 King Charles I of Spain directs Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan (Fernão de Magalhães) to lead an expedition of five ships and 270 men to seek a westward sea route to the East Indies. Magellan discovers the Strait of Magellan and encounters a sea he names the Peaceful Sea (Pacific Ocean). Magellan becomes the first explorer to cross the Pacific Ocean, which proves far vaster than he imagined and requires an arduous four-month voyage.
1521 Ferdinand Magellan is killed on the island of Mactan in the Philippines, but the expedition's two remaining ships attempt to return to Spain.
1522 On 6 September 1522, the carrack Victoria arrives in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain with the 18 survivors of the Magellan Expedition, having circumnavigated the Earth.
1526 Portuguese traders bring African slaves to Brazil. This marks the beginning of the Portuguese slave trade.
1526 Spanish conquistador Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón sails with six ships from Santo Domingo on Hispaniola to establish a colony north of the Bahama Islands. Ayllón selects the mouth of the Sapelo River in Georgia and establishes the colony of San Miguel de Gualdape on 29 September 1526. The colony fails in a few months and the survivors return to Hispaniola.
1527 Venetian Captain-General Sebastian Cabot sailing for the Spanish Council of the Indies builds the Sancti Spiritu fort on the Carcarañá River, the first European settlement in Argentina.
1532 Portuguese fidalgo Martim Afonso de Sousa establishes Porto dos Escravos in Brazil, the first Portuguese settlement in the Americas.
1533 Spanish Marquesado Don Hernán Cortés orders Diego de Becerra to sail from Colima in Mexico in search of the mythical Strait of Anián and the Islands of California. Mutineers murder Becerra and land at the Bay of La Paz in Baja California Sur.
1539 Spanish Marquesado Don Hernán Cortés orders Francisco de Ulloa to lead an expedition of three ships to search for the mythical Strait of Anián. Ulloa sails from Acapulco north along the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Ulloa circumnavigates and names the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) and sails around the Baja California Peninsula to Isla de Cedros, proving that the Sea of Cortez is a gulf, not a strait, and that Baja California is a peninsula. (Spanish nautical secrecy allows the notion of an Island of Cali Fornia to persist for more than two centuries.)
1542 Antonio de Mendoza, the first Viceroy of New Spain, directs Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo and Ruy López de Villalobos to lead explorations of the Pacific Ocean from Barra de Navidad in Jalisco.

On 27 June 1542, Cabrillo sails northwest with three ships to explore the Pacific Coast of Mexico and the Californias. Cabrillo reaches the Russian River before turning back. Cabrillo dies in the Channel Islands on the return voyage.

On 1 November 1542, López de Villalobos sails west with six galleons and 400 men across the Pacific Ocean to the East Indies. The expedition explores the Philippine Islands and the eastern Islands of Indonesia, but is captured by Portuguese authorities in 1544. López de Villalobos dies on 4 April 1544, in a Portuguese prison cell on the Island of Amboyna. The Portuguese send the 117 survivors of the expedition to Lisbon.

1559 Spanish conquistador Tristán de Luna y Arellano sails with 11 ships from San Juan de Ulua in Veracruz to establishes the colony of Santa Maria de Ochuse at Pensacola Bay in Florida. The colony was largely destroyed by a hurricane after only six weeks, although the survivors are not rescued until 1561.
1560 King Philip II of Spain orders Captain-General Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, to lead the first Armada de la Carrera (Treasure Fleet) from Mexico and the Caribbean back to Spain.
1562 English slave trader John Hawkins brings African slaves to Hispaniola. This marks the beginning of the English slave trade.
1564 French explorer René Goulaine de Laudonnière leads an expedition of three ships to found the colony of Fort de la Caroline on the May River in Florida.
1564 Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi leads an expedition of five ships and 500 soldiers from Barra de Navidad in Jalisco to the Philippines. López de Legazpi lands in the Mariana Islands and proceeds to the Philippines. In 1565, López de Legazpi founds the colony of Villa del Santisimo Nombre de Jesús on the Island of Cebu, the first Spanish settlement in the East Indies.
1565 King Philip II of Spain orders Captain-General Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, to drive the French out of Florida. Aviles sails for Florida and on 8 September 1564 establishes the settlement of San Agustín (St. Augustine) on the Matanzas River. The city persists today. Avilés then attacks Fort de la Caroline and murders most of its inhabitants.
1605 French explorer Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons establishes a colony on Saint Croix Island in Maine. The following year, the colony moves to Port-Royal in Nova Scotia to become the first European settlement in Canada since the departure of the Vikings five centuries earlier.
1606 Dutch captain Willem Janszoon sails around the Cape of Good Hope to the Indonesian island of Java. He then sails to New Guinea and Australia, becoming the first European to explore those lands.
1607 In 1606, King James I of England charters the Virginia Company of London to establish colonies in North America. The following year the company establishes Jamestown in Virginia.
1616 Dutch explorer Willem Cornelisz Schouten sails around Cape Horn and west across the Pacific Ocean, visiting numerous islands before reaching the Indonesian island of Java.
1619 In late August 1619, the Dutch privateer ship The White Lion arrives at Point Comfort, Virginia with 20 slaves from Ndongo in present-day Angola. The Africans are sold to Governor George Yeardley and the Cape Merchant of the Colony of Virginia. The White Lion and the Treasurer had captured the Africans from the Portuguese slave ship São João Bautista bound for Veracruz. The White Lion and the Treasurer were commissioned by English Puritan nobleman Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick. This marks the beginning of the American slave trade.
1624 France brings African slaves to settle Guiana in South America. This marks the beginning of the French slave trade.
1642 Dutch explorer Abel Tasman explores Tasmania, New Zealand, and the Fiji Islands.
1648 Russian explorer Semyon Ivanovich Dezhnev rounds Cape Dezhnev in the Bering Strait.
1671 The Danish West India Company enters the Atlantic slave trade.
1675 English merchant Anthony de la Roché is blown off course and seeks refuge in a bay of the South Atlantic island of South Georgia.
1690 English captain John Strong lands in the Falkland Islands of the Atlantic Ocean.
1722 Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen lands on the Pacific island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
1732 Russian geodesist Mikhail Spiridonovich Gvozdev sails from Petropavlovsk on Kamchatka to Cape Dezhnev, the easternmost point of continental Eurasia, thence east across the Bering Strait to Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost point of the continental Americas. Gvozdev proceeds to chart the northwest coast of Alaska.
1767 British explorer Samuel Wallis lands on Tahiti in the Society Islands of the Pacific Ocean.
1770 British explorer James Cook explores and circumnavigates the Pacific islands of New Zealand. Cook lands at Botany Bay in Australia and explores the Pacific Coast of the continent.
1775 British explorer James Cook explores the South Atlantic island of South Georgia and claims it for the United Kingdom.
1778 British explorer James Cook explores the Hawaiian Islands and the Northwestern Coast of North America from Alta California to the Chukchi Sea.
1820 Russian, British, and American ships first sight Antarctica.
1869 The Suez Canal between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea opens.
1880 Finnish-born Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld sails through the Northeast Passage and completes the first circumnavigation of Eurasia by way of the Suez Canal on the SS Vega.
1906 Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen becomes the first to sail through the Northwest Passage on the Gjøa.
1914 The Panama Canal between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean opens.
1956 The United States Navy opens Naval Air Facility McMurdo on McMurdo Sound in Antarctica.
1957 American explorer Finn Ronne, under the United States Navy Reserve, discovers Berkner Island off the coast of Antarctica.
1958 The American nuclear submarine USS Nautilus becomes the first ship to reach the North Pole and the first ship to cross the Arctic Ocean.
1960 Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard and American oceanographer Don Walsh descend to the bottom of the Challenger Deep (-10,911 meters) in the Mariana Trench of the Pacific Ocean in the bathyscaphe Trieste on 23 January 1960.

See also


References


References are included in the linked articles.

  1. Team Led by PC Faculty Member Finds Evidence of Earliest Seafaring by Human Ancestors, Providence College.
  2. Strasser F. Thomas et al. (2010) Stone Age seafaring in the Mediterranean, Hesperia (The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens), vol. 79, pp. 145–190.
  3. Wilford, J.N., On Crete, New Evidence of Very Ancient Mariners The New York Times, 15 Feb 2010.
  4. Bruce Bower, Hominids Went Out of Africa on Rafts Wired Science, January 8, 2010.
  5. Hiscock, Peter (2015). "Chapter 7: The human colonization of Australia". In Bellwood, Peter (ed.). The Global Prehistory of Human Migration. ISBN 9781118970591.
  6. Sémah, François; Sémah, Anne-Marie (2015). "Chapter 6: Pleistocene migrations in the Southeast Asian archipelagos". In Bellwood, Peter (ed.). The Global Prehistory of Human Migration. ISBN 9781118970591.
  7. Davidson & Wahlquist 2017.
  8. Wright 2017.
  9. Bird et al. 2002, p. 1074.
  10. Jett, Stephen C. (2017). Ancient Ocean Crossings: Reconsidering the Case for Contacts with the Pre-Columbian Americas. University of Alabama Press. pp. 168–171. ISBN 9780817319397.
  11. Fujita, Masaki (2016). "Advanced maritime adaptation in the western Pacific coastal region extends back to 35,000–30,000 years before present". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113 (40): 11184–11189. doi:10.1073/pnas.1607857113. PMC 5056111. PMID 27638208.
  12. Sanz, 157–159.
  13. Tsutsumi Takashi (January 18, 2012). "MIS3 edge-ground axes and the arrival of the first Homo sapiens in the Japanese archipelago". Quaternary International. 248: 70–78. Bibcode:2012QuInt.248...70T. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.01.030.
  14. Shinoda, Ken-ichi; Adachi, Noboru (2017). "Ancient DNA Analysis of Palaeolithic Ryukyu Islanders" (PDF). Terra Australis. Canberra, Australia: ANU Press. 45: 51–59. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  15. Matsu'ura, Shuji (1999). "A Chronological Review of Pleistocene Human Remains from the Japanese Archipelago" (PDF). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Origins of the Japanese: 181–197. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  16. Nakagawa, Ryohei (2010). "Pleistocene human remains from Shiraho-Saonetabaru Cave on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, Japan, and their radiocarbon dating". Anthropological Science. The Anthropological Society of Nippon. 118 (3). doi:10.1537/ase.091214. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  17. Romey, Kristin (2020-07-22). "Surprise cave discoveries may double the time people lived in the Americas". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2020-07-22.
  18. Southerton, Simon G. (2015). "Chapter 9: The human colonization of the Americas: human genetics". In Bellwood, Peter (ed.). The Global Prehistory of Human Migration. ISBN 9781118970591.
  19. Melzer, David J. (2015). "Chapter 8: The human colonization of the Americas: archaeology". In Bellwood, Peter (ed.). The Global Prehistory of Human Migration. ISBN 9781118970591.
  20. Gosch & Stearns, 12
  21. Bellwood, Peter (2014). The Global Prehistory of Human Migration. p. 213.
  22. See Necho II#Phoenician expedition
  23. Dewar, Robert E.; Wright, Henry T. (1993). "The culture history of Madagascar". Journal of World Prehistory. 7 (4): 417–466. doi:10.1007/BF00997802. hdl:2027.42/45256. S2CID 21753825.
  24. Dick-Read, Robert (2005). The Phantom Voyagers: Evidence of Indonesian Settlement in Africa in Ancient Times. Thurlton.