The history of exploration is the history of human fascination with the world. Almost from the beginning of humanity, people have felt impelled to venture into unknown regions, displaying incredible endurance and bravery in the face of harsh environments and hostile inhabitants. From the
daring Polynesian navigators who, more than 3000 years ago, first began to advance across the vast Pacific Ocean in dug-out canoes with only the stars to guide them, to the Victorian missionaries and adventurers who opened the way for European colonial expansion, to the scientists of our own time,
with their sophisticated navigational and observational technology, explorers have tested their imaginations against an uncharted world.
The Oxford Atlas of Exploration is a splendid and authoritative history of this endeavor. With a highly readable and informative text, supported by nearly 100 specially drawn maps and 300 vivid photographs and illustrations, it traces the journeys of the discoverers of our world, recording their
achievements and their varied motives: desire for land, wealth, and fame; missionary zeal; political and cultural empire-building; scientific inquiry; and sheer, irresistible, curiosity.
The book begins with the earliest recorded journeys of exploration in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and ranges from the time of the Phoenicians' voyages in the North Atlantic and Egyptians' travels in the Arabian Sea. We follow Cortes in Mexico, La Salle on the Mississippi, Darwin in the Galapagos
Islands, James Cook in the Antarctic, and many others. In each section, the main routes of explorers are depicted on graphic relief maps, while photographs, paintings and engravingsbrilliantly portray the great variety of terrain through which these courageous men and women passed. Also included
are maps from different historical periods which reveal cartographers' growing knowledge of the shape of the world's continents and oceans. The final section of the atlas contains fascinating biographical details of many of the great explorers, geographers, and cartographers whose achievements have
supplied our sense of the shape and texture of the earth. It is followed by a time chart which summarizes the history of exploration over 5000 years.
From the High Andes to the ocean depths, from the Sahara desert to the polar ice caps, The Oxford Atlas of Exploration allows us to rediscover all the extraordinary ways humans have come to know their world. Opening its pages is taking the first step on a grand adventure.