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ATLANTIS & the Atlantic Ocean

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dhill757
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« Reply #255 on: December 27, 2008, 10:40:54 pm »

Catastrophe

Attempts to link the vanishing of Atlantis to the rise of the sea level during the end of the last glaciation have always met with serious objections. It is believed that the sea level had been rising fairly gradually and with different speed for several thousand years. Critics asserted that the flooding caused by this rising sea level could not correspond to the catastrophic character of what Plato described- the vanishing of Atlantis "in a single dreadful day and night".

1. The phrase "in a single dreadful day and night" can hardly be taken out of the context of the description of the catastrophe and interpreted as a precise description of the duration of the catastrophe. Generally, quoting it out of context as an argument in the debate on the nature of the catastrophe which brought about the vanishing of Atlantis is not quite legitimate, to say the least. What Plato says about the vanishing of Atlantis reads verbatim as follows:

"At a later time [after beginning of war between Atlanteans and Athenians] there were earthquakes and floods of extraordinary violence, and in a single dreadful day and night all your fighting men were swallowed up by the earth, and the island of Atlantis was similarly swallowed up by the sea and vanished... "(Tim. 25c-d)

We see that besides the already quoted phrase about one day and one night, there is the mention of the earthquakes and floods accompanying the catastrophe in the plural, which in itself suggests a longer duration of the catastrophe process than just one day and night. Besides, if we take into account the character and style of the narration as a whole, the phrase "in a single dreadful day and night" can be viewed simply as a figure of speech, a poetic hyperbole.

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« Reply #256 on: December 27, 2008, 10:41:13 pm »

2. Now let us try to clarify where the idea of the gradual character of the change of the sea level originates from. Certainly, the curves on the graphs of the sea level changes are fairly quiet, but looking at them, we should not forget to what extent they generalize the existing point measurements and datings, of which there are, as a rule, not more than three per every thousand years, so that if in the past there had been rather dramatic changes of the sea level, they simply cannot be reflected in such data.

It is also necessary to take into account that for the period under consideration the error of the radiocarbon dating method, even according to the most optimistic estimates, can amount to 400-500 years, as a result of which the process which lasted half a thousand years can be depicted as a momentary event, and vice versa.

Besides, it takes some time for the relief features characteristic of the coastal line (coastal terraces etc.) to emerge. It means that for periods when the sea level changed relatively fast, there should not exist distinctive ancient coastal features, since there simply was not enough time for them to take shape. Thus, the absolutely natural lack of data is bound to lead to a distorted understanding of the dynamics of the process, due to the filling of the gaps by averaging the data available for the periods of more fair changes.

3. The next question to be answered after we considered how it was possible that dramatic rises of the sea level in the past could have remained unnoticed by modern science, is the question if such rises were possible in the first place, and whether they actually took place in the past.

In 1988 the paleoclimatologist Hartmut Heinrich published the data obtained as a result of studying sediments from the Dreizack sea mounts in the eastern North Atlantic, which evidences that there had been at least six massive iceberg discharges into the ocean from the Laurentian ice sheet during the last Ice Age (10). Given that these events known as "Heinrich events" involved great armadas of icebergs, amounting to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of cubic kilometers, they could not but cause a substantial rise of the sea level.

Climatologist Wallace Broecker, speaking of the possibility of massive iceberg discharges into the ocean having triggered global climate changes, points to the correlation between the "Heinrich events" and cycles of abrupt jumps in temperature for several thousand years during the last Ice Age (the so-called Dansgaard-Oeschgercycles), discovered by Bond (3). This correlation consists in that during the most intense phase of a package of several progressing colder cycles the ice armadas were launched and that each Heinrich event was followed by a prominent warming which initiated a new package of cycles. The last of such cold events was the so-called Younger Dryas, and its abrupt end ushered in the Holocene, a period of stable warm climate which has now lasted for about 11,500 calendar years (10,000 14C-years).

At present there exist many hypotheses on the causes of the beginning and the end of Ice Ages and glaciations; various factors are suggested as possible causes, a survey of which is not seen as one of the tasks of this paper. There is no ultimate clarity on the issue so far, although in analyzing the graphs of the changes of temperatures for various regions it can be seen that the warming of the climate that marked the end of the last glaciation was more pronounced, abrupt and stable than all the previous ones.

In 1995 a group of researchers from University of Copenhagen published the interpretation of dated Central Greenland ice core isotope profile as a climatic temperature record spanning the last 113,000 years (11). It was noted that the latter temperature minimum (11,500 years ago) ended with an extremely abrupt 20 deg C warming within a century, while from 10,000 to 8,000 years BP, during the post-glacial climatic optimum, the temperatures were up to 3-4 deg C higher than now.

This dramatic rise in temperatures can be traced in most climate reconstructions on the basis of data obtained by using many various methods. It should be borne in mind that there is no linear correlation between the rise in global mean temperatures and the rise of the mean sea level: apparently, there must have been a certain time lag between the melting of the glaciers, the rise of the sea level and the rise of the mean temperatures. (Let us recall an experiment from the school course of physics, when a vessel with ice is being heated, but the temperature of the water into which ice turns at melting, only starts rising after all the ice has melted.), and as regards paleobotanic and paleozoological data about the climate, there must have been a certain time lag between the rise in the temperatures and the change in the areas where certain types of plants grow or certain types of animals live.

The discovery of "Heinrich events" is indicative of how little is known so far about the last Ice Age. It is difficult to imagine now that someone will be so bold as to assert with certainty that at the end of Pleistocene and the beginning of Holocene there could not have been events comparable in magnitude to or surpassing "Heinrich events", which could have caused a dramatic enough rising of the sea level.

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« Reply #257 on: December 27, 2008, 10:41:33 pm »

4. Up to now we had been discussing the possibility of a fairly fast glacio-eustatic rise of the mean sea level. But in modelling the dynamics of the changes in the relative sea level for a specific region, besides the glacio-eustatic fluctuations of theme an sea level connected with the changing volume of the ice sheets, it is also necessary to take into consideration the changes in the absolute level of the earth surface, determined by the glacio-isostatic effects.

As we have already said in section "WHERE",at the time when the Scandinavian ice sheet existed, the earth crust beneath it was isostatically depressed under the weight of its mass, while at a distance from it, the crust was uplifted as a result of the isostatic balancing. If the area of the Celtic Shelf was situated in the zone of this uplift, so that the relative sea level there was lower than the mean sea level by the amount of this isostatic elevation, then, as the Scandinavian ice sheet receded and diminished, and the compensatory processes of the uplifting of the earth crust in the area of the ice sheet itself were taking place, and simultaneously its subsidence in the area which was uplifted, the speed of the rise in the relative sea level in the area of the Celtic Shelf constituted the sum of the speed of the glacio-eustatic rise in the mean sea level and the speed of the isostatic subsidence of the surface of the earth crust in this area.

The time scale of such isostatic processes is not quite clear. Their speed depends on a variety of factors, such as the toughness of the earth crust, the size of the blocks that are being balanced, the depth at which the isostatic balancing takes place, and the estimate of this speed depends to a great extent on the choice of this or that model of the structure of the Earth. Most researchers agree that in the wake of the disappearance of most of the ice sheets, the speed of the compensatory isostatic uplift and subsidence was substantially higher than can be observed now that the disappearance of the glacio-isostatic pressure of the ice sheets of the last glaciation has practically been compensated in full (23, 33).

If we assume that at the end of the last glaciation there had been a massive discharge of ice from the Scandinavian ice sheet similar to the "Heinrich events", then the decrease of the glacio-isostatic pressure could have been leap wise, and the compensatory isostatic processes could have developed with the maximum possible speed.

5. Another argument to back the thesis that none other than the rising of the sea level was the catastrophe that Plato described, is that the relief of the plain in point, in the west of Europe, was of such character, that the rising of the sea level by one meter could often have meant the retreat of the coastline by kilometers. I am sure that even if the full submerging of the territory lasted several years, the eye-witnesses (and victims), who were on a flat plain, must have perceived it as a very fast sinking of all the land they could see, from horizon to horizon (See again map of the Celtic Shelf).

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« Reply #258 on: December 27, 2008, 10:42:15 pm »

Little Sole Bank

To sum up briefly all the above-said, the hypothesis can be formulated as follows:

The narrative of Atlantis contained in the dialogues "Timaeus" and "Critias" is neither the fruit of Plato's imagination, nor a reminiscence of the history of one of the Mediterranean cultures of the third-second millennium B.C. In all probability, it contains fairly accurate information of the cultures which existed in the late Pleistocene, at least, during the last glaciation, in the coastal areas of the Atlantic coast of Europe and the Mediterranean, whose climate was fairly mild, as well as of the events that took place at the end of Pleistocene and the beginning of Holocene, which brought about the demise of these cultures.

Plato's geographical descriptions of Atlantis correlate with sufficient precision with the actual paleogeographic situation at the time he specified: in the Atlantic Ocean, outside the Mediterranean Sea, there must have really existed land, where there was a plain adjoining the coast of approximately the same size as described by Plato. Most of the geographical details mentioned by Plato can be correlated with this land, which existed in the west of Europe, virtually without a stretch; most importantly, it was at the time Plato specified that it was submerged as a result of the rise of the sea level, which could well be fairly fast.

The contradictions between the very possibility of the existence of relatively highly developed civilizations at the time specified by Plato, and the existing ideas on the history of mankind, seem to be exaggerated, given the fact that most of the coastal areas, whose climate was conducive to the development of such civilizations and where their artifacts could be found, was submerged, and the extent to which the sea floor at appropriate depths has been explored by underwater archaeology, is indescribably low.

The main paradox of Plato's Atlantis seems to be that now that the Earth sciences have at long last developed more or less reliable ideas of the processes that were taking place when Atlantis is supposed to have existed, and it has eventually become possible to examine and interpret in their context the information about Atlantis that has reached us, such an interpretation has become virtually impossible because of an unbelievable multitude of stereotypes, which owe their existence to the fact that people who read, translated and interpreted the narrative of Atlantis for over two and a half thousand years, did not have the modern knowledge of those processes.

The hypothesis we are putting forward, like any other hypothesis, is only a concept, and needs to be corroborated by facts. The verification of this hypothesis can be effected by organizing an expedition for underwater exploration on the Celtic Shelf, in particular, in the Little Sole Bank area. The research is to include: a detailed survey of the bottom, using a side-scan sonar or a multi-beam echo-sounder, a profile recorder, satellite and hydro-acoustic navigation systems with a view to building a high resolution solid digital model of the bottom, on which objects could be singled out that might be the remains of ancient buildings. In case such objects are identified, they can be explored directly, with a remote operated underwater vehicle. If they really prove to be the remains of man-made stone structures, then a line can be drawn at the more than two thousand-year-old debate on Atlantis, and new horizons will open for a overhaul of the existing ideas of the history of mankind.

 References

1. http://www.imh.ru/atlan4_e.htm

2. http://www.atlantisquest.com/Writings.html

http://www.xenophilia.com/zb0011.htm
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« Reply #259 on: December 27, 2008, 10:48:41 pm »

Discovery of the Azores

There are accounts that Henry sent his able seaman and knight
Goncalo Velho Cabral, in 1431, with the orders "to sail towards the
setting sun until he came to an island."17 Others say the islands had
been found accidentally by Portuguese sailors returning from a
voyage along the African coast or the Madeiras,18 but this is not
possible because the prevailing winds and ocean currents would not
have allowed it.19 Henry and his school of navigators knew there
were islands located a few hundred miles off the Portuguese coast
because they were shown on a Catalan map. In 1431, Cabral found a
series of volcanic rocks protruding out from under the water which
he named "formigas" or ants. He was just 25 miles from the nearest
Azorean island at the time which apparently was not visable to his
crew or him. He returned to Henry and was sent out immediately
the next year to reexplore the area.20

On August 15, 1432, Cabral found Santa Maria, the easternmost
island of the Azorean archipelago. It was the feast day of the
Assumption of Our Blessed Mother, or Santa Maria, and consequently
named for her.21 The island was lush with forests, streams, and
birdlife.22 Apparently, there were many birds in flight, thought to be
goshawks, and hence, the islands got the Portuguese name "acor" or
hawk. However, there have never been goshawks there according to
ornithologists. Many believe the birds seen were the Azorean
buzzards.23

It is thought too that maybe the name for the islands came from this
statement written by Martin Behaim, the maker of the Nuremburg
globe of 1492: "All birds found in the islands by the first settlers
were so tame that they came to the hand like hawks."24 Another
theory is that the word "raca" or "raka," meaning bird of prey in
Arabic, was translated to the Portugese acor. Raca appeared in an
Arab manuscript designating an island, or islands, in the same
location as the Azores.25

A letter written by Alfonso V, King of Portugal, dated July 2, 1439 is
the first known document with a reference to the Azores. Its content
reveals that there were seven islands and that Henry was given the
right to settle them.26 The next known document is a Majorcan map
of the same year which had seven islands and the date of discovery
was recorded as 1432.27 There have been differing versions
concerning the year-date of the discovery. It appears, after some
analysis by scholars, that 1432 is the correct date.28 Unfortunately,
there were no written accounts of the voyage by the participants.29
In fact, there is little information on the discoveries of the other
eight islands because of the same reason.

Sao Miguel was sighted followed next by Terceira, which means the
"third." Then the central group of islands were found which were
Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico, and Faial. And finally the western two
islands of Corvo and Flores were sighted in 1452 which concluded
the discovery of the archipelago.30 There is no evidence that
humankind had ever been on the islands.31 But there are mysteries.
There is the mystery of an equestrian statue on Corvo, and also the
mystery of the Phoenician or Carthagenian coins said to have found
there as well.32

Corvo along with Flores are the two westernmost islands of the
archipelago, and hence, the last inch of European soil. It was here in
the early 1500's, that Damiao de Goes, under the employment of King
Dom Manoel of Portugal, wrote of a statue of a man on horseback
pointing to the west which was clinging to a rocky ledge. The king
asked for a drawing of it, and after seeing the drawing, he sent
someone to bring it back. As the story goes, it was shattered in a
storm en route, but the king received the parts. There too was an
inscription in the rock below the statue, and an impression was taken
of it. But neither the shattered parts of the statue, nor the impression
of the inscription were ever found.33
Was it a hoax? Scholars are still
unsure.

Some have speculated that the statue was really just one of many
rock formations seen on the island and nothing more.34 Others feel it
did exist and could have been evidence of the lost continent of
Atlantis, or of another settlement of ancient peoples.
Coins too were
found on Corvo, and their images were published in a journal of the
Society of Gothenberg. They were considered to be of Carthagenian or
Cyrenean origin by the society.35 A twentieth century Portuguese
scholar, made a serious effort to locate the coins. He went to the
convent to which they were first supposedly taken. He also visited
museums where he thought information could be found. But his
investigation turned up nothing.36


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


http://wwwlibrary.csustan.edu/bsantos/azores.html
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« Reply #260 on: December 27, 2008, 11:03:50 pm »

Azores Islands


by Robert L. Santos
California State University, Stanislaus
Librarian/Archivist


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Early Accounts of Land Beyond


With the sea at his toes and an inquisitive and adventuring mind, the
Portuguese natural orientation is towards the west. The 17th century
Portuguese writer, Antonio Vieira wrote, "God gave the Portuguese a
small country as a cradle but all the world as their grave."1

There were mythical lands across sea as suggested by ancient
writing. Theopompue in 4th century B.C. wrote of a large western
land in the Atlantic. Pliny and Diodorus wrote of a large continent
beyond to the west. Solon of Greece in 600 B.C. visited Egypt and was
told of an island named Atlantis which Plato wrote about in his
Dialogues of 400 BC. His account tells of a powerful land outside the
columns of Hercules which was larger than Libya and Asia combined.
It was a land that was the way to other lands, but it sank during a
time of earthquakes and floods. The water was so muddy from its
sinking that it was impassable.2

But there were islands located in the Atlantic that were steeped in
myth and seen on early maps. They had names like the Fortunate
Isles, Antillia, Brazil, and California.3 There were stories, such as Irish
St. Brendan of Clonfert in 545 sailing from Kerry and finding islands
which may have been the Madeiras.4 On a Catalan chart these
mysterious Atlantic islands were identified as the Isles of St.
Brendan and lie only a few hundred miles off the Strait of Gilbraltar.5
Mohammad al Edrisi was credited at one time of having located a
series of islands which might have been the Cape Verdes, the
Maderias, the Canaries, or possibly the Azores. This was in the 12th
century.6 

A Medici map of 1351 contained seven islands off the Portuguese
coast which were arranged in groups of three. There was the
southern group or the Goat Islands (Cabreras); there was the middle
group or the Wind or Dove Islands (De Ventura Sive de Columbis);
and there was the western island or the Brazil Island (De Brazil). On a
Catalan map of 1375, there were three Islands with the names of
Corvo, Flores, and Sao Jorge. It was thought that maybe the Genoese
may have discovered the Azores at that time and gave those names.7
These speculative sightings indicate that there was some ocean
exploration occurring, or at least, there was interest in what lay
beyond confines of continental Europe.

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« Reply #261 on: December 27, 2008, 11:04:13 pm »

Prince Henry the Navigator and the Age of Exploration

Portuguese Prince Infante Dom Henrique (1394-1460), or Henry the
Navigator, was exactly what the literature proclaimed him to be, the
founder of modern navigation.  He was singularly instrumental in
opening up the rest of the world to the Europeans. For the Azoreans,
he was their founding father as we shall see. Henry studied the sea,
weather, ships, geography and trade routes. He talked to navigators,
and sea captains. He brought to his navigation school, which he
founded at Sagres in 1416, cosmographers, mathematicians,
cartographers, and learned men of all kinds. He collected maps,
charts, books, and ephemera that would educate him and his circle of
adventurers.8

The motive for this industry was to find a sea route to link up with
the mythological Prester John, thereby encircling the Moslem world
and with armies driving them from northern Africa and the Holy
Land. To do this Henry needed money which he could garner through
trade once he found a sea route to India. He was the leader of the
religious-military organization, the Holy Order of Christ. Its program
of exploration, discovery, and settlement was for the purpose of
conquering the Muslims.9 

Henry's first move was to defeat the Muslims at Ceuta (Morocco) in
order to free the African coast for exploration. He, his brothers,
and his father, King John I of Portugal, did this in 1415.10 Henry 
experimented with ships and navigation during this venture, which
led to designing of the caravel, a long and slender ship (by
comparison) with lateen sails, that would be used by his Portuguese
explorers on their long voyages.11 Also the navigational instruments,
such as the astrolabe, quadrant, and cross-staff, were developed to
fix a ship's position. His captains kept logbooks of their voyages to
document their experience for the knowledge of others. They also
used flat maps to record longitude and latitude thereby simplifying
cartography methods.12

It took great courage to navigate the unexplored seas. Positions had
to be known to find one's way back. There were winds, weather
changes, and sea currents to master. A small wooden ship could be
broken at sea. Supplies of food and water could run out during a
voyage. Disease could strike. Superstition and fear would attack. It
took only the stout-hearted to head out onto the unknown waters on
a voyage of exploration.13
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« Reply #262 on: December 27, 2008, 11:04:36 pm »

Next, Henry colonized the Madeira Islands which were accidentally
found by Joao Goncalves Zarco in 1419.14 They were uninhabited and
were to be used as a point of departure for further exploration and
in particular, for this study, the discovery and settlement of the
Azores.15 Camoes wrote in The Lusiads, "Thus far, O Portuguese, it is
granted to you to glimpse into the future and to know the exploits
that await your stout-hearted compatriots on the ocean that, thanks
to you is now no longer unknown."16 
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« Reply #263 on: December 27, 2008, 11:05:02 pm »

Discovery of the Azores

There are accounts that Henry sent his able seaman and knight
Goncalo Velho Cabral, in 1431, with the orders "to sail towards the
setting sun until he came to an island."17 Others say the islands had
been found accidentally by Portuguese sailors returning from a
voyage along the African coast or the Madeiras,18 but this is not
possible because the prevailing winds and ocean currents would not
have allowed it.19 Henry and his school of navigators knew there
were islands located a few hundred miles off the Portuguese coast
because they were shown on a Catalan map. In 1431, Cabral found a
series of volcanic rocks protruding out from under the water which
he named "formigas" or ants. He was just 25 miles from the nearest
Azorean island at the time which apparently was not visable to his
crew or him.  He returned to Henry and was sent out immediately
the next year to reexplore the area.20

On August 15, 1432, Cabral found Santa Maria, the easternmost
island of the Azorean archipelago. It was the feast day of the
Assumption of Our Blessed Mother, or Santa Maria, and consequently
named for her.21 The island was lush with forests, streams, and
birdlife.22 Apparently, there were many birds in flight, thought to be
goshawks, and hence, the islands got the Portuguese name "acor" or
hawk. However, there have never been goshawks there according to
ornithologists. Many believe the birds seen were the Azorean
buzzards.23

It is thought too that maybe the name for the islands came from this
statement written by Martin Behaim, the maker of the  Nuremburg
globe of 1492: "All birds found in the islands by the first settlers
were so tame that they came to the hand like hawks."24 Another
theory is that the word "raca" or "raka," meaning bird of prey in
Arabic, was translated to the Portugese acor. Raca appeared in an
Arab manuscript designating an island, or islands, in the same
location as the Azores.25 

A letter written by Alfonso V, King of Portugal, dated July 2, 1439 is
the first known document with a reference to the Azores. Its content
reveals that there were seven islands and that Henry was given the
right to settle them.26 The next known document is a Majorcan map
of the same year which had seven islands and the date of discovery
was recorded as 1432.27 There have been differing versions
concerning the year-date of the discovery. It appears, after some
analysis by scholars, that 1432 is the correct date.28  Unfortunately,
there were no written accounts of the voyage by the participants.29
In fact, there is little information on the discoveries of the other
eight islands because of the same reason.

Sao Miguel was sighted followed next by Terceira, which means the
"third." Then the central group of islands were found which were
Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico, and Faial. And finally the western two
islands of Corvo and Flores were sighted in 1452 which concluded
the discovery of the archipelago.30 There is no evidence that
humankind had ever been on the islands.31 But there are mysteries.
There is the mystery of an equestrian statue on Corvo, and also the
mystery of the Phoenician or Carthagenian coins said to have found
there as well.32
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« Reply #264 on: December 27, 2008, 11:05:18 pm »

Corvo along with Flores are the two westernmost islands of the
archipelago, and hence, the last inch of European soil. It was here in
the early 1500's, that Damiao de Goes, under the employment of King
Dom Manoel of Portugal, wrote of a statue of a man on horseback
pointing to the west which was clinging to a rocky ledge. The king
asked for a drawing of it, and after seeing the drawing, he sent
someone to bring it back. As the story goes, it was shattered in a
storm en route, but the king received the parts. There too was an
inscription in the rock below the statue, and an impression was taken
of it. But neither the shattered parts of the statue, nor the impression
of the inscription were ever found.33 Was it a hoax? Scholars are still
unsure.

Some have speculated that the statue was really just one of many
rock formations seen on the island and nothing more.34 Others feel it
did exist and could have been evidence of the lost continent of
Atlantis, or of another settlement of ancient peoples. Coins too were
found on Corvo, and their images were published in a journal of the
Society of Gothenberg. They were considered to be of Carthagenian or
Cyrenean origin by the society.35 A twentieth century Portuguese
scholar, made a serious effort to locate the coins. He went to the
convent to which they were first supposedly taken. He also visited
museums where he thought information could be found. But his
investigation turned up nothing.36 
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« Reply #265 on: December 27, 2008, 11:05:39 pm »

Settlers and Settlement

At some point, following the discovery of Santa Maria, sheep were let
loose on the island before settlement actually took place.37 This was
done to supply the future settlers with food because there were no
animals on the island. Settlement didn't take place right away,
however. There was not much interest among the Portuguese people
in an isolated island world hundreds of miles from civilization.38 But
patiently Cabral gathered resources and settlers for the next three
years (1433-1436) and sailed to establish colonies on Santa Maria
first and then later on Sao Miguel.39 

Brush had to be cleared and rocks removed for the planting of
crops.40 Grain, grape vines, sugar cane, and other plants suitable for
settler use and of commercial value, were planted. Domesticated
animals were brought, such as, cattle, sheep, goats, and hogs. Houses
were built and villages established.41 

The first settlers were a mixed group of people from the Portuguese
provinces of Algarve and Minho.42 Also, Madeirans, Moorish
prisoners, black slaves,43 French, Italians, Scots, English, and
Flemings were among the early settlers.44 There were petty
criminals, Spanish clergy, Jews, soldiers, government officials,
European merchants and sugar cane growers.45 

The purpose of the Azorean colony was to service the mother
country with commodities and tribute. It was to be a station for
Portuguese ships to be  resupplied and repaired. The islands too
were to produce crops for trade. In its peak trade years, there would
be more than one hundred ships anchored at the Bay of Angra.46
Slaves had to be removed from the islands and sent to Brazil and the
Caribbean because there was concern about a slave insurrection.47

The islands were colonized under the Holy Order of Christ,48
and the settlers were to be Christians. There were many languages,
but after awhile Portuguese became the standard language
of communication.49 Because of the isolated nature of the islands, and
the harshness of the land, and at times, climate, all settlers,
regardless of their background, had to work together to survive. This
gave the people a sense of equality and togetherness. As a
consequence, more settlers were given the right to purchase land.50
There were some slaves on the islands, and there were lingering
concerns about a slave revolt which no settler wanted. Soon the
slaves were sent to Brazil and to the Caribbean.51 

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« Reply #266 on: December 27, 2008, 11:06:01 pm »

The Flemings

People from Flanders settled in the Azores beginning in 1450. These
Flemish settlers played an important role in the creation of the
Azorean culture. By 1490, there were 2,000 Flemings living in the
islands of Terceira, Pico, Faial, Sao Jorge, and Flores.52 Because there
was such a large Flemish settlement, the Azores became known as
the Flemish Islands or the Isles of Flanders.53   

Henry was responsible for this settlement. His sister, Isabel, was
married to Duke Philip of Burgundy of which Flanders was a part.
There was a revolt against Philip's rule and disease and hunger
became rampant. Isabel appealed to Henry to allow some of the
unruly Flemings to settle in the Azores. He granted this and supplied
them with the necessary transportation and goods.54

First group of Flemings was led by Willem van de Hagen, later known
by his Portuguese name of Guilherme da Silveira. They settled in
Terceira, and the Flemish nobleman, Jacome de Bruges, was placed in
charge. The next contingents went to the islands of Faial, Flores, Sao
Jorge,55 and Pico.56 Joos van Huerter founded the city of Horta on
Faial57 where evidence of the Flemish people and culture still exists
today. Faial was in fact called the Flemish Island and the valley
behind the city still has the name, the Valley of the Flemings or O
Valle dos Flamengo.58   

But the Flemish language disappeared before long, and the Flemish
settlers changed their names to Portuguese forms. For example, van
der Hagen became Silveira, and Huerter became Dutra or Utra.59
Flemish physical traits of light hair, light complexion, and blue eyes
can still be seen in the features of many Azoreans. Flemish oxcarts
and windmills are still seen on the islands.60 The Flemish beghards
and beguines (lay-religious group) brought the Festival of the Holy
Spirit and their distinctive cloaks and hoods to the islands.61 There
are many religious statuary, paintings, and furniture found in
Azorean churches and museums which show the Flemish influence.62

An interesting sidelight is the speculation that some Flemish people
may have reached the North Carolina coast inadvertently during this
migratory activity. In North Carolina, there was a group of people,
calling themselves the Melungeons, who had light colored skin and
identified themselves as Portuguese. These were not Native
Americans. It is thought, that maybe one of the ships bound for the
Azores, coming from Flanders, may have overshot the islands and
found its way to the Carolina coast, but evidence is lacking.63
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« Reply #267 on: December 27, 2008, 11:06:18 pm »

Captain-Donatary System

The captain-donatary system of government was a conception of
Prince Henry. He tried it first at Madeira and then next in the Azores.
The system was duplicated throughout the Portuguese colonies and
also used by the Spanish in their empire. It simply was a system by
which absentee landowners could control their property and also
receive payments from the peasant tenants on crop production.64
Alfonso V, King of Portugal gave Henry the privilege of settling seven
of the Azores Islands. Alfonso awarded the same privilege to his
uncle, Alfonso Duke of Braganca, to settle Corvo, and to Dona Maria
de Vilhena to settle the island of Flores.65

Henry made Cabral "captain" (governor) of Santa Maria and Sao
Miguel. Van der Hagen became captain of Flores and Corvo, and
Graciosa was given to Pedro de Correia, who was Christopher
Columbus' brother-in-law. Van Huerta was designated captain-
donatary of Faial, Pico, and Sao Jorge, while de Bruges was given the
same title for Terceira.66 The difference between a "captain-
donatary" and a "captain" was the former was able to pass along his
title as inheritance while the latter could not.67 

The captains and captains-donatary were like governors who had full
control over their domain. They held the office of judge. They could
make land grants. They monopolized the gristmills, public baking
ovens, and salt sales. Henry and his successors got a 10% tax from
these monopolies, and his captains got 10% of his 10%.68 The land
they granted was subdivided for tenant farming. This way the lands
were farmed by peasants who had no ownership and had to pay high
rent and tax. This system lasted for centuries and was one key
reason for the high Azorean emigration. There simply was no way
the peasants could advance up the socio-economic ladder.69

Through this system the King of Portugal had control over his lands
and had administrators in place to manage and to collect royal
tribute. Shortly, the land grant owners became wealthy and wanted
more control over government. As a result, municipal districts were
established with town councils where appropriate. This was a
pseudo-democratic system which allowed input into local
governmental policy. But in reality, the wealthy and the absentee
landowners still controlled the islands.70 

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« Reply #268 on: December 27, 2008, 11:06:45 pm »

In the Middle of the Atlantic

The Azores Islands lie about 700 miles off the Portuguese coast; 750
miles from Africa;71 1,100 miles from Newfoundland; and 2,200
miles from the east coast of the United States. It is nearly midway
between Europe and the North America.72 The archipelago stretches
about 375 miles from end to end and are found in three separate
groups. They are volcanic in composition.73   

There are three theories on the genesis of the islands: (1) they could
be the last vestages of a large continent such as Atlantis; (2) they
could be the ragged edges of two continental plates pulling apart; or,
(3) they could be molten lava seeping from a large crack in the ocean
floor, cooled by ocean water, and rising to the ocean surface.74 The
latter seems to be the most probable as determined by the experts.
The islands are essentially the tips of a large undersea mountain
range, referred to as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge which stretches the
entire length of the Atlantic Ocean, from north to south. It is made up
of nearly100 volcanoes, some active and some dormant, with 19
hovering over 3,280 feet above sea level. Pico Alto, on the island of
Pico, is the  highest volcano at 7,711 feet.75 Because of these
volcanoes, there is virtually no flatland on the islands.76

Table 1 below shows the varying sizes and heights of the islands. Sao
Miguel is the largest in size with Corvo being the smallest having
only 4 square miles of surface. Sao Miguel, Sao Jorge, and Pico are the
longest islands with an average length of about 35 miles. Most of the
islands are generally from 7 to 10 miles wide and have mountainous
topography. 
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« Reply #269 on: December 27, 2008, 11:07:01 pm »

               Table 1
      Size and Elevation of the Azores Islands

Island         Area      Length        Width      % Below        % Above
      (sq mi)             (mi)       (mi)      1,000 Feet  1,000 Feet
_____________________________________________________________
Santa Maria   37.5      10.4      6.2      86.4      13.6
Sao Miguel   288.0      39.9      9.9      52.7      47.3
Terceira   162.9      18.0           11.2      55.6      44.4
Graciosa    23.9      7.8      4.7      94.5          5.7
Sao Jorge    95.0      34.1      4.2      30.1      69.9
Faial       66.8      13.1      8.7      53.5      46.5
Pico      172.2      33.2      9.2      41.2      58.8
Flores       52.2      10.5      7.7      32.5      67.5
Corvo        4.0      4.0      2.5      45.1      54.9
Total           808.1                        
_____________________________________________________
Source: James H. Guill, A History of the Azores Islands
 & Jerry R. Williams, And Yet They Come.77
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