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News: Plato's Atlantis: Fact, Fiction or Prophecy?
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Author Topic: PILLARS OF HERCULES, SEA OF DARKNESS  (Read 3126 times)
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« on: August 19, 2007, 05:49:14 pm »

The voyages of the mugharrirun and Khashkhash were private undertakings, apparently motivated by curiosity and bravado. The mugharrirun were "ordi­nary people"; the companions of Khashkhash were simply "young men of Cordoba." This is probably why we know so little about them. Medieval historians focused their attention on the ruler and his court, and to a certain extent on the "urban elite." The doings of private citizens, particularly of the humbler classes, are only incidentally mentioned by Arab historians of the Middle Ages - or indeed, by their Christian coun­terparts. We know as much as we do about the efforts of Prince Henry the Navigator to find the sea-route to the Indies because these expeditions were sponsored by the Crown, and the same is true of the four voyages of Columbus. Documents, logs and maps were placed in royal archives and were available to the historians of the time, whereas knowledge of the mugharrirun and Khashkhash has come down to us only because of the chance interest of al-Idrisi and al-Mas'udi. It is probable, however, that they entered sailors' lore along the Atlantic seaboard and joined the tales of other fabulous islands to the west - the Antilles, Bra­zil, St. Brendan's Isle, the Green Isle.

These imaginary islands were marked on 14th-century charts, along with others. The Antilles and Brazil, for so long legendary, continue today as the names of real places. Men were still seeking St. Bren­dan's Isle as late as the 18th century; Ilha Verde, the Green Isle, did not finally disappear from mariner's charts until the middle of the 19th century. Through­out the Middle Ages, stories of islands to the west kept interest in the far reaches of the Atlantic alive, and when real islands began to be discovered in the 14th century, the legends took on new life. After all, if the Islands of the Blessed really existed, why shouldn't the Antilles? In the 15th century, as the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries and the Cape Verde Islands were gradually colonized and brought under sugar cultivation, the search became more intense. Genoese bankers were willing to finance sugar production; the search for free land - unencumbered by tenants who enjoyed hereditary rights and paid fixed rents in infla­tionary times - was seen as an escape from economic depression.
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