Early seafarers would have believed our smartphones were using black magic.

Interesting Engineering, By Chris Young


© 12 | A History of Finding Our Way: 15 Pre-Google Maps Navigation Tools


How did we ever survive without Google Maps and GPS? We did pretty well as it turns out. Though we are so reliant today on our smartphones to find our way around, humanity has created many intricately designed and ingenious tools for navigation over the years. 
Here are a few impressive tools and methods, dating as far back as the prehistoric times, that have been used throughout history.

1. Follow the clouds

As they had no modern-day tools and navigation was in its infancy, the first seafarers kept close to land. Keeping an eye on landmarks on the coast was the easiest way to make sure that they wouldn't go astray.
Primitive methods were developed over time via simple observation. Low-lying clouds, for example, tend to form over land and are a good indicator that you are approaching land.

2. Early star navigation

Though keeping an eye on land is a lot harder when it gets dark at nighttime, thankfully burning balls of gas thousands and millions of light-years away are great indicators to help us find our way.
Early sailors used stars to navigate at nighttime. Mariners used simple methods such as measuring the distance of a star from the horizon using their fingers at arm's length. Depending on the height the star was at, at a given time of the year, they would know approximately where they were. 

3. Hungry birds lead you to land

Though still relatively primitive, sailors continued to find innovative ways to find land when out at sea. As PBS points out, the Norsemen had to find a way to find land without using stars, as the stars are covered for months on end at high latitudes by cloudy weather.
This article was originally published by Interesting Engineering. 
Previous Post Next Post