10 Times Explorers May Have Discovered America Before Columbus Did It 0 18

By the time Christopher Columbus mis-navigated his way to the West Indies, the New World was already old news to many others. These are all the people who discovered America before Columbus made his much more famous voyage.

The Native Americans


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There are still many questions about where the Native Americans travelled from. Many believe that immigrants from Asia came to the Americas 40,000 to 13,000 years ago, though they may have come from two separate places. Either way, they are technically the first people to discover America. Upon finding it, they began to build communities and populate the land. But many, many others would come after them.

Egyptian Traders


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Ancient Egyptians may have traded with South American tribes around 1,000 B.C. Scientists can’t figure out any other explanation for the amount of tobacco and coca, found only in the Americas, discovered in Egyptian mummies. It is a proven fact that ancient Egyptians traded extensively with other civilizations.

Lehi The Prophet


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According to the Book of Mormon, an ancient prophet and his followers sailed to the Americas around 600 B.C. Lehi, the prophet, lived in Jerusalem when he was told by the Lord to leave and find the promised land. Lehi built a ship and set out on a voyage across the ocean. He landed in the Americas. The story was later recorded for the Book. DNA evidence proves that Native Americans do not originate from the Middle East, however, and there are no artifacts to verify this legend.

The Irish Navigator


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Saint Brendan the Navigator did a great deal of missionary work throughout Ireland, sailing all around the British Isles to spread Christianity. According to legend, he even sailed off across the ocean. He built a boat and took 18 to 150 men, depending on which account you read, in search of the Garden of Eden. He found a Paradise at the end of his journey and sailed all the way back to Ireland to tell tales of it. He was absent for seven years. The legend was passed down orally for many centuries before it was finally recorded on paper, and no evidence of Irish artifacts has been discovered in the Americas. Some say the story is merely allegory, and does not refer to an actual voyage at all, but many historians wonder if Brendan’s tall tales were really truth.

Leif Erikson


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Leif Erikson, Viking explorer, legitimately did discover the New World around 1000 AD. He discovered Novia Scotia, though he named it Vinland. Later, a settlement was built there. Newfoundland is home to the oldest European settlement in the Americas. More than 2,000 Viking artifacts have been discovered there that date to the days of Leif Erikson.

Prince Madoc


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Welsh lore tells of the voyage of Prince Madoc. One of the illegitimate sons of the king of Gwynedd, he sailed from the north Welsh coast in two ships. They were headed west, and legend says that they landed near present-day Alabama. He returned to Wales telling fantastic tales of the western land he found, and convinced others to join him on a second voyage. After he left in 1171, he was never seen in Wales again. There is some sketchy historic evidence to suggest that Madoc’s legend may be based on truth. Early American explorers told of the Mandans, a tribe of Indians with white skin who spoke a Welsh-like dialect. That tribe of Indians was decimated by smallpox in 1837, so there is no current evidence to support the Welsh legend.

Abu Bakr II


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In 1311, the emperor of Mali was Abu Bakr II. His kingdom encompassed most of West Africa and he had great wealth. But he gave it all up, and abdicated his throne, to take a great voyage to the west. He sailed away with upwards of 2,000 boats, according to legend, and never did return to Mali. Most of the legend was passed down orally, and so far no concrete evidence has been found to prove he landed in the Americas.

Polynesian Explorers


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All Polynesians are descended from the same seafaring people who sailed all over the Pacific. They built colonies on Easter Island, New Zealand, and Hawaii. They may have made it all the way to the western shores of America. DNA evidence shows that they made have found the Americas sometime between 500 and 700. Historians have doubted this possibility because the Polynesians used raft-like boats that are not prudent for long ocean voyages. </p

Henry Sinclair


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Henry Sinclair was Scotland’s Admiral of the Seas, and tasked with pacifying Shetland around 1390. He had 13 warships at his disposal when a fisherman showed up telling a story of an amazing land to the west. He’d been driven way off course by storms to discover it. Legend holds that Sinclair took his ships out past Greenland and discovered a “fertile land.” He came back to Scotland in 1399 and told stories of his journey. He planned to return, in fact, but was killed in battle in 1400. The documents supporting this legend are in question by historians, who say they may be forged. However, there was a tribe in Nova Scotia who told tales of a King who came from an island far away, only to stay for a year and sail away again. Sinclair’s grandson built the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, pictured, which has carvings that resemble corn and cactus plants. You can only find those in America.

Zheng He


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Zheng He was a famed Chinese explorer, leading voyages all over the Indian Ocean. He set out with 20,000 men and dozens of ships to the Atlantic, and definitely made it as far as Africa. He made at least seven voyages from 1405 to 1433. Zheng He was believed to be lost at sea in 1433. Some have theorized that Zheng He went all the way to America. There is a map, said to be Chinese in origin, that supports this theory. No other evidence of Zheng He in the Americas has ever been found.

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16 Of Italy’s Most Beautiful Beaches 0 11

While the Caribbean may first come to mind when thinking of an exotic vacation locale, the next time you’re in Western Europe, check out some of these amazing Italian seasides. If you can’t afford the plane ticket, then just back and enjoy some of these breathtaking shots from Italy’s most beautiful beaches.

Rabbit Beach


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White sands and crystal clear water lends this beach — located in Lampedusa, Islands of Sicily — to plenty of snorkeling and underwater exploration.

Capri


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This rocky, mountainous coastal island is a favorite vacation spot of the world’s rich and famous, located off the Sorrento peninsula in southern Italy. All of its beaches make for a picture-perfect vacation.

Cala Goritze


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Patrons of this beach in Banuei, Italy enjoy moderate temperatures and smaller crowds, as it’s a bit difficult to get to.

Lu Imposto Beach


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Clear waters, panoramic views of the sea and mountains and warm water make this beach in San Teodoro, Sardinia, Italy a popular tourist destination.

Bay of Silence


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Located in the Northwestern part of Italy in Sestri Levante Provincia di Genoa, this pristine fishing village offers plenty of historical sights and fun things to do during the day including boating and fishing.

Tropea Beach


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The town of Tropea, Italy, which is stuated in a stunning reef, is a famous bathing place and was a commercial port in Roman times, making it a vacation destination rich in history.

Cala Marilou


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Known to some as the most beautiful beach in Sardinia, Italy, Cala Marilou’s name derives from an ancient legend in which a fishermen named “Marilou” took refuge in the inlet after being robbed of his catch.

Spiaggia di Tuerredda


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Another stunning destination in Sardinia, this beach features crystal-clear, calm waters, making it a popular place for families with children.

Cala Rossa


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Located in Isola di Favignana, Sicily, Italy, this rocky beach may not be the best place for swimming, but it provides fantastic views and boating opportunities.

Spiaggia di San Vito lo Capo


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This Sicilian beach is perfect for swimmers and sunbathers alike, and gets very crowded in summer months.

Lido Beach


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Clean and quiet, Lido Beach in Lido di Venezia, Italy has been a popular destination since the 19th century.

Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro


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Featuring a gorgeous natural walking trail and a small cove for swimming, Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, Italy is truly nature unspoiled.

Manarola


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In this town known for wine-making and fishing, visitors enjoy not only a stunning beach but great opportunities for hiking and exploring.

Scala dei Turchi


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In Realmonte, Sicily, Italy is the “Stair of the Turks,” a rocky cliff off of the coast of Southern Italy that lies between two sandy beaches and is known for its characteristic white color.

Camolgi


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This small fishing village on the west side of the peninsula of Portofino features candy-colored homes and plenty of seaside restaurants and attractions for adults and kids alike.

Polignano A Mare


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Facing the Adriatic Sea, this coastal town overs incredible views with plenty of historic charm.

13 Secrets Of The Sistine Chapel 0 12

Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel is one of the most sacred tourist destinations in the world.

As it celebrates its 502nd opening anniversary this November, let’s take a peak behind the scenes at the secrets, side notes, and sexy conspiracies of the famous Sistine Chapel.

Stolen Blueprints


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The Sistine Chapel wasn’t an architectural feat of the 15th century. It stole its dimensions and layout from the Biblical descriptions of the Temple of Solomon in the Old Testament.

Except for one thing: it doesn’t have a processional front door. There’s no way in from outside and no way out. You have to enter it through the papal palace. So don’t ever be trapped in there during a fire.

It’s Prettier On The Inside


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It’s also super boring from the outside. There’s no fancy facade work or embellishment at all. Which is kinda weird considering its where they’ve elected and crowned most of the popes from 1492 upwards.

But the chapel’s commissioner Pope Sixtus IV seems to have wanted it that way. And he’s the one who ordered it built, held the first mass in it on August 15, 1483, and who its named after (the Latin Sixtus becomes Sisto in Italian, hence ‘Sistine’), so whatever he said goes. But it would be his nephew Pope Julius II who would go on to make its insides famous.

Famous Without Michelangelo


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The Sistine Chapel has become synonymous with the artwork Michelangelo installed on its ceilings. But even if he’d never added his two cents worth of paint, the Sistine Chapel would be artistically famous.

The overshadowed artwork on the wall like this fresco was painted by Sandro Botticelli, of naked Venus rising from the sea on a seashell fame.

Not So Sloppy Seconds


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Funnily enough, Michelangelo often found himself in the position painting alongside other masters works of art. He painted the same room as Leonardo Da Vinci in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio a few years later. Though it’s unlikely Michelangelo was ever in the same room as Da Vinci or in the Sistine Chapel at the same time as Botticelli. He’d already finished his murals decades before.

That left only the ceiling for Michelangelo to tackle—even though it was already painted solid blue and inset with gold stars by Umbrian artist Piermatteo d’Amelia.

This is an etching of what it would have looked like before Michelangelo touched the ceiling.

But He’s A Sculptor


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Michelangelo didn’t want to work on the Sistine Chapel. He was super keen and focused on his current sculpture piece for Pope Julius II’s future tomb. He considered himself a sculptor not a painter. And he didn’t want to be taken off the project to go paint things.

But Pope Julius II cleverly misplaced the rest of the funding for the sculpture and Michelangelo was forced to accept the new commission and pick up a paintbrush. Don’t worry, he got to go finish the sculpture several years later.

Misperceptions Of Posture

There’s a movie about Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel that has overdramatized his refusal to paint and the methods Pope Julius II went to to get him painting.

But the Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison movie “The Agony and the Ecstasy” didn’t confuse audiences on that point as much as they’ve left a lingering legacy of confusion regarding something else: how Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel. The set producers went with the idea that Michelangelo and his assistants were lying down as they painted on scaffolding nearly touching the ceiling itself. That’s become our pop culture conception of the activity, but it just wasn’t so. Yes, the scaffolding was cool. But it left them all standing and reaching up overhead to paint.

Poetic Agony


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Michelangelo hated it. He hated having to learn all about painting so quickly, he hated having to paint with his arms up to the ceiling day in and day out, and he even initially hated the proposed painting subjects.

When Pope Julius II first commissioned the work, he wanted the ceiling to only feature the Apostles. Michelangelo told him to shove it and expanded on the subject matter himself. Michelangelo also wrote an epic rage poem about how much he hated working on it to his friend Giovanni da Pistoia.

Extra Nuts For The Nudes


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To make up for changing the subject matter on his patron, Michelangelo hid an homage to Pope Julius’ family in his artwork.

Many of the naked young men (codeword: ignudi) in the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling have bunches of acorns around them. These were added in reference to Julius II’s family name, Rovere, which means the oak.

Adding Insult To Injury


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And that wasn’t the only bit of extra symbolism Michelangelo snuck into the ceiling.

His Garden of Eden is off kilter and doesn’t include the infamous apple tree of sin. Oh there’s a tree alright. But its a fig tree—which is traditional in Jewish lore, but not in Christian. In fact, most of the chosen subjects are purely Old Testament and encoded with Jewish symbolism, leading some art historians to question whether the whole ceiling was meant to ask whether the Christian church had forgotten its roots in Judaism and its original message, an insult to the popes.

Portraying God


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The biggest discrepancy in the insult theory is Michelangelo’s portrayal of God. Christianity is the only Abrahamic faith that lets people give God a face. So if he was going gung-ho on Jewish symbolism he wouldn’t have painted the Almighty sitting in the middle of the ceiling.

In fact, before Michelangelo’s depiction of God, he was usually depicted a hand or a light burst in western art—not something in physical human form. Michelangelo changed the game on everyone by painting God as a person. And it’s his older, white bearded male deity that has become the archetypal representation for the Christian God ever since.

Going Back For More


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Michelangelo finished the ceiling frescoes in 1512 after four solid years of painting. He painted God last, saying that he wanted to make sure his fresco technique was up to par before tackling the central subject matter. It was only after the scaffolding was removed that anyone was ever able to see the whole bit of artwork at once, including Michelangelo. At least half of the ceiling had been covered at all times during work by the beams and towers of the scaffolds.

But Michelangelo wasn’t done with the Sistine Chapel just yet. He returned to it twenty-two years later in 1536 to spend five years painting “The Last Judgement” on the wall above the altar.

The Literal Cover Up


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And other artists weren’t finished with his work either. The 1564 Council of Trent under the ultra-prudish Pope Pius IV deemed all the nudes on the ceiling and the walls to be in poor taste, and paid to have them covered up.

They hired poor artist Daniele da Volterra to come in and add fig leaves, draped clothing, plants and animals, and whatever else he could use to cover up everyone’s private parts with extra underclothes. Unfortunately, his desecration of some of the world’s most well renowned art has earned him the nickname Il Braghettone by posterity. It basically means Mr. Big Pants.

Papal Traffic


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Unless they’re busy with the conclave or crowning of a new Pope, the Sistine Chapel is open to tourists. A lot of tourists.

The Telegraph estimates that 25,000 people visit the Sistine Chapel every day, which adds up to about five million people a year. Given that entry is kinda expensive (and rising steadily), that means that the Sistine Chapel alone pulls in an annual income of 80 million Euros(+) per year for Vatican City. Not bad for a tiny autonomous nation.

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