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There are two persistent historical myths that relate to Europe’s desire to find a trade route to the East: “people thought the world was flat” & “spices were used to disguise the taste of spoiled food.” Neither statement is true. By the Age of Exploration, scientists understood that the world was round. Before refrigeration foods were preserved primarily by salting, smoking, or drying. Even the humblest peasant usually had access to a kitchen garden with a variety of herbs that were used for medicinal and culinary purposes.
In this activity you will think about the actual causes behind European exploration and the effects it had on the Europeans who stayed at home. As preparation for the discussion, view the video Conquest of America.
What were some of the events and changes taking place in Europe in the 15th & 16th centuries that both encouraged and enabled exploration and colonization?