Severe scurvy struck Columbus’s crew during his second voyage and after its end, forensic archaeologists suggest, likely leading to the collapse of the first European town established in the New World.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic, beginning Europe’s discovery of the New World. Two years later on his second voyage, he and 1,500 colonists founded La Isabela, located in the modern-day Dominican Republic.
The first permanent European town in the Western Hemisphere, La Isabela was abandoned within four years amid sickness and deprivation.
Historians have long blamed diseases such as smallpox, influenza, and malaria for the town’s demise. But a study of graveyard remains from the town site, reported online in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, suggests that an ancient seafarer’s scourge—scurvy, a severe vitamin C deficiency—plagued Columbus’s first colony and worsened the illnesses behind their town’s collapse. Read more.
Skeletons don’t lie. But sometimes they can mislead, as in the case of bones that reputedly showed evidence of syphilis in Europe and other parts of the Old World before Christopher Columbus made his historic voyage in 1492.
None of this skeletal evidence, including 54 previously published reports, holds up when subjected to standardised analyses for both diagnosis and dating, according to an new appraisal in the current Yearbook of Physical Anthropology. In fact, the skeletal data strengthens the case that syphilis did not exist in Europe before Columbus set sail.
“This is the first time that all 54 of these cases have been evaluated systematically,” says George Armelagos, an anthropologist at Emory University and co-author of the appraisal. “The evidence keeps accumulating that a progenitor of syphilis came from the New World with Columbus’ crew and rapidly evolved into the venereal disease that remains with us today.” Read more.
KENOSHA — The Pinta and the Nina, replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships, will open for tours in Kenosha Tuesday, Aug. 30. The ships will be docked at the Kenosha Yacht Club, 5130 Fourth Ave., until their departure early Monday, Sept. 12.
The Nina was built completely by hand and without the use of power tools. Archaeology magazine called the ship “the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built.” The “Pinta” was recently built in Brazil to accompany the Nina on all of her travels. She is a larger version of the archetypal caravel.
Both ships tour together as a new and enhanced “sailing museum” for the purpose of educating the public and school children on the Caravel, a Portuguese ship used by Columbus and many early explorers used to discover the world.
While in port, the general public are invited to visit the ships from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for youth ages 5-16 . There is no charge for children 4 and younger. No reservations necessary. (source)
NOAA-sponsored explorers are searching a wild, largely unexplored and forgotten coastline for evidence and artifacts of one of the greatest seafaring traditions of the ancient New World, where Maya traders once paddled massive dugout canoes filled with trade goods from across Mexico and Central America. One exploration goal is to discover the remains of a Maya trading canoe, described in A.D. 1502 by Christopher Columbus’ son Ferdinand, as holding 25 paddlers plus cargo and passengers.
Through the end of May, the team is exploring the remote jungle, mangrove forests and lagoons at the ancient port site of Vista Alegre (“happy view” in Spanish) where the Caribbean meets the Gulf of Mexico at the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Scientists believe the port was part of an important trading network and was used at various times between about 800 B.C. and A.D. 1521, the date scholars use to designate the start of Spanish rule. Read more.
Experience history firsthand when replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships Nina and Pinta dock at Tin City from April 1st through the 10th. While in port, the general public is invited to visit the ships for walk-aboard self-guided tours.
The ‘Nina’ was built completely by hand and without the use of power tools, and was called by Archaeology magazine “the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built.” The craftsmanship of construction and the details in the rigging make it a truly fascinating visit back to the Age of Discovery. The ‘Nina’ was used in the production of the film ‘1492’ starring Gerard Depardieu and directed by Ridley Scott. Read more.