In short: the prime minister of
claims Muslims discovered Turkey centuries before America . He bases this on Columbus mentioning finding a mosque upon arrival.
Some observations. Columbus
Observation the first
Let's start with the most obvious point: If we're going to assume
correctly identified everything in
his diaries, he didn't actually land in Columbus , but in America Asia. And finding a mosque in Asia in 1492 is really not that special.
Observation the second
Perhaps the most persuasive proof that
was not discovered in 1178, is that the world
did radically change in the century afterward. America
Most tellingly: there were still empires in the
when Americas arrived. Even if any pre-Columbian Old Worlders that ended up in Columbus had been completely peaceful, America Old World germs should've razed
the American civilizations, like they did after the European discoveries.
So Muslim sailors being blown off course and glimpsing the Brazillian coast prior to
? I can believe that. That's how the Portuguese discovered the place
after all. But them actually going there regularly, converting people and
building a mosque? If they had done that, sadly there wouldn't have been many
people left to convert after a century. North African Muslims carry the same
germs as South European Christians. Columbus
Observation the third
I can see why people would want to claim
for their nation/religion/culture/whatever. His discovery is one of the biggest
turning points in history. But without that hindsight, was he really someone
you want to associate yourself with? Columbus
Our current image of an explorer as a Captain Kirk-like figure who boldly goes where no man has gone before is profoundly influenced by Columbus and those who followed in his wake. However, if you read a bit more about explorers in general (I can recommend Felipe Fernández-Armesto's book Pathfinders) you'll see that most of them were more cautious. Sailing was expensive and dangerous, so they only sailed to places where they had a very good chance of finding something worthwhile. And if they did set out into the unknown, they usually sailed against the wind and oceanic currents. Which makes sense if you think about it: if you don't find anything, at least you'll quickly be home again.
So... suddenly this heroic explorer figure looks like a glory hound, and possibly a lunatic, not to mention either a terrible mathematician or a fraud. The most positive thing you can say about him is that he was incredibly lucky that he accidentally stumbled upon an entirely new continent before he ran out of resources and drowned, like the only known previous attempt at finding the western route to
Observation the fourth
Remember that bit about explorers only setting sail if the journey is thought to be profitable? That bit is the reason why I'm not surprised it was a European who discovered
Prior to 1500 America Europe was the backwater of the international economy. Some time between 500
BC and 1 AD a vast trading network had materialized across the Indian Ocean and over the Silk
Routes in Central Asia. This network ran from the all the way to Chinese Sea
and connected every region in-between. From the seventh century this network
was extended by regular caravans crossing the Zanzibar Sahara, which allowed the
vast mineral wealth of West Africa to be incorporated into the system. Europe knew of all this
trading wealth through Venetian and Genoese contacts with the Levant, through Marco Polo
and through the Crusades, but they couldn't get at it directly simply thanks to
their geographical location. And unlike West Africa they had no natural
resources that could easily buy them in. This made the possibility of a direct
so appealing to Europeans. China
If mister Erdogan does want to claim a geographical stroke of luck for Islam, surely "We were positioned so well that we didn't even need to discovered
!" is a better boast than "We accidentally stumbled upon America first!"? America
Well, perhaps not. But at least it's more historically accurate!
Observation the last
Where on earth did mister Erdogan get the date 1178? It's so oddly specific, and it's not in the article he based the claim on...
I don't really have a conclusion to this article. It's just a collection of observations. But the general idea should be clear: please let politicians stay well away from any historical comments.