World maps, says Prof Harari, tended to be filled in before 1500. Columbus, in insisting that he had reached Asia, was a man of the Middle Ages. Americo Vespucci, he says, was the first modern man to say that had a new continent, unknown to the ancients. This discovery was the founding event of the scientific revolution. It taught Europeans that there were many things in the world still unknown.

Of course some may dispute that.


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