Pat Shingleton: "Where Are We?"
Without charts or a Global Positioning Satellite system, the only means to determine a sailor or explorer's location on the water could be through celestial navigation. Many years ago a captain's chart was little more than the ship's log. On old maps, a circular directional emblem that appeared on charts in one form or another, is a "wind rose." Mariner's in Homer's time identified direction with wind and early cartographers were part artist, part astronomer and combined wind direction into the "wind rose." Once bona-fide nautical charts were initiated in the fourteenth century, the four primary winds were schematically positioned around a circle that represented the horizon. Always present on the newly designed charts was the "wind-rose" that contained a radial set of points, such as a star, directed into each wind position. The rhumb lines radiated from the central point of the rose, connected to each directional point. On old maps, a circular directional emblem that appeared on charts in one form or another, is a "wind rose." The rhumb lines radiated from the central point of the rose, connected to each directional point. Just like today, early mariners were at the mercy of the wind and used this circular, directional emblem for several hundred years. Early Italian wind roses indicated an east wind with an "L" for "levanter" with the west wind designated as a setting sun. Different types of winds such as the "grecco" or northeast wind was marked with a "G". An "S" marked a "sirocco" or southeast wind and the symbol for a northwest wind or "maestro" carried an "M". The north wind originally was noted with a variety of symbols depicting celestial stars. In the 1500s, north was often marked with a symbol familiar to us, the fleur-de-lis. The discovery of the lodestone or magnetite, once touched to a steel needle, began the development of the compass.
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