The Magellan Project

Retracing the Route 500 Years Later

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In 1519, Leonardo da Vinci died, Michelangelo was working in Florence for Pope Leo X, Hernando Cortez entered and conquered the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. The young King Charles was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor. Translated versions of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were being circulated throughout Europe. The Reformation was underway. The Renaissance and the Age of Exploration were in full bloom.

Also in 1519, the Armada de Moluccas left the SW coast of Spain to discover the westward route to the Spice Islands. Five ships with a combined crew of 270 souls made their way to the coast of South America intending to complete the expedition goals of Columbus by finding a way around the “New World.”

Big water and ferocious storms pounded the expedition. Scurvy and starvation decimated the crews. Mutiny, shipwreck, and a massacre were all a part of the backstory. One ship officer was charged, convicted, and garroted for sodomy within the first few months of the expedition.

Three years later, 1 ship with 18 of the original souls on board appeared offshore of San Lucar de Barrameda, the port of departure. The Victoria, loaded with spices and barely afloat, had closed the circle. The first documented circumnavigation of the Earth, connecting East to West, was complete.

In commemoration of the 500 year anniversary of the expedition, The Magellan Project will retrace the route of the circumnavigation, conducting public engagement along the way and producing a documentary of the retracing. The story of the original circumnavigation will serve as the underpinning of the documentary. Educational content covering subjects related to geography, history, anthropology, navigation, marine biology, and weather will be produced. This content will be put up on iTunes U.