eli5 Did other ancient have travellers like the europeans did? If so why do we focus so heavily on European history/advancements in schools?


edit: Did other ancient civilizations have travelers like the Europeans did? If so why do we focus so heavily on European history/advancements in schools?

In: 6

They did, yes. A samurai named [Hasekura Tsunenaga](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasekura_Tsunenaga), for example, traveled east across the Pacific, all the way across North America, across the Atlantic, visited much of Europe, and returned via colonial-era Latin America, for example.

Wiki has a [list](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_explorers); here’s a few notables:

* [Zhang Qian](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Qian), a 2nd century Chinese explorer who visited much of western Asia and returned to China and is responsible in part for the establishment of the Silk Road (which would, itself, have hundreds of traveling merchants along its length).

* [Zheng He](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zheng_He), who explored much of South Asia and East Africa from his homeland in China.

* [Ibn Battuta](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Battuta), a Berber who was the most traveled man known in the pre-modern world, who visited almost the entirety of the Old World from South Africa to Spain to Russia to China to India. He traveled more than 100,000 km in the 1300s, mostly from 1325 to 1347, which means he averaged around 12 km of travel *per day* for more than 20 years in a pre-industrial world.

In addition to these deliberate explorers, you’ll find plenty of other people who ended up in cultures wildly different from their own, as with [Yasuke](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasuke), a slave or servant from Mozambique who ended up in the service of famous Japanese historical figure Oda Nobunaga.

We hear mostly about the Europeans because (a) you and I are speaking English and therefore are by nature working within a European cultural world and (b) European colonial power made early European explorers particularly important to world history, because they laid the groundwork for the eventual colonization of most of the world by Europe. To really make the point on (a), Ibn Battuta’s travels weren’t known in Europe until more than 500 years after he died, despite there being *tons* of cultural contact between Europe and the Muslim world.

Other countries and cultures did have travelers, however, the European travelers reshaped much of the world far more than any other single group. Either through direct war and conquest, or through technological innovations, or through political or social upheavals, their legacy formed much of the world we know today. Yes, some folks from here or there traveled and saw and wrote and described and went back home and that was that and they had good stories to tell. The Europeans got off their boats and killed a bunch of people and took possession of the land and brought in more Europeans and set up kingdoms and alliances and took people and stuff and set up new governments and military outposts and the like.

So they weren’t just like tourists, they were the ultimate rude tourists.