How the acquisition of knowledge is integral part of travel
The world is a hunting ground for knowledge. Human curiosity has fueled countless objectives over the millennia. This innate following has led many to seek out knowledge through education. Some took their search to the roads, others to the sea, while some remained in their humble abodes reading books and hearing fantastic stories. All in all, the few that took to traveling for the acquisition of knowledge are responsible for the plethora of accounts, narratives, and stories that now make up the travel canon. After reading the texts, it is evident that the acquisition of knowledge is both a leading theme and a leading motive for the exploration of foreign cultures and unknown territory.
The first major knowledge-seeker provides the basis for Greek history, as it is seen today. Herodotus
gives an in-depth examination of the cultures he encounters, particularly perplexed and bewildered by the Egyptians. He was of the first thinkers to travel and collect his findings in one place, granting knowledge to himself and those who read his The Histories
. As the “Father of History,” Herodotus takes the lead in searching for knowledge, recording it, and sharing his experiences with the world.
Following the intentions of Herodotus, the legendary Marco Polo
set out on a journey of exploration and adventure. Recording what he saw and those he met on the way, Polo tells a much more dramatic and exciting tale than his predecessor. Though the trip became one of slightly economic purposes, the motives and interests for acquiring knowledge remained constant, leaving us with one of the only accounts of China before they closed themselves off to the rest of the world. Marco Polo’s The Travels
gives readers a glimpse into the ancient court of Kubilai Khan
, enriching the minds of those who do not have the means to travel (especially in that time period).
Knowledge does not always come in great adventures with intentions of recording and documenting; it can also be acquired through spiritual journey. Ibn Battutah
, regarded as the “Muslim Marco Polo,” began his travels on a spiritual journey. He embarked on the hajj
, an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, to acquire more spiritual knowledge. In his account, he ends up continuing his travels and taking similar actions to those of Marco Polo. He writes down what he sees, learning and sharing through travel.
Years later, with Marco Polo’s The Travels
in hand, a young Christopher Columbus
sets off, hoping to learn, chart, and establish a new trade route to the East Indies. Instead, he strikes a gold mine of unknown lands, language, customs, and culture—a wealth of knowledge yet to be decoded. He documents all that he sees and shares his knowledge with fellow conquistadors
. These fellows return to the New World, one of which being Cabeza de Vaca
. De Vaca encounters a learning experience unlike any others; the unintentional travels throughout La Florida
develop his understanding of the natives, even spurring him to defend them later in his life.
Throughout the years, men have determined that knowledge is power, seeking to acquire it in every corner of the earth. There is no doubt that traveling is, in essence and inevitably, a learning experience. No matter the motivations or intentions, knowledge is an undeniable part of travel proving evident in the majority of the travel narratives.