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Their shipmates included rats and cockroaches. The sailors ate hard bread, beans, salt pork, and beef, and drank mostly wine, since their casked water quickly became foul. AFRICA AND THE ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE The Portuguese explorers ventured farther and farther down the West African coast, finally sailing past Cape Bojador in 1434. Within a few years the Portuguese established a lucrative coastal trade in slaves, gold, and malaguetta pepper in the Senegal region and farther south and east to the Gold Coast and Benin.
To increase 10 CHAPTER 1 Contact, Conflict, and Exchange in the Atlantic World, to 1590 maneuverability along jagged coastlines, Portuguese seafarers designed the caravel with lateen (triangular) sails. The most successful Portuguese ship for long voyages was the square-rigged caravel, developed late in the fifteenth century, which combined square sails on two masts for speed with a lateen sail on the third mast for agility. The Portuguese mounted artillery on the caravels and by 1500 introduced the practice of broadside fire.
Artisans created jewelry, smoking pipes, musical panpipes, and other art from these materials. The Great Serpent Mound, more than one-quarter mile long from the triangular tip to the tail, demonstrates the knowledge of astronomy of these ancient people. According to anthropologist William F. Romain in Mysteries of the Hopewell (2000), the mound is oriented to true astronomical north, and its measurements conform to the standard Hopewell 1,053-foot unit of length. The large oval and serpent’s head almost precisely face the setting sun on June 21, the summer solstice; the serpent’s body is aligned to the rising and setting moon.