The Exploration of Siberia

Автор: Maks Ноя 23, 2020

A number of explorations by Russian explorers and seafarers in the seventeenth century marked the critical, preliminary stage of Russia’s assimilation of Siberia. It was the century that saw the most important geographical discoveries in the vast, barren stretches of uncharted territory that lay eastward. In 1648 Semen Dezhnev and Fedot Popov, travelling in longboats equipped with sails sewn from hides, led an expedition that sailed from the mouth of the Kolyma River to the mouth of the Anadyr.

Their discovery of the narrow strait between Asia and North America, which was to be rediscovered eighty years later by Vitus Bering and given his name, made them the first Europeans to see Alaska. Although their discoveries finally came to be regarded as no less significant than the accomplishments of Magellan, Columbus and da Gama, the exploits of this pair of daring Russian explorers remained long unrecognized by historians.

Popov went on to discover the Kamchatka peninsula while Dezhnev’s expedition, disembarking at the mouth of the Anadyr, founded the Anadyr stockade. Dezhnev went on to sketch maps of the river and wrote descriptions of his voyage and of the flora and fauna he came across in the wilderness of that region.

Another early explorer and cartographer, Kurbat Ivanov, established his reputation in 1643 after becoming the first European to sail across Lake Baikal. He succeeded Semen Dezhnev as commander of the Anadyr stockade and then led an expedition along the Anadyr River to its ocean mouth and eventually to Kamchatka. Sailing along the shoreline of what later became known as the Bering Sea, Ivanov discovered a coastal inlet (which almost two hundred years later, in 1848, an English sea captain called Moore named the Bay of Providence). The most important result of Ivanov’s exploration was the Kurbat Ivanov map. Modem geographers note that on this early Russian map there appeared a large unnamed island, now known as Wrangel Island, credit for the discovery of which went to a nineteenth-century American whaler named Loring—some two centuries after it was I shown on Ivanov’s map.

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