Anthropoligical view of John Davis - Explorer

Essay by Craig3University, Bachelor'sA-, March 1996

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During the 16th Century - there was no such thing as an explorer which simply had one task. Every captain had other motives in mind which could be plunder, colonization, or even to explore and give an anthropological look at what really happened. These explorers are comparable to present day anthropologists because some of them kept excellent records of native people, their habits and even learned bits of their language. An explorer had to know these things in order to survive - something John Davis was quite capable of during his second voyage in 1586.

To begin to call John Davis an anthropologist is an understatement. His records are clear and accurate, if not in the old world English, you could say that his works are comparable to present day text from anthropologists. Davis, on his expedition to the North Pole, sailed to an island where he found a graveyard where previous natives had been laid to rest.

Not ignoring it, he gives us an accurate description of what they were wearing in the grave, what they wore around their necks and how he presumed this to be idols they worshipped. He also saw that they were involved in witchcraft and making tools as Davis wandered through the community taking notes and observing. He begin to see how they wanted to 'cast spells' because 'they were desirous to have me go into the smoke, which by no means they would do', Davis notes.

However, Davis is also aware of other aspects of this particular culture. He notes their agility and high skill level associated with wrestling. '... we found them strong and nimble, and to have skill in wrestling' he says in his log. He also observes that they would steal iron from their camps when they weren't looking...