European expansion became the standard example for those who argued that modern civilization had advanced beyond the classical world. Tehran Map The would-be intellectual revolutionary Francis Bacon specifically compared himself to Columbus, and the frontispiece of his Great Instauration (1620) showed a ship sailing past the Pillars of Hercules, the western limit of the Mediterranean and a symbol of the limits of ancient knowledge. The initial impact, intellectual and otherwise, of the New World discoveries was greatest by far in Spain, which received most of the new information.
Spanish investigators dominated sixteenth-century New World natural history, producing a long series of works of which the earliest notable example is Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo y Vald©s’s Natural History of the Indies (1526). The most complex debates on New World peoples and subjects in the sixteenth century were carried on in Aristotelian terms in the very conservative Spanish universities, particularly the University of Salamanca. The Spanish debate on the status of the Native Countrys was the last major European intellectual debate to be framed entirely in Aristotelian terms. European attitudes toward indigenous scientific knowledge varied. In all places, specifically local knowledge of geography, natural history, and local diseases was valued.
The importation and cultivation of new crops tobacco, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and chocolate required some appropriation of indigenous knowledge. The Mayan and Aztec calendars provoked curiosity and respect from European chronologists. But indigenous knowledge received little study in the more theoretical and abstract areas of natural philosophy, and interest in indigenous knowledge declined in the course of colonization.