In modern times, satellites and navigation devices make it easier to search any territory. In the past, however, any exploration expedition was conducted in the field of risk.
Relying only on physical endurance and a few mapping tools, the explorers spent months, sometimes even years, studying new territories and recording discoveries in journals.
Many of these journeys ended tragically, and others had an unknown outcome, which we can only intuit. In this article we present you three cases of expedition crews missing in mysterious conditions.
Madoc, the Welsh explorer lost in North America
Centuries before Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World, a Welsh prince named Madoc left Wales with ten ships and a bold dream: to discover new territory.
Madoc was the illegitimate son of King Owain Gwynedd, who had 18 other sons. In 1169, King Owain died, and the battle for the throne turned into a war between his sons.
Not animated by the desire to access the throne, Madoc formed a group of people who were loyal to him and set out in search of new territories.
According to legend, he returned from the expedition in 1171 and told the Welsh about his discoveries. Then he gathered a larger group, with whom he embarked on a second expedition, from which he never returned.
Some claim that the stone forts along the Alabama River were built by Madoc. Photo: Wikimedia
The story, which was first mentioned in a Welsh manuscript from the 1500s, is poor in detail. Some historians believe that Madoc and his men arrived in the southern United States on the coast of Alabama today.
Particular attention was paid to the stone forts built along the Alabama River before the arrival of Columbus, which some Cherokee tribes say were built by “white people.”
Some speculate that Madoc and his crew joined the Mandan natives of North America. In fact, this myth is supported by the alleged resemblance between Mandan and Welsh.
Also in 1799, Tennessee Governor John Sevier wrote a report detailing the discovery of six skeletons clad in Welsh coat of arms.
The existence of the skeletons has not been officially confirmed, but if it is true, it could be the strongest indication of the fate of Madoc’s expedition.
The Vivaldi brothers “evaporated” in Africa
In 1291, two centuries before the navigator Christopher Columbus set out in search of an alternative route to Asia (reaching the New World), the brothers Vandino and Ugolino Vivaldi organized a similar expedition.
Leaving Genoa, the two brothers and their crew hoped to reach India bypassing the southern tip of Africa. They took supplies with them for about ten years, so they expected to travel a long time.
In the middle of 1291, they passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and were taken… They were never seen again.
There have been several attempts to clarify the fate of the expedition. The first search mission, which took place in 1312, was led by Lancelotto Malocello.
The Vivaldi brothers are believed to have been captured by an African tribe. Photo: Pinterest
The crew sailed to the Canary Islands, where they built a fort. The navigators remained there for more than two decades, without finding any trace of the missing brothers.
Then, Ugolino’s son, Sorleone, also went on a search mission. According to some hypotheses, it is possible that Sorleone reached Mogadishu, but he did not find the two brothers either.
Another mention of the expedition appears in 1455, when the explorer Antoniotto Uso Di Mare said that he met the descendant of a member of the Vivaldi brothers’ expedition. According to him, the brothers arrived in Senegal, where they were captured and held captive for the rest of their lives.
Peter Tessem and Paul Knutsen, a tragedy with many strangers
In 1919, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen participated in an expedition on the northern coast of Russia. At one point, one of his crew members, Peter Tessem, began to suffer from chronic migraines.
As a result, he was left at Cape Celiuskin with another explorer, Paul Knutsen, who had explored the area before. Amundsen was confident the two would arrive in Dikson in about a month.
Paul Knutsen knew where the supplies in the area had been left, so the two should have been safe.
However, the two men did not reach Dikson. In 1920, the Norwegian government organized a rescue mission, which proved to be a failure.
Photograph taken at the time of the discovery of Tessem’s body. Photo: Pinterest
The Soviets set out in search of the two in 1921. On the way, they found a Norwegian sleigh and a letter stating that the two were healthy. Otherwise, no sign of Tessem and Knutsen.
In August 1922, fortunately, a Soviet research team found the scientific equipment and data that had been entrusted to the two. After a while, they found a body with a gold watch engraved with Tessem’s name on it.
The body was found very close to the town of Dikson. Knutsen’s resting place and details of what really happened are unknown.
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