Continents: Europe and Asia

The Straight Dope’s answer to the question “Why are Europe and Asia considered separate continents” seemed well-researched and accurate, but at the same time, seemed to pull its punches. Historical and cultural considerations explain why Europe and Asia have been considered separately, but they do not justify an exception to the geographical concept of “continent”: a large land mass unconnected to other large land masses, excepting connections by isthmuses. The Ural mountains can hardly be considered an isthmus.

We no longer consider the Sun to revolve around the Earth; we no longer consider the Earth to be flat. Why did we persist in holding onto the classical misconception that Asia and Europe are unconnected?


P.S. If something I say sounds ridiculous, I might be joking.

We still say “the sun rises” in the morning.

Ceasing to distinguish Europe and Asia as “continents” after thousands of years of use would only make the situation more confusing.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

If you look at almost any map of the World you will notice that most of the lines on it weren’t placed there by God (or nature).

Geography is a “social science” and as such the influence of society will always be imposed on it. Although on the same landmass, Europe and Asia are culturally, racially and politically, worlds apart.

As a History teacher I usually stop referring to “Eurasia” about the same time the first Pyramids went up. Alexander, Attila, and Gengis Khan had no conception of the term. They knew were Asia was and they knew where Europe was, and the knew that they were nowhere near each other.

There is and always has been a barrier between Asia and Europe, it’s just not made out of water, or anything else physical, for that matter.

And besides, it’d throw Risk WAY the heck out of proportion to have a twelve-point continent so easy to defend…

WHOA a second. Back up please. What IS THIS about the earth being flat??? Since when do people tip their noses at the truth? Next thing, you people will try to tell me that Teflon has a lower co-efficient of friction than aluminum. (I just love to tweak mechanical engineers…)

Typer, who KNOWS the Earth is flat. flat. flat.

Boris refers to the “classical msiconception” that Europe and Asia were seperated. I just wanted to point out that no one ever thought that the two were geographically discret (any more than educated people ever thought the world was flat). In fact, today’s misconception is that Europe somehow gave the continients their names as a way to demean and opress Asia and Africa; in fact, the continiets gained thier names long before Europe had any clout at all. The names “Europe” and “Asia” and “Africa” did not really refer to continents the way we see them at all. Instead they were different shores of the Mediteranian, the most important geographical feature to the people who named these places. All the cities were grouped around it like “frogs on the banks of a pond” (Aristotle). None of these people were much concerned with the land 50 miles inland; in fact, a resident of Rome in the time of Augustus probably had more in common with a resident of Alexandria or Jeruselum than with the Italian peasant a day’s ride away.

What was Asia to the folks of the ‘Cassical’ times became Asia MINOR when they found more beyond it. The subject really seems to be some people’s pet quibble. I run across the term Eurasian (Euroasian, Euro-Asian, Eur-Asian, etc) Landmass often enough that it isn’t unusual. Especially in books dealing with biology, history, or geology from a more technical level to the popular. Biology especially is fond of ‘land mass’ instead of continent. I rarely see it in geography, unless they are pointing out that Europe actually is a pennisula of that mass. Don’t think I have ever seen Eurasia in a travel book, as they are more ‘culture’ oriented. It seems to me the usage depends on the context. Get into plate techtoniks and India is forcing its way into being part of Asia and Japan is not part of Asia and is trying to escape. I may be way off here ,but I think Greenland is part of the northeastern N American plate. (And you’ve got Eurasian as the off spring of oriental and caucasian parents .Sometimes more specifically relating to folks from the Russo-Sino regions) FLAT! look around you typer the earth is cubicle, like two of papas pyramids attached base to base, with the axis running diagonaly thru the center. It is not a perfect cube, Mt Everest (or what ever its name is) is one of the corners, other Mt’s are the others, hence the 4 corners of the earth (they didn’t count the poles as they are rounded off from friction against the supporting heavens. Unless you are one of the misguided who think FOUR corners is a mishearing of FAR corners then it is a perfect cube.

Actually, when the continents were named by the Greeks, they did not know that Asia (which to them meant Asia Minor) was connected to Europe by going around the Black Sea, and they may not have known that Africa was connected, either.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams