Before the invention of accurate navigation tools, getting from place to place was very inefficient. Travel could take several days or many months. This often stifled trade and commerce. New societies and resources went undiscovered for thousands of years without the availability of good navigational tools. Perishable goods could not be delivered in time to towns where nutritious foods and plants were needed. Some spices and herbs that we take for granted today, such as salt and pepper, were available only to the rich who could afford to pay traders to journey the long distances and retrieve them.
The earliest method to navigate large bodies of water was to stay within sight of land. Another method developed shortly after was dead reckoning. Mariners who did know how to sail in the open waters usually kept their navigation knowledge a secret to prevent competition in both trade and war. Other basic methods used to navigate water and land include the stars, sun, wind, and time.