Thursday, February 19, 2015

Factoid of the day

From Harappa's facebook page:

The boat has a sharply upturned prow and stern, a feature which is present in nearly all archaic representations of boats; for example, the same boat appears in early Minoan seals, on the Predynastic pottery of Egypt, and on the cylinder seals of Sumer...It will be noticed that this boat is shown as lashed together at both bow and stern, indicating perhaps that it was made of reeds like the primitive boats of Egypt and the craft that were used in the swamps of southern Babylonia. The absence of a mast suggests that this boat was used only for river work, as are some of the wooden boats on the Indus at the present day; though the modern boats have a less acutely upturned prow and stern, they usually have a similar cabin-like erection in the middle, sometimes constructed of wood and sometimes of reeds. The boats of today are chiefly used for fishing and are either rowed or punted against the stream.This seal is invaluable in indicating a type of vessel that was in use in ancient Sindh. 
In these treeless areas, reed were used.

and they appear similar to the reed boats of Lake Tinicaca in south America.


But the design reminded me of the boats painted on the wall of Thera. 

Minoan Miniature Frieze Admirals Flotilla Fresco Shipping Scene
Late Bronze Age (LBA), Neo-Palatial Period
Akrotiri, Santorini (Thera), Greece. 

These were made of hewn wood...

They were constructed by first chopping down a single tall Cypress tree and stripping off its branches.... A team of men carved it with their sharp bronze axes and saws; shaping it to nearly its final form. The upward sloping curves of the bow and stern were bent into shape using heat and steam. After the keel attained its final shape, a long cleanly sawn plank of Cypress was ‘edge-joined’ to each side of it. They chiseled out deep rectangular matching slots (mortises) along the length of the keel and the length of one of the edges of the plank. Flat rectangular pieces of wood (tenons or tongues) were cut to fit snugly into the matching slots. When the plank fit onto the tenons sticking out of the slots in the keel, the joins were filled with a mixture of resins. 

presumably the designs were adapted to local materials.

After all, aren't there only a few ways to make a boat? well, maybe or maybe not...

that ignores the history of double canoes.

The catamaran concept is a relative newcomer for Western boat designers, although they have been used since time immemorial among the Dravidian people, in South India. Catamarans were developed independently in Oceania, where Polynesian catamarans and outrigger canoesallowed seafaring Polynesians to voyage to the remotest Pacific islands.

these go back to the Chola dynasty (starting 200 BC).

here, fishermen commonly used outrigger canoes, often using bamboo to stablize the boat (although nowadays I've seen PVC pipes used instead).


for later reading: The history of boats.

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