Boats of the World: From the Stone Age to Medieval Times by Seán McGrail

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By Seán McGrail

This is often the 1st booklet to deal comprehensively with the archaeology of rafts, boats, and ships from the Stone Age to Medieval occasions. all of the areas of the area are lined, from Atlantic Europe and the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, the China Sea, and the Pacific.

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Sample text

For the purposes of exposition, the seafaring world has been divided into ten regions (Chs 2-11). The reasons for defining some of these regions are clear: for example, the early Americas had negligible overseas contact with the rest of the world, apart from the circumpolar zone, from first settlement until the late fifteenth century AD. Australia was similarly virtually isolated until post-medieval times; pre-Hellenic Egypt and early Mesopotamia can also be reasonably dealt with as individual maritime zones, although in both cases documented overseas voyages were undertaken at an early date.

As the definition of shipbuilding traditions in terms of structural characteristics is refined, including the recognition of temporal and regional variants, the identification of a wreck's region of origin should become increasingly practicable. In the long run, it may prove possible to narrow origins down to a particular 'shipyard' where some master builder had given a recognizable personal touch to his ship's structure or her decorative features. The 'nationality' of the crew (as deduced from their personal possessions), and the nature of the cargo carried, have both been used in the search for a wreck's origins.

2 BOATBUILDING TRADITIONS The scheme for dividing water transport outlined in Fig. 4 deals only with the early stages of classification, merely identifying the major groups of floats, rafts, and boats with some subdivision of the boats. Further work needs to be done to take classification beyond the lowest levels shown in Fig. 4. To do this a wide range of characteristics would have to be analysed, mostly structural attributes such as fastening methods, but also the means of propulsion and steering as well as aspects of form.

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