The author has followed his popular and important “European Water Transport” with a book to complete the picture by reviewing water transport beyond Europe. The level of detail and research is first rate with many illustrations. The work is most interesting in charting ancient craft that navigated the open seas successfully and those that provided secure transport on inland waters – Highly Recommended.
NAME: Early Ships and Seafaring, Water Transport Beyond Europe FILE: R2487 AUTHOR: Sean McGrail PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PAGES: 220 PRICE: £19.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Ship building, ship design, naval architecture, technology, materials, techniques, seamanship, maritime transport, ancient civilizations
IMAGE: B2487.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/mq6cc5c LINKS: DESCRIPTION: The author has followed his popular and important “European Water Transport” with a book to complete the picture by reviewing water transport beyond Europe. The level of detail and research is first rate with many illustrations. The work is most interesting in charting ancient craft that navigated the open seas successfully and those that provided secure transport on inland waters – Highly Recommended. Having written the “European Water Transport”, it was logical for the author to produce this companion book to complete his review of early ships and seafaring around the world. The result is an extremely informative volume that will surprise some readers by demonstrating the many innovative ways in which early ships were constructed using local materials. The mass of documentation produced on ships concentrate on Medieval craft and ships built from the 15th Century. That means that the concentration is on European ships and ships predominantly from English-speaking countries. Seafaring is similarly narrowly focused on the European Age of Discovery. Earlier ships and those from beyond Europe have received very little attention in English language publications. This new book is therefore particularly welcome. It is now clear that seafaring beyond the navigation of inland waters and coastal waters was not something that sprang fully formed from the 15th Century. Within Europe, the recognition has been growing that the Vikings sailed oceans and set up colonies in the Americas. That has been reinforced by discoveries of American archaeologists in recent years. However, the Vikings were just another group of people who rediscovered what older civilizations had discovered before them. The Egyptians may well have produced ships capable of sailing the oceans more than 3,000 years ago. This is a growing belief that is based on archaeological discovery, restoration and reconstruction of ancient boats and paintings. That will surprise many, but the probability is that earlier civilizations, now long lost, achieved similar or greater maritime success. One of the difficulties is that early ships had to use commonly available local materials and these were materials that decayed easily over the years from the vessels being discarded. Ancients texts provide some fragments of information that suggest very large vessels were constructed and were capable of lengthy voyages. Wood was a very popular shipbuilding material, but reed bundles, animal hides and many other materials were also used where they were the most readily available materials. Unlike metals, all of these materials imposed constraints on the practical size of vessels. Metals also impose some constraints on maximum size, but have been proven to allow the construction of vessels of several hundred thousands tons. Until someone tries, it is not known how much larger a vessel design can be, although computer models give some indications of practical constraints. The major constraint has generally been the limits of power systems. The first vessels were almost certainly roughly crafted tree trunks and rafts of wood or reed. These could be propelled and controlled to some degree by simple paddles. As designs became more ambitious the oar started to become a common form of propulsion and Mediterranean seafarers learned how to add tiers of rowers above lower tiers, dramatically increasing the available power of warships that were capable of ramming other warships. However, the sail was to prove the most effective means of propelling vessels over long distances, reducing the number of crew required and the food and water required to sustain them. Ship builders in different parts of the world developed some similar practices and some unique practices, usually from their own direct experience and experimentation. The author has provided examples of this rich diversity.