Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ocean Going Ships Timeline

Fabio Paolo Barbieri (on Facebook) wrote that Vikings invented the first ocean-going ships. I think not. Ocean-going ship, or sea-going boat? There's a fine line of distinction. What is the difference?

A working definition of ships (vs boats) is based on their ability to carry cargo, or people, and operate independently for extended periods of time. (They also had sails and oars, usually a keel, but not always.) And length, too. Any vessel over 100 feet was a ship. Or, a ship had a fitted deck above the water line, a boat may have a cockpit or it may be completely open. (Which brings us back to the matter of ballast and cargo definition of ship—as it was stored under the deck.)

But ancient boats too were definitely ocean-going, carried cargo, and were self-sustaining for long periods of time. That got me a-Googling.
The earliest known reference to an organization devoted to ships in ancient India is to the Mauryan Empire from the 4th century BC. It is believed that the navigation as a science originated on the river Indus some 5000 years ago. Maritime trade began with safer coastal trade and evolved with the manipulation of the monsoon winds, soon resulting in trade crossing boundaries such as the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. —Ancient Maritime History . Wikipedia
One simple answer was: a ship can carry a boat, but a boat cannot carry a ship. Did Viking ships carry boats? Nope. Another definition is "A vessel with only one deck is a boat, more than one deck—it's a ship." Again, that rules out Viking boats. 

I also found this: "A ship is a vessel with no fewer than three masts." Well, that rules out all vessel until the iconic sailing ships of the 1800s!  BTW, there is no evidence of sails on Viking boats until 700 AD; in contrast, St. Brendan (c. 484-577) was sailing far and wide in his wee báidín replete with 12 apostles. In fact, the Norse word for ship, lung is borrowed from the Irish word long." And the Irish word for boat, báta, is a loanword from...the Latin.  Bark (ship) (barque, barca.

Old Norse
båd; fartøj
båt, fartøy

                —from Loanwords in the Irish language

The one I loved was: You can row a boat, you can't row a ship. A ship is propelled by sail (or power only). Oars make vessels into boats?

Another answer: The difference between a ship or a boat has to do with function. On a boat, the function is on its deck, the function of a ship is inside it. That definitely rules out those Viking boats. A boat leans into a turn—a ship leans out.  But these are modern definitions.

We are rather slovenly with our terminology as to the differences between ships (also a verbal noun). and boats, and tend to use them interchangeably, and when in doubt we revert to the word vessel. 

I suspect in the ancient world, any seaworthy vessel capable of sailing far distances, was a ship, either with upper deck, or open boat. I suspect our friend was using this definition for a Viking ship: A ship is an ocean-going vessel. A boat is a coastal vessel, it hugs the shoreline and inland waters. You can ship things on boats.

boat (n.) Look up boat at
Old English bat "boat, ship, vessel," from Proto-Germanic *bait- (cognates: Old Norse batr, Dutch boot, German Boot), possibly from PIE root *bheid- "to split" (see fissure) if the notion is of making a boat by hollowing out a tree trunk; or it may be an extension of the name for some part of a ship. French bateau "boat" is from Old English or Norse. Spanish batel, Italian battello, Medieval Latin batellus likewise probably are from Germanic.
ship (v.) Look up ship at
c.1300, "to send or transport (merchandise, people) by ship; to board a ship; to travel by ship, sail, set sail," also figurative, fromship (n.). Old English scipian is attested only in the senses "take ship, embark; be furnished with a ship." 
c.1300, "a ship," from ship (n.). Meaning "act of sending (freight) by a ship, etc." is from late 15c. As "ships generally or collectively" from 1590s.
vessel (n.) Look up vessel at
c.1300, "container," from Old French vessel "container, receptacle, barrel; ship" (12c., Modern French vaisseau) from Late Latinvascellum "small vase or urn," also "a ship," alteration of Latin vasculum, diminutive of vas "vessel." Sense of "ship, boat" is found in English from early 14c. "The association between hollow utensils and boats appears in all languages."
skipper (n.1) Look up skipper at
"captain or master of a ship," late 14c., from Middle Dutch scipper, from scip (see ship (n.)). Compare English shipper, used from late 15c. to 17c. in sense "skipper." Transferred sense of "captain of a sporting team" is from 1830.

At the very least, I had a good time assembling this timeline and learned gobs about vasculitii (from Latin vasculum "a small vessel," diminutive of vas "vessel"), to all types of boats, in the process. The haphazardness of this timeline (still in flux) has much to do with the order in which I found the information, sometimes, literally, boat by boat.

My very ad hoc timeline:

3000 BC—Ancient Egyptians assembled wooden planks into a hull using woven straps to lash planks together, and reeds for caulking to seal the seams. (Q: is this a river boat or sea boat?—The Mediterranean Sea is much calmer than the ocean. So we take this with a grain of salt. We're thinking river barge or rafts. But here's the thing, many had sails. Some had 16 oars. Ship or boat? You decide.

ca. 2600 BC—The Mohenjodaro had extensive technical ship-building texts.

By 2500 BC, the Egyptians were building wooden vessels capable of sailing across oceans. 

2500 BC—Somalis were trading with the Arabian Peninsula; Swahili & Mali were part of huge maritime cultures of Central Africa. 

2030 BC—Ferriby Boat 3, Humber River, Yorkshire, Britain, probably was ocean-going, but because it was a flat-bottomed boat, there's considerable debate.

2000 BC—Minoan naval power controlled the Mediterranean.

1940 BC—Ferriby Boat 2, Humber River, Britain.

1900 BC World's Oldest Sea Vessels Discovered in Egypt ca. 4,000 years ago, capable of voyages 1,000 miles away.

1880-1680 BC—Ferriby Boat 1, Humber River, Yorkshire, Britain, 43 feet long and nearly six feet wide, and fitted with 18 paddles, it probably was ocean-going, but it was a three-strake (sallow keel—like a canoe) flat-bottomed boat, so there's considerable debate. The Ferriby boats are the earliest known sewn-plank boats in Europe. A big technological step from the dugout Hanson Log Boat.

The Dover boat  at the Dover Museum is sewn together. No nails.

1500 BC The Dover Bronze Age Boat, hewn from oak planks, wedged with hazelwood, moss, and sewn with yew withies, is the world's oldest known intact seagoing boat Yes, it's a large boat, it seated two abreast, but we don't know actually how long the boat was because modern buildings and roads were plunked atop it. It looks like a large modern sailboat with a central cleat-rail. However, the narrower Ferriby boats are older; Ferriby boat 3 dates back to 2030 BC—and they may have been seaworthy. The Dover boat navigated the English Channel, long before Tutankhamun became Pharaoh of Egypt. (The oldest intact boat, is the Khufu ship, built in ancient Egypt and was used in burial rituals).  —see The Dover Boat and its amazing rescue from mud and brine. And How significant is the Dover Bronze Age Boat?

1550 BC—to 300 BC The Phoenicians, the first to sail completely around Africa, (and to Cornwall and Ireland for tin). Now, that's ocean-going.

Egypt,1420 BC —Wiki
Egypt, 1250 BC —Wiki

1000 BC—Ocean-going Polynesians settled Oceania 3,000 years ago. Easter Island, NZ, Hawaii. They covered huge distances—repeatedly. And the Pacific Ocean ain't so pacific.

Nubia/Axum traded with India, ships from Northeast Africa sailed between India/Sri Lanka—no small distance.

Phoenician warship with two banks of oars, (definitely two decks) relief from Nineveh, ca. 700 BC —Wiki 

Ca. 700 - 500 BC—Then there were uniremes, biremes, used for Caesar's invasions of Britain; triremes and quadriremes. (Latin: triremis "with three banks of oars;" Ancient Greek: τριήρης triērēs, literally "three-rower") was a type of galley.
Herodotus mentions that the Egyptian pharaoh Necho II (610–595 BC) built triremes on the Nile, for service in the Mediterranean, and in the Red Sea, but this reference is disputed by modern historians, and attributed to a confusion, since "triērēs" was by the 5th century used in the generic sense of "warship", regardless its type. The first definite reference to the use of triremes in naval combat dates to ca. 525 BC...  —Wiki
Lenormant Relief from the Acropolis, depicts 54+ oarsmen on an Athenian aphract or trireme, ca. 410 BC; there would be 60 (if they were carrying horses), to 200 oarsmen, that's definitely a warship. —Wiki 

Trade routes from Greece to the Crimean and Sevastopol were not carried out in puddle-jumping rowboats, I guarantee. Sails were involved.

The world according to Herodotus, 440 BC. He didn't think Phoenicians sailed around Libya. —Wiki

ca. 325 BC—Greek navigator Pytheas sailed to Great Britain.

Greek navigator Eudoxus of Cyzicus in 118 BC, sailed a galley, a man-powered sailing vessel. With 300 Greek ships a year sailed between Roman Empire and India, annual trade 300,000 tons.

The Broighter boat an Iron Age Irish boat from 100 BC, had 18 oars and rowlocks—Wiki

The Irish Broighter boat is a gold model of an Iron Age Irish boat from 100 BC, replete with 18 golden oars, rowlocks, benches, a paddle rudder for steering, boathook, a yardarm, tools, and a mast for a sail. By contrast, there is little evidence of sails being used in Norway until 700 AD. The Norse word for a ship lung is borrowed from the Irish word long."

Broighter boat tools: 1.Boat hook 2.Mast yard 3.Steering oar 4.Small grappling iron 5.Forked implements 6.Square ended oars 7.Oars. —Wiki

ca. 400-700 AD— The Irish sailed (and settled) the Faroe Islands and Iceland BEFORE the Vikings—who followed them. Possibly sailed to the New World as well. Njal's Saga? Neil, the redheaded Irishman—with a temper.

Metal replica of original stone plaque (Wild Goose Studio, Kinsale, Co. Cork); there would've been a sail, and at least four more oarsmen. The Broighter boat had 18 oars.

ca. 500 AD—St Brendan the Navigator set sail on the Atlantic Ocean with 14, 16, or 60 men. Old Irish Immrama (from iomramh-voyage), are voyage tales. Celts had sailing ships long before the Vikings.

800 AD—Viking sailing knörr. Most Viking ships were 15 - 70 feet; earlier vessels seem to be burial boats but then they were not sailboats either. The masted Irish Broighter boat is a model of an Iron Age Irish sailboat from 100 BC.

1000-1300 AD—Viking longboats (warships). One of the biggest Viking ships was made in Ireland. Irish oak. Not Viking, but Norse-Irish.

1100 AD—Chinese junks sailing boats with a rudder (war and transport vessels).

1300 AD—Arabic sources describe New World visit by a Mali fleet in 1311.

This seemingly simple timeline took far longer to create than I care to admit. But then, I always use the rovings to learn something new.


Ship - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ancient Maritime History . Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Check this link out by vessel type at the Patrick Foundation (it has key texts and displays): CROSSING THE SEAS
Shipbuilding And Navigation - Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia
Ancient technology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mohenjo-daro - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pytheas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Who is this not so Fabio, and why are my knickers in such a twist? From what I can glean off the internet, this dude studied social anthropology at School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of Oxford and The King's School, Canterbury. It's not like he didn't have access to the facts supping at the grand halls of academe. Pah! He probably doesn't even know the meaning of his hometown name: Milan.


F.P.Barbieri said...

I notice however that nobody seems to take enough interest in you to comment.

Maureen Hurley said...

Well FP Barbieri,

I must admit I got a good bellylaugh from your snide comment, enough so, to deliberately publish it. Apparently for you, both sides of the bed, are the wrong side. Don't you have anything better to do? And your point is??? You don't like ship lists?

You're not exactly a prolific writer: On one blog of yours, you haven't made an entry since 2010, and in fact you only have ONE blog post, whereas I'm pushing 3000 blog posts. On another blog of yours, with only three blog posts total, abandoned in 2011, you have only 2 followers, and on your research blog you have no posts whatsoever with zero followers. Your lifetime writing achievement is four blog post total? Wow.

What makes you think that I write in order to get comments? I could care less. And clearly if you'd read some of my other posts, there are plenty of comments to choose from. Try my Viking posts for starters. And clearly well over 470,000 people seem to find something of value here. (I didn't have a counter for years, so it's probably closer to 100k hits.)

The reason why I have a blog is not a popularity contest, it's because I was losing a lot of my earlier writing (corrupted electronic format), and this is one way to ensure it stays accessible—to me. Not for trolls like you. You are not my audience. I also write in order to learn. And what significant contributions are you making to the world of writing? Other than stalking bloggers?