Herodotus Boats: Unsunk

grarpamp grarpamp at gmail.com
Mon Mar 18 13:38:47 PDT 2019


Herodotus, Book II, 96. The boats in which they carry cargo are made
of the acacia, which is in form most like to the lotus of Cyrene, and
its sap is gum. Of this tree they cut logs of two cubits length and
lay them like courses of bricks, and build the boat by making these
two‑cubit logs fast to long and close‑set stakes; and having so built
they set crossbeams athwart and on the logs. They use no ribs. They
caulk the seams within with byblus. There is one rudder, passing
through a hole in the boat's keel. The mast is of acacia-wood and the
sails of byblus. These boats cannot move upstream unless a brisk
breeze continue; they are towed from the bank; but downstream they are
thus managed: they have a raft made of tamarisk wood, fastened
together with matting of reeds, and a pierced stone of about two
talents' weight; the raft is let go to float down ahead of the boat,
made fast to it by a rope, and the stone is made fast also by a rope
to the after part of the boat. So, driven by the current, the raft
floats swiftly and tows the "baris" (which is the name of these boats)
, and the stone dragging behind on the river bottom keeps the boat's
course straight. There are many of these boats; some are of many
thousand talents' burden.

Ship 17: a baris from Thonis-Heracleion
(Ships and boats of the Canopic Region 1;
Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monograph 10)
Alexander Belov
A detailed analysis of the construction of ship 17, a Late Period
vessel discovered by Franck Goddio and a team from the Institut
Européen d’Archéologie Sous-Marine during underwater excavations at
Thonis-Heracleion, a sunken city in Aboukir bay, Egypt.  Drawing upon
Herodotus’ description of boat-building, the author concludes that
ship 17 is a baris-boat and highlights its specifically Egyptian
method of assembly.
ISBN: 9781905905362

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