It didn't sink! Full-size, sewn-together replica of a Bronze Age boat launched to trials success
David Keys has been The Independent’s Archaeology Correspondent since the paper started in 1986. He has worked in journalism (staff and freelance; newspapers, magazines, radio and TV) for 45 years - and has specialized successively in home affairs (1970s), foreign affairs, aviation and international trade (1970/80s) and archaeology/history (after 1986). He has visited more than a thousand archaeological and historical sites in 60 countries – and, over recent years has originated and/or acted as consultant on 40 archaeology/history TV documentaries. He also writes on modern history – producing detailed studies (more than 70 so far) of the long-term causes of the world’s current conflicts and crises. His major book - Catastrophe, an Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World - explores the relationship between climatic problems and history. A new edition is about to be published on kindle – and will include major new revelations about how modern climate change is likely to impact the world economically and politically. www.davidkeys.co.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 06 March 2013
For the first time in almost 3000 years – a full size Bronze Age style sea-going boat has been launched in Britain. Slipping gracefully down a slipway today into Falmouth Harbour, Cornwall, the 15m-long vessel was then paddled by its 18 person crew for two 500m trial trips.
The launch – part of a long-term experimental archaeology investigation into Bronze Age marine technology – is already providing valuable new insights into prehistoric seafaring.
“I’m so happy with the responsiveness of the boat. We always said you had to build the whole boat to understand what Bronze Age people experienced,” said the project’s leader, University of Exeter archaeologist, Professor Robert Van de Noort, who is working together with the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.
“When I was steering the boat and it got up to speed, I could turn her easily and it was more seaworthy than I expected. We have learnt so much through the whole process and today’s launch has revolutionised everything we knew,” said the professor.
“There have been doubters, professionally, who questioned the feasibility of this vessel crossing the seas. This morning’s experiment strongly suggests that it was capable of doing so,” he said.
Andy Wyke, Boat Collection Manager at the Maritime Museum, said: “It has been incredible to see this whole project take shape in the Museum building over the past 11 months. Volunteers have poured everything into transforming three oak trees into what we have seen and achieved today.”
The vessel – based on ones excavated at Ferriby on the north bank of the Humber estuary in 1963 – will need a crew of 18 to 20 relatively muscular individuals to get her to operate at full power. The replica Bronze Age craft has been built, mainly by volunteers, under the direction of professional shipwright, Brian Cumby, at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth – in collaboration with prehistorian Professor Van de Noort. The project has been funded predominantly by a £177,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
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