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boats and more boats...

Updated: Jul 3, 2020

Boats are an enduring theme in art from the very earliest civilisations to the present day.

From bronze age Sweden and Ireland to Ancient Greece the boat was the subject of story telling mythologies and religious ritual. Boats carried the dead across the Styx to Hades, carried the sun across the sky

and the ancient heroes to their destinies. The Argo takes Jason on his quest for the golden fleece and the lost ships of Odysseus maroon him on a seductive witch's island, the funeral ship of Sutton Hoo carried a king to Valhalla and the leather boat of St. Brendon carried him to America (maybe!).

Illustrations help unravel the development of boat design and explain the capacity of these vessels to interconnect the great civilisations of the world. And not just in Europe, there are similar myths and stories across the world ; in China and Japan, Micronesia, Central and South America.

Whether these parallel ideas evolved spontaneously or where the result of cultural interaction is always a good debate. Sailing a reed boat to S. America doesn't prove it is how that technology got there, just that the interaction could have taken place. Imagine the African navigator arrival in the Americas and finding the same type of vessel there, I doubt he would have been very surprised, it was normal for him.

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