Part II. Means: The Types and Availabilities of Watercraft and Navigation
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II Means The Types and Availabilities of Watercraft and Navigation The means employed determine the nature of the ends met. —Aldous Huxley, 1937 In part II, we turn to the means that would have been required to effect ancient ocean crossings: watercraft and navigation. In his 1994 A History of Working Watercraft of the West­ ern World, Thomas Gillmer contended that, with a very few exceptions, “archaeologists, by the very nature of their discipline, are confined to the activity of land-­ based inhabitants. They do not understand well the workings of a ship or the ways of the sea.”1 Indeed, the quite specialized nature of maritime travel has very much limited most scholars’ understandings of the relevant issues and has, in fact, led to the emergence of a number of major misconceptions about watercraft, sailing, and navigation, misconceptions that have sometimes seriously hindered reconstructions of the past. Here, we question standard suppositions such as the one that the journalist Simon Winchester repeated in his 2010 book Atlantic: “It took an inordinately long time for anyone to cross the ocean. It was to remain a barrier of water, terrifying and impassible , for tens of thousands of years.”2 ...