by Yaroslav RENKAS, Cand. Sc. (Hist.)
It was millennia ago that our forefathers started parting with terra firma and ventured out into the deep blue sea. In doing so they used, first, rafts, then boats and then ships of different shapes and sizes. And these early seafarers were naturally bound to lose sight of the native shore. When this happened, how were they able to find their way home and sometimes navigate for hundreds of miles on the high seas?
The answers to these and other related questions are offered in a recently published book by an expert in the field-retired naval officer and Candidate of Sciences, Vladimir Krasnov. His book on "The History of Navigation Techniques: Birth and Development of Technical Means of Navigations" (M., Nauka, 2001,309 pp.) is addressed to the broad reading public.
The author begins by describing a whole range of related archeological finds, including excavations by a team of US scientists in 1971. And it has now been proved that seafaring in the proper sense of the word is not 6,000 years old, as was commonly believed before, but about 10,000 years. In other words, scholars have "moved back" its birthday by the middle or the end of the New Stone Age (neolithic).
And it all began in a very ordinary and undramatic way. Leaving the safety of their huts and caves, primitive tribes settled, as a rule, in places where there was more water and food-along rivers, near lakes and on the seacoast. And it was only natural for these settlers, motivated by hunger and/or curiosity, to try and cross a river, or gulf, and see what's there on the opposite bank, or that island on the horizon.
The author describes in intriguing details different kinds of floating gear invented and used by primitive tribes at different periods, starting from floats made of reed or trees branches. These were later replaced with boats, made of bark and covered with skins, or hollow tree trunks. Later on tribes in the Mediterranean started making boa ... Read more