Boats and Ships of the Bronze Age Seattle Yachts
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Boats and Ships of the Bronze Age

Written By: Peter Whiting

During the Bronze Age, boating technology advanced rapidly, and these advances had a big impact on world history. Boats were sturdier and more efficient. Better boats allowed traders to go farther from their homes. This led to more trade with faraway places. Trading routes were established throughout the waterways of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Suddenly, spices, gold, wine, olives, and pottery were being shipped from continent to continent. Although the era is called the Bronze Age and bronze was certainly prized, not all advances depended on bronze. Boats of this era were made of a variety of materials depending on the region where the boat was made.

Atlantic Europe

The Atlantic Bronze Age was a time of cultural and trade exchanges between societies from Scotland down to Portugal. Not only was the shipping industry born, but advances in boat-building and the resulting cultural exchange led to improvements in the designs of shields, swords, and clifftop fortifications.

Mediterranean Boats

The Bronze Age boats of the Mediterranean were also made of wooden planks held together with wooden pegs and joints. The hulls were typically built first, and many modern historians believe these boats were made without frames. At the beginning of the Bronze Age, the boats were paddled. The more efficient method of rowing became common practice as the age progressed. The invention of steering oars, which were strapped to the hull, also helped popularize rowing as the preferred method of powering these ships.

More Bronze Age Boats

During the Bronze Age, the technology for boating and shipping in Asia also advanced rapidly. However, there is less surviving evidence for how these boats looked, how they were built, and how they operated. Historians do know that by the start of the Iron Age, China had sound, advanced boats for purposes of war and trade. Some historians believe the Chinese were using sails by around 1,200 B.C.E., but there is little concrete evidence to support these beliefs.

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