Ep. 005 – Meanwhile, In Egypt…

Thanks for tuning in to this fifth episode of the Maritime History Podcast, our first episode to zoom in on ancient Egypt. In this episode we'll focus mainly on the predynastic depictions of papyrus boats, wooden boats, the earliest depictions of the sail, and several rock petroglyphs that are quite significant to historical interpretations. Then, we'll consider a theory that has connected ancient Egypt with ancient Mesopotamia. We'll conclude by looking at a magnificent discovery at Abydos where some of the oldest wooden planked boats to have ever been found were buried in their own graves in the Egyptian desert. It's a great episode, and it's only scratching the surface of what we'll encounter as we consider maritime history in ancient Egypt.

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  • Breasted, James Henry, The Earliest Boats on the Nile, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 4, No. 2/3 (Apr.  – Jul., 1917), pp. 174–176.
  • Dagger from Gebel el-Arak, Predynastic Egypt, Louvre. [link]
  • Decorated vase, Predynastic Egypt, Brooklyn Museum. [link]
  • Decorated Ware Jar Depicting Ungulates and Boats with Human Figures, Predynastic Egypt, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [link]
  • Herodotus, The Histories, (Macaulay's English translation, republished 2004).
  • Jar with boat designs, Predynastic Egypt, Brooklyn Museum. [link]
  • McGrail, Seán, Boats of the World: From the Stone Age to Medieval Times (2009).
  • New York University, After 5,000 Year Voyage, World's Oldest Built Boats Deliver -- Archaeologists' First Look Confirms Existence Of Earliest Royal Boats At Abydos, ScienceDaily, 2 November 2000. [link]
  • Qustul Incense Burner, Nubia, The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. [link]
  • Sailing ship jar, Naqada II, Egypt, The British Museum. [link]
  • Storemyr, Per, The Palaeolithic rock art in Wadi Abu Subeira, Egypt: Landscape, archaeology, threats and conservation, Per Storemyr Archaeology & Conservation, 1 May 2012. [link]
  • Vinson, Steve, Boats (Use of), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Los Angeles (2013).
  • Ward, Cheryl, Boat-building and its social context in early Egypt: interpretations from the First Dynasty boat-grave cemetery at Abydos, Antiquity, Vol. 80 (2006), pp. 118–129. [link]
  • Wilford, John Noble, Early Pharaohs' Ghostly Fleet; Archaeologists Excavate Boats That Carried Kings to the Afterlife, N.Y. Times (Oct. 31, 2000). [link]

  4 comments for “Ep. 005 – Meanwhile, In Egypt…

  1. Paula Wintz
    December 16, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    The podcast says that the incense burner of Qustul depicts a seated figure wearing the white crown. However when you look at the actual incense burner fragments there is no seated figure. A missing fragment that was never recovered is claimed by Bruce Williams of the Oriental Institute to have shown a seated figure. What appears on the incense burner is a shape he claims is the white crown but it is speculation. The shape is on a 45 degree angle which would be unusual for someone wearing the crown and if a figure was seated below it the figure would have to be of a child’s proportion to fit. It may be a white crown it may not be. It is a simple shape unlike the more distinctive red crown on other art. Below that fragment with that shape on it is a big gap, the location of the unfound missing fragment.
    The yellow illustration from the Oriental Institute represents what is on the incense burner along with Bruce Williams conjecture that there is a seated figure there. You can see a line of demarcation in the illustration. What is claimed to be a falcon is similarly unclear. A bull and other figures are clear though.
    It’s a misleading presentation from the Oriental Institute because they don’t make clear what is actual and what is guessed clear in the illustration. It takes a while to understand and notice the demarcation line and recognize it is a demarcation line not a line like the other lines.

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