By Gregory P. Gilbert
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Extra resources for Ancient Egyptian sea power and the origin of maritime forces
73 During the early Old Kingdom, travelling ships had a removable bipod (or derrick) mast with a single trapezoid sail, (longer at the top than the bottom), positioned forward of centre at approximately one third the length of the vessel. The double mast and trapezoid sail were required to spread the weight of the mast upon the lower hull timbers and to avoid the central shelf that formed the ship’s deck. Towards the end of the Old Kingdom, single masts with rectangular sails were more common; by the Middle Kingdom, single masts with rectangular sails had replaced the earlier forms.
Fill a boat with all the beautiful girls of your palace. Your majesty’s heart will be refreshed by seeing them row, a rowing up and down. ’ Said his majesty: ‘Indeed, I shall go boating! Let there be brought to me twenty oars of ebony plated with gold, their handles of sandlewood plated with electrum. Let their be brought to me twenty women with shapeliest bodies, breasts, and braids, who have not yet given birth. 65 The tale of King Sneferu’s boating trip reveals the lighter side of Egyptian maritime activities.
They undergo severe labour rowing, poling, and towing, but are very cheerful; and often the most so when they are most occupied, for then they frequently amuse themselves by singing. In consequence of the continual changes which take place in the bed of the Nile, the most experienced pilot is liable frequently to run his vessel aground; on such an occurrence, it is often necessary for the crew to descend into the water to shove the boat off with their backs and shoulders. 42 Modern Nile boatmen are not much different from those of the early 19th century; they have great strength and endurance, and their knowledge of local nautical conditions match their intelligence and other worldliness.
Ancient Egyptian sea power and the origin of maritime forces by Gregory P. Gilbert