fbpx
Don't Forget to Visit our Shop!
logo (3) (1)
An archaeologist examines how the ancient vessels keel was put together

Ancient Egypt: This Discovery Proves That Herodotus Didn’t Lie

A sunken ship found in the Nile river may have lain undisturbed for over 2,500 years, but now it is finally ponying up its secrets. Scientists think that this ship has revealed a structure whose existence has been debated for centuries. In fragment 2.96 of Herodotus’ Histories, published around 450 BCE, the Ancient Greek historian – who was writing about his trip to Egypt – describes a type of Nile cargo boat called a baris.

According to his portrayal, it was constructed like brickwork, lined with papyrus, and with a rudder that passed through a hole in the keel. This steering system had been seen in representations and models through the Pharaonic period – but we had no firm archaeological evidence of its existence until now.

Enter Ship 17, of the now-sunken port city Thonis-Heracleion near the Canopic Mouth of the Nile, dated to the Late Period, 664-332 BCE. Here, researchers have been exploring over 70 shipwrecks, discovering countless artifacts that reveal stunning details about the ancient trade hub and its culture.

Although it’s been in the water for at least 2,000 years, the preservation of Ship 17 has been exceptional. Archaeologists were able to uncover 70 percent of the hull.

“It wasn’t until we discovered this wreck that we realized Herodotus was right,” archaeologist Damian Robinson of The Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology told The Guardian.

The ship displays several elements noted by Herodotus.

“The joints of the planking of Ship 17 are staggered in a way that gives it the appearance of ‘courses of bricks’, as described by Herodotus,” wrote archaeologist Alexander Belov of the Centre for Egyptological Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in a 2013 paper.

“The planking of Ship 17 is assembled transversally by remarkably long tenons that can reach 1.99 m in length and that pass through up to 11 strakes. These tenons correspond to the ‘long and close-set stakes’ in Herodotus’ narrative… Herodotus also mentions the baris’ keel, and Ship 17 has a keel that is twice as thick as the planking and projects inside the hull.”

There are some inconsistencies – the vessel Herodotus describes had shorter tenons, which acted like ribs holding together the acacia planks of the hull; and Herodotus’ baris didn’t have reinforcing frames, where Ship 17 had several.

Both of these can be explained if Ship 17, around 27 meters long, is bigger than Herodotus’ baris.

“Herodotus describes the boats as having long internal ribs. Nobody really knew what that meant… That structure’s never been seen archaeologically before,” Robinson said.

“Then we discovered this form of construction on this particular boat and it absolutely is what Herodotus has been saying.”

And, of course, there’s that splendid rudder, which is threaded through two holes in the stern. Placed one in front of the other, these holes seem to have allowed for better steering depending on whether the ship is loaded with cargo.

According to these detailed findings, researchers believe that Ship 17 is so close to Herodotus’ description that it could have been built in the same shipyard.

Belov’s exploration of the ship’s construction has been published in a monograph by the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology, Ship 17: a baris from Thonis-Heracleion.

By Michelle Starr for Science Alert

Most of the platforms that we are using are against us. They don’t like to see Africans spread the truth about their history. They censor us, ban us and limit our activity in order to stop the message from spreading. And when it happens, we are completely stuck, we are not able to work or reach you anymore. Last time that it happened was really painful. They completely blocked the page, we could not even communicate and tell you what was happening. Many people thought that we gave up, while we actually were in prison. That’s why we decided as a preventive measure, to protect ourselves and use this system. It will allow us to keep our freedom of speech & to communicate even when these platforms block us. By subscribing, you will join our secret platform where they won’t be able to stop us anymore.

[mailpoet_form id=”3″]

Sourcefile-Android-Mobile

Get the full Experience

Download our App

With our free app, you will have access to posts that are not available on other platforms, and you will be able to meet and chat with the members of our big community. Choose your platform and enjoy.

Stay In Browser

stay in browser

Sourcefile-Android-Mobile

Get the full Experience

Download our App

With our free app, you will have access
to posts that are not available on other platforms, and you will be able to meet and chat with the members of our big community.
Choose your platform and enjoy.

Stay In Browser

Get the full Experience

Download our App

With our free app, you will have
access to posts that aren’t available
on other platforms, and you will be
able to meet and chat with
members of our big community.
Choose your platform and enjoy. 

Stay In Browser

My Example

Open a popup window

feature