Ship builders and cultural cargo

Ship builders and cultural cargo

Maybe the Nordic traders took relatively light merchandises as cargo. It may have been skin, hides, fur, resin, Baltic amber, dry-fish, wool, honey and such things they produced or took out of the big forests and the good fishing waters. With such thing they were able to pay their journey and get something back

Time-boat, ritual ship, flock, village, journey, hird, folk, folkland, early shipbuilders, Valderøy ship, Ferriby ship, world's oldest boat, clink-build, sewn boards, tap-hole, resin cake, cat, hen, catch octopus, traders

Ritual boats | Sailors in spacetime | Mediterranean | Culture as cargo 1 | Culture as cargo 2 | Sumerian heritage |Sumerian astronomy | Early Animal round | Inanna myth |Egyptian calendar | Egyptian night sky |Isis myth |Time law ideas| Follow in suite |Cist period | Lingua Franca | Iconography | Indus symbols | Indus symbols | Indus in Idaho | Symbols in Idaho | home | sitemap |Broncze Age dresses and priestesses

In this article I mention some of the things they brought home as we see it from the rocks or artefacts. Rare fruit, textiles, salt and other vanishing products leave no track.

Domesticated animals, seed and other plants were imported and with them the instruction in shape of some myth easy to understand and remember. Some special tools and machinery was also import.

On the rocks we see clearly that the ard (plough) was brought from different places as far as Egypt. They surely tried to develop it and Scandinavia was early producer of Iron so maybe they made a shoe for the plough and they could of course always take raw iron as cargo too.

The heavy wheel came early in fourth millenium to Poland and Denmark too. On the rocks we see pictures of the heavy four-wheel wagon with cows or oxen as draught animals. The light wagon for male pride and horses were brought in the middle of Bronze Age. In Denmark they have recently discovered stony roads that may have been useable for male riders.

 … the spiral usually express the IN or OUT situation. In this case it could also mean the ram horns of Aries and then spring equinox in Aries. The cargo on the ships at the rock-carvings may time-symbols as well as real things. They often decorate the stern and stem and sometimes it tells "to and fro" but not always. The tail-looking thing should rather be the front-mark on the ship but the oar seems to be an oar. On some ships there are paddling crew and they normally are having their back against the travel direction.

The Time boat need not be drawn perfectly, even when we expect well-drawn figures. However it may be a sign when they draw them only schematic, which shows that they were used as symbols. At least on Dal and nearby Skepplanda they systematically draw the winter-ships with double lines and a ship with three lines should be an abstract boat up to the logic of symbolising.

They call this the Raurby-type after a find of a sword with this decoration that can be dated to ca 1700 BC.

This figure is a ritual-ship from the Simris fields in Skaane and nearby on the rock is also a horse telling that it was known at that time. It tells also that the horse may have been sun-symbol at the time.

Naturally we have also to ask if they build ships for a dozen men at that time? This is the very current type in general and it is easy to see the shape in the Hjortspring-ship from 300 BC.

Thumb-rules of Vikings

To get the proportions of those days we have to look at known data from 1000 - 1300 AD. Snorre Sturlasson the Icelandic early writer tells us a lot. In Advice to Poets verse 66 he tells that 5 men is a flock, 6 is a suite, 7 is a village (furnishing a boat). Maybe they counted 6 men on the rowing oars and one with the steering oar. "Toft" was the bench with two and on a boat all were equal. Later in Sweden the village or "socken" became 10 farms building a church according to the law.

The double number 14 was a journey and then maybe meaning 6 men in pair at the oars, one at the steering oar and one as look-out. In the boat-team they were all equal … maybe it is significant that there is no difference in the word law and team in Scandinavian. In Swedish "lag and lag" and in Danish "lav and lav" pronounced "law". Later units were surely meant as military units with ships of the size for 24 and 36 men and a significant name was "Long Worm"

Snorre Sturlasson told that this size was normal for travel and one or two settlement could furnish such a boat. They could take about 50 ton as cargo and rowing speed lies between 40 and 60 miles a day, I think. In the Indian Ocean they still say with the same type of vessels with triangular sails they have used for thousands of years.

In the hird (court) of Olaf the Holly there were 64 noble men, but the normal was 40. The Danish king Nils was not popular since he kept only 7 in his suite. That about nobility and the sailing people whether it was in trade or other affairs. A folk (fylke) was 50 (adults) and an army was 100 men … for instance in 1275 AD the usurpator duke Magnus hired 100 Danish knight in harness and fought king Valdemar's army counting mostly peasants.

With this in mind we can look at the big ships in the rock-carvings and ask if they were real. That is why I suppose some of theme has been counting the population and other are maybe time-counting and periods of time.

The province laws tell about 16 weeks season for sailing. The principle may be very old. Perhaps the folkland furnished a big ship for tour and it was managed in common. Fellowship is an old concept in the Anglo-Scandinavian world.

The runic stones in West Gautland and on Jutland tell about companions from both landscapes with similar stones in both places. The law of Magnus Lagabauter 1271 state how much supplies were needed for a month. The entire farming at least on the king's farms were calculated in this way. Here on Dal they follow the thumb rules too, which meant how much they should sow for a normal family. The rulers may differ a little between landscapes but surely we can see it as the praxis.

Early shipbuilders

Rock-carvings from the Vestland in Norway

In our wet climate few time of wood and organic material are spared to our time. Some paddle and piece of wood is the only things with an age of around 10000 years such as the paddle from Duvense and a younger find from Ertebølle 4700 BC ... but the underwater archaeology in Danish waters maybe will bring new evidence in this time span.

The find of the Valderøy ship Sunmøre Norway are from 1300 BC and tell a little out their technique. The boat has been clink-build with sewn boards and tap-holes. The tightening was surely made of bog moss and resin.

In this case the interest is about boats suitable for the North Sea and Atlantic. We know that at least the Danes bartered with the British to get tin and maybe copper. We also know that there was maybe a gold trade from Ireland to Norfolk. They usually mention amber, as bartering goods but the finds seems to be few. But the variety of goods was probably much bigger than we can imagine and it is better not to speculate. The size of the ships and the Scandinavian rock carvings tell about the wide trade.

Then another find of interest is three Ferriby ships from North Ferriby, Yorkshire. The first find made by 13 year old Ted Wright in 1937 but another in 1963 is the oldest. It is 52 ft long made from huge oak planks sewn together with twisted yew branches. It had room for 18 paddlers and possibly a mast.

New dating techniques have revealed that ancient timber for the plank boat of 1963 is the oldest plank found in Western Europe. Similar boats may have carried stone slabs from Wales to England during the construction of Stonehenge. The 1963 boat has been dated to 2030 BC-1780 BC, with the most likely date 1900 BC. The others are a few hundred years later.

After I wrote that there have been new find and dating showing that we have to be careful in announce "oldest in the world". Now a British team has found the "worlds oldest boat" as bitumen pieces, dating from 5,000 BC, are indented on one side by impressions of reeds and encrusted with barnacles on the other. The team, led by Robert Carter, from University College London, made the discovery while unearthing a Neolithic human settlement at Subiya, on the northern shore of Kuwait Bay, at the top of the Gulf. The find indicates that they made boats suitable for the Indian Ocean at that time. Now we have a suitable very far date for "the oldest".

We can not rely on Sumerian legends about history when archaeology gives us more precise development. Early written sagas should not be taken literally. They recorded the events without timeline.

Other finds lately 2002 - 2003 have shown that maybe we in future have to alter the timeline about cities. Jericho was a small town and Catal Hüyük bigger but not yet excavated only a little bit. Then there is Gobeklii Tepe not far from that near the Syrian border dated to 9th to 7th millennium BC and maybe older than Catal Hüyük. In the Gulf of Cambay off Gujarat in India they think they have found underwater remains after a city from 7500 BC.

Future can bring us more remains from places were seas or rivers have eaten ancient cities. Ancient cities were often rebuilt over former cities so maybe archaeology brings more cases like Troy. I have studied ancient ideas tied to ritual astronomy dated by precession and the first used fix-stars in the Animal Round. The core is just as the definition of civilise and civilisation. It is about how mankind learnt to follow in suite.

In my childhood without TV there was somewhat romantic about sailors and especially about the brave fishermen at the North Seas. The pictures of fishermen saving people in their open boats stayed for long in the mind. The boats were of the same type as the about 2000-year old Nydam boat. It is extremely seaworthy on it is like a piece of bark when they hold it against the waves.

In the sixties I made a trip from Zealand to Jutland. It was a stormy trip and much of the passengers were invisible somewhere in hide. I sat in the saloon and looked out and saw and saw not the fishing boats since they disappeared out of sight in the dales. That kind of boats have been developed during thousands of years just for Nordic waters.

The oldest find in Scandinavia is so far from Valderøy ship 1300 BC and it tell a little about their technique. The boat has been clink-build with sewn boards and tap-holes. The tightening was surely made of bog moss and resin since we have find of that as trading goods.

The bronze founders used also resin and in Denmark there were no pine forests and in general the woods diminished with time.

The resin-cake in the finds has usually the diameter 20 centimetres and there are several finds. The biggest contends of 14 cakes.

They used surely many types of vessels and they made them as big as needed but fitting the conditions in their waters. Surely they calculated for how much supplies they needed, since they could not rely on buying or robbing along the route. They needed space for their merchandises and choose them to fit their possibilities. It was also clever strategy to be several ships on the journey out of many reasons.

The Danish archaeologist S Nancke-Krogh suggests that the early ship were build on a keel on which they build the side boards. Usual they suggest skin coating but these pictures tell about frames and possible boards. Our imagination is usually limited to the finds. Our rock carvings show that they used ships of this kind "already then", i.e. at the time of the Ferriby finds. 

Finds of chisels we have from third millennium and then suggesting they could do fine work and use taping. Even in the big Egyptian king ships the boards are sewn together (here again a reminder of the Egyptian ships on Norwegian rocks). For making boards they needed both the broad axe and the cross-axe. Maybe some of the shapes in bronze were meant for this? Such tools are still in use for those specialised in boat building and making blockhouses.

Another possibility from the Pacific is that maybe they clink-build the ship and covered it with skin. With the clink-build type came the problem of tightening. Some kinds of moss were suitable as the mass and resin was the glue and final tightening. Resin was also used in all kinds of fine work as glue.

In Denmark the forests were soon used and they needed to trade in the Northern Scandinavia just for resin. They had no pine either so maybe Bohuslaen early became a place for shipbuilding and sailors.

As always one problem create soon another. "Navigare necessare est" the Romans said and they were soon dependable on trade an import to the big city Rome. Italy could soon not feed the nobility

This is my favourite example of import. The Egyptian idea of bronze sickle has been brought the East Gautland. Was it a real sickle or just the idea? Up to my knowledge there are no finds of the real thing … yet. The Egyptian to the left.

 …The Cat is surely from Egypt too … but when? And when did the tail-less cat come to Zealand and Manx? …from Where? And maybe the hen came at the same time.

The domesticated animals could have been driven at least to Denmark. However all animals were small so it was possible to have a few on board. Since the rock-carvings are in Bohuslaen or East Gautland a boat has been necessary at least the last bit of the journey.

Here I suggest they brought the idea how to catch the occtopus.

They are still using the method in the Mediterranean. They fasten pots on the long-line and offer the octopus a nest. There is a hole in the bottom and they pour a little of extra salt water in the hole and the octopus flees the pot.

These rock-carvings are from the Danish isle Bornholm in the Baltic seas. They were early skilled in making thin plate in bronze and gold. That skill they must have learnt in Greece. Many of the ships in their rock-carvings are of the Greek type. No doubt they have been in Greece.

We cannot for sure say if the traders came from south or if our traders went to the Mediterranean, but does it matter? We can for sure say that there were influences and that Scandinavia was part of the Old World.