Introduction of ships history
From the dawn of civilization, the sea has held a fascination for humankind. Over the centuries, men have sought to navigate the seas with a myriad ofships and sailing craft for an equally diverse range of purposes. Ships, even in the earliest days, could carry cargos farther and faster than any type of overland transport.
Long before the Iron Age, when Northern Europeans were building simple plank boats that were suitable for use on rivers and lakes, the pharaohs of
Egypt were building sophisticated ships able to operate in the open waters of the Mediterranean.
From this period two distinct types of ships evolved, with cargo vessels possessing hull forms designed for carrying capacity while warships developed as fast, maneuverable fighting platforms able to mount and use a range of weapons.
The vessels of the Bronze Age were limited in their abilities, but by about 700BC the Greeks, copying and improving upon Phoenician designs, had developed fast, rowed fighting ships with several banks of oars. This was typical of the type of fighting ship that fought at
(480BC) and remained the standard type for a long time after the end of the Peloponnesian War (431-404BC). Manned by large crews, oarsmen were able to propel these agile vessels at high speed under favorable conditions. It would be centuries before sailing ships could reach such speeds over short distances. Salamis
Naval battle tactics were developed in this period, notably by the Greek admiral Phormio in 400BC, whose skill enabled him to defeat superior forces.
Though Roman merchant ships had sailed the
Mediterranean since the beginning of the third century BC, the Romans were traders by sea, not fighters. While the Roman
Legions demonstrated the Roman mastery of warfare on land, the development of a fighting navy had been neglected.
Although the Romans were originally defeated they soon perfected their tactics, developing the boarding bridge, which enabled their soldiers to storm onto the decks of the Carthaginian vessels.
For the best part of a millenium, there was ljttle development in shipbuilding in the
Mediterranean, where the lateen rig held sway. Tills had been copied from tlle Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean, where it was used by Arab traders because it had good sailing qualities, especially in coastal waters.
Such a rig, however, was not suitable for long ocean voyages where the fore and aft rig gave a better performance.
With the end of Roman sea power in the Mediterranean tile development of shipbuilding underwent further changes, especially in northern waters. From the nintll to tile eleventh centuries, tile exploits of Viking raiders began to have an effect upon surrounding countries that had no navies of any importance but relied mostly upon their armies for defense.