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Title: Sailing rock art boats : a reassessment of seafaring abilities in Bronze Age Scandinavia and the introduction of the sail in the North
Author: Bengtsson, Boel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 6750
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines the basis for the current belief that the introduction of the sail in the North occurred between the 7th or 8th and the 10th centuries AD, almost a thousand years later than on the British Islands and almost 3000 years later than in the Mediterranean. The foundations for this reassessment of the potential timing and development in the use of the sail derives mainly from an examination of the Bronze Age rock art (1800–500 BC) in southern Scandinavia containing imagery of boats with attributes that can be interpreted as masts and sails. In combination with experimental sail trials in Bronze Age type boats and by comparing this material to available research on the transition from paddling to sailing in ancient Egypt and Oceania, the author argues that the use of sail as a complement to paddling would have formed an integral part of the formation of centres of power in Scandinavia in the early Bronze Age. This in turn would have permitted more frequent communication, helping to expand, maintain and control power. The transitions from downwind sailing abilities to abilities to sail within a wider range might have occurred relatively swiftly between c. 1550–1300 BC, and might be directly linked to the expansion of Scandinavian centres of power during the same period, allowing for increased flexibility, both in terms of manpower, range and choice of routes with the use of a wider range of weather conditions. The emergence of the sail would primarily have been driven by increased needs for the movement of people and goods across short medium- and long distances – a process where competition by rivalling chiefs might also have played part. Furthermore, it is here suggested that the developments in sail and boat technology in the North were the result of incremental and gradual changes that eventually resulted in the boats and sails as used in the Viking Era.
Supervisor: Adams, Jonathan ; Champion, Timothy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available