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Title: Maritime technological change in the ancient Mediterranean : the invention of the lateen sail
Author: Whitewright, Richard Julian
ISNI:       0000 0001 3567 3668
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2008
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The earliest evidence for the sail in the Mediterranean dates to c.3100 BC and indicates that vessels were rigged with a square-sail. From this point until the late-antique period the square-sail remained the principal sailing rig of the Mediterranean. A new form of sailing rig, the lateen, began to be utilised amongst Mediterranean mariners from at least the 2nd century AD and became widespread from the 5th century AD. The rapid pace of technological change during the late-antique period followed a long period of relative technological stability and has traditionally been explained via a logical progression of technology. This has imposed upon their users a 'need' to improve the windward performance of ancient sailing vessels. Such a progression has also been seen as providing the mechanism, viewed through changes to geometric sail shape, for the unilinear evolution of the modern, western sailing rig. This explanation of maritime technological change is now outdated and unsustainable, both in terms of modern theories of technological change and the available evidence on the specific subject of the lateen sail. Despite this, it is still widely accepted within maritime studies of the ancient world. By investigating the fine detail of all of the constituent parts of a sailing rig, rather than simply the sail shape, it is possible to view sailing rigs as a series of related, component parts. Acknowledgement of the importance of the technical practice used to operate a sailing rig underlines the importance of the ancient mariner in determining the nature of maritime technology. By relating a detailed understanding of maritime technology to the broader context of the ancient world, this study sets out to challenge, dismantle and replace outdated theories regarding the introduction and adoption of the lateen sail in the ancient Mediterranean.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available