Cover image for Boats of the world : from the Stone Age to Medieval times
Boats of the world : from the Stone Age to Medieval times
McGrail, Sean.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
xiii, 480 pages : illustrations, maps ; 29 cm
Sources and themes -- Egypt -- Arabia -- The Mediterranean -- Atlantic Europe -- India -- Greater Australia -- South-east Asia -- Oceania -- China -- The Americas -- Early water transport.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
VM16 .M25 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Maritime archaeology, the study of man's early encounter with the rivers and seas of the world, only came to the fore in the last decades of the twentieth century, long after its parent discipline, terrestrial archaeology, had been established. Yet there were seamen long before there werefarmers, navigators before there were potters, and boatbuilders before there were wainwrights. In this book Professor McGrail attempts to correct some of the imbalance in our knowledge of the past by presenting the evidence for the building and use of early water transport: rafts, boats, and ships.Professor McGrail presents a history of water transport as it has developed over millennia, from before 40,000 BC to the mid-second millennium AD. The coverage is world-wide: from the Baltic and North Seas to the Bay of Bengal and the Tasman Sea; and from the Gulf of Mexico to the China Seas and theBaring Strait.

Author Notes

Sean McGrail was in the Royal Navy from 1946 to 1968 and is a Master Mariner. He is also currently visiting Professor in the Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton, carries out fieldwork in South Asia for the Society for South Asian Studies (British Academy), and was formerlyProfessor of Maritime Archaeology, University of Oxford.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This is a remarkable tour de force on watercraft through history. Assembled by a recognized expert in boat and ship archaeology, the book is filled with detail, arranged chronologically within geographic areas. The regions studied include Arabia, India, Oceania, and Asia in addition to better-known areas. The time frame varies, but McGrail (Univ. of Southampton) presents the earliest information available for a region and continues until good descriptive material becomes available. The vessels in many cases are probably mundane, everyday workboats that do not appear in written materials except by name. Consequently, archaeological examples are presented. There is a very good discussion of archaeological sources and how they are interpreted. The text reads well, is well illustrated, and has good references for initiating additional research. Every maritime historian must have a copy of this book for both immediate reference and research. This text can serve as the ideal baseline for maritime history and ship construction courses. Given the illustrations and depth of coverage, this book would be cheap at twice the price. L. E. Babits East Carolina University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Lists of Tables
Conventions used in the text
1 Sources and Themes
2 Egypt
3 Arabia
4 The Mediterranean
5 Atlantic Europe
6 India, (sample section)
6.1 The Neolithic and Bronze Ages
6.1 The Iron Age
6.1 Graeco-Roman trade with India
6.1 Seafaring in the Bay of Bengal (first-eight centuries AD)
6.1 Medieval European contacts with India
6.1 Planked boats and ships up to the twentieth century
6.1 Medieval and later navigational techniques
7 Greater Australia
8 South-East Asia
9 Oceania
10 China
11 The Americas
12 Early Water Transport