Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 67

ship - Measuring ships, Propulsion, General terminology, Some types of ships and boats

mounted sail oars stern

A sea-going vessel of considerable size. The Egyptians built river boats around 3000 BC, but at the time of Queen Hatshepsut (c.1500 BC) an expedition to E Africa was mounted using vessels of about 20 m/60 ft in length. These are the first sea-going ships of which there are reliable pictorial records; they were steered by oars over the stern. Great strides were made in ship design by the Phoenicians, who traded throughout the Mediterranean, but they left no pictorial records. Chinese ships were making voyages of over a year by the 1st-c AD. The stern-mounted rudder was in use by AD 100 (Europe, 12th-c), and multiple-masted ships with water-tight bulkheads before 200 (Europe, 15th–18th-c). Greeks and Romans built galleys relying on oars for manoeuvrability and much of their propulsion, a square sail coming into use when the wind was favourable. Roman merchant vessels 28–56 m/90–180 ft long were propelled by a large square sail hung from a single mast, with a smaller sail mounted on a bowsprit to improve steering qualities; they were steered with two oars or sweeps mounted on the stern.

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