Note: The Probable Sailing Capabilities of Middle Minoan Aegean Ships

By Edward Gifford and Joyce Gifford, published May 1997

Abstract

Analysis of Minoan seals, together with illustrations from the Thera Frescos, suggests that Minoan vessels of the mid-second millennium BC had fine-lined shallow vee-shaped hulls and could be propelled by oars and sails. It is further suggested that the square sail was boom-footed and could be cocked up to behave as a balanced dipping lug sail. This arrangement is similar to that of modern Indonesian praus. Experiments showed that such a rig could point 15 degrees higher than with a loose-footed square sail of the same size. Extensive work on evidence from many sources and the reconstruction of sailing characteristics of late Bronze Age sailing craft has resulted in confirmation that such vessels could make reliable direct passages contrary to the prevailing winds.

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Filed under: Antiquity | Mediterranean
Subjects include: Archaeology | Shipbuilding & Design

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