AncientMariners - Ancient Mariners John Maxwell...

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Ancient Mariners John Maxwell Anthropology June 17, 1997 The Ancient Mariners of the Mediterranean and Ming Dynasty China: A Comparison of Seafaring in the Ancient World Audaces fortuna iuvat! This Roman motto which literally means fortune favors the bold has been cited as a common adage used by business men during the apogee of Roman Imperial domination. Most historians who have studied the Roman world of the first and second centuries AD would most likely agree that the seafarers under the protection of the Roman Empire would have held this motto dear to their own hearts. The Mediterranean Sea of this time has been referred to as a Roman Lake by many historians. But this was most definitely not always the case. In fact most of the knowledge of seafaring that the Romans acquired was first discovered by other great sailors such as the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Egyptians before them. The Chinese of the Ming Dynasty could equally claim that the Indian and Pacific Ocean later in the 15th Century AD were Chinese Lakes. These Chinese voyages of Zheng He and his treasure ships left a lasting imprint upon the history of seafaring. These voyages were filled with great scribes, doctors, and scientists with great knowledge of seafaring and a desire to acquire tribute for their emperor, Zhu Di, the Son of Heaven. But how did these great ancient seafarers of the Mediterranean and those of the Ming Dynasty China emerge to become the great lords of the sea? This essay shall explore this question as well as these equally important ones: Who were these seafarers? Where did they sail? What did they do? How did the sail? How were their ventures organized? And why did they go to sea? But in order to fully understand how these questions apply to these two sea peoples, we must look at the cultures themselves to determine how each was called to the sea. It has been said that the study of world maritime history is really a study of different cultures. These various cultures determine not only why a particular civilization goes to sea, but also when, where, how, and who does so. Unlike Ming China, the Mediterranean is and does consist of many different cultures. Over the centuries, because of these varying cultures and the struggles that erupted over desired resources, the Mediterranean has also come under the domination of many different masters. This ever changing succession of various ruling states led to innumerable maritime developments as one power sought to outdo the other not only on land, but most importantly, on the Mediterranean Sea. Bringing of forty ships filled with cedar logs. So wrote an ancient scribe in listing the accomplishments of Pharaoh Snefru, ruler of Egypt about 2600 BC. The Egyptians were, according to most academic records, among the very first civilizations along the Mediterranean to go to sea. The Egyptian desire to go to sea probably first began in view of the need to lower the cost of trade goods. Nearly all of these initial voyages to sea began in frail boats using
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course EN 01012 taught by Professor Carey during the Spring '07 term at BC.

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AncientMariners - Ancient Mariners John Maxwell...

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