Tag Archives: boat

Millenium-old Viking burial boat unearthed under a market square in Norway

The boat, which measured at least 4 meters (13ft) long, was buried on a north-south direction under what is today the city’s trading center.

The Oseberg ship, Kulturhistorisk museum (Viking Ship Museum), Oslo, Norway. Credits: Daderot.

Just as archaeologists working in the historical city of Trondheim were preparing to end their dig under the central market square, they came across something intriguing. It didn’t take long for the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) researchers to realize what they had on their hands. Although the wood had long rotted away, the distinctive shape and other preserved structural elements helped identify the structure: a long Viking funeral boat.

“Careful excavation revealed that no wood remained intact, but lumps of rust and some poorly-preserved nails indicated that it was a boat that was buried here,” archaeologist Ian Reed of NIKU said in a statement.

The boast is damaged several places by pits and post holes. Cautious excavation has revealed that there is no wood left but clumps of rust and some poorly preserved nails that show that this is probably a boat grave. Credits: NIKU.

The feature, which was dug into the natural deposits, had been disturbed in several places by later pits and postholes, but it was quite clearly boat-shaped. It also contained two long bones, potentially indicating that a person had been buried there — though the bones could have also come from animals.

“This suggests that there was a human skeleton contained within the boat. Because of the poor state of preservation we will have to carry out DNA tests to be 100% certain that the bones are human, says Reed.”

The dig also revealed a small piece of sheet bronze, located up against one of the bones, as well as what appears to be personal items from the grave.

NIKU’s Knut Paasche, a specialist in early boats, says that the boat had been dug up into the ground and likely covered up by a burial mount which has since eroded with the development of the city. As legend has it, Trondheim was founded by the Viking King Olav Tryggvason in the year 997, but archaeological evidence indicates that the area was inhabited for thousands of years.

Boat graves are not unusual in Norway. Here is a boat grave with a boat/ ship from Myklebostad in Nordfjord. Photo: Knut Paasche, NIKU.

As for the boat, it’s unclear exactly when it was built and placed there. The objects that survived the burial seem to indicate that it’s at least one thousand years old, potentially 1,200 years old. The boat itself is relatively flat in the bottom midship. This type of vessel was likely intended to go into shallow waters on the river Nidelven.

“In a posthole dug through the middle of the boat we found a piece of a spoon and part of a key for a chest. If this is from the grave then it can probably be dated from the 7th to the 10th century, says Reed.”


Sketcth of an Åfjord boat. The boat in the grave is likely similar to this boat. Source: Nordlandsbåten og Åfjordsbåten av G. Eldjarn og J. Godal, 1988.

Burial boats are quite common in Scandinavia, though this is the first time one was found in Trondheim. It’s another indication that life flourished in today’s Trondheim way before Medieval times, Paasche says. Other Viking settlements such as Birka, Gokstad or Kaupang, all have graves in close proximity to the trading centre.

The practice of burial ships is ancient in Scandinavia, dating from at least the Nordic Bronze Age, around 1500 BCE. The Hjortspring boat (400-300 BC) or the Nydam boats (200-450 AD) are some of the oldest evidence, but the practice was significant through the centuries. Man and sea were intertwined for the Vikings, during life — and even after it.

First solar-powered boat to cross the Atlantic embarks on historical journey

The Solar Voyager — a small, autonomous solar-powered boat — is braving the winds and waves of the Atlantic Ocean to show the power of green energy. The craft left Boston harbor on June 1st and is expected to land in Portugal in October.

Image via inhabitat

Back in 2013, engineers Christopher Sam Soon and Isaac Penny started building a solar-powered boat powerful enough to brave the world’s oceans on its own from scratch. They’re not the first to try this — Wave Glider had been launched just a year before, relying on waves to power it forward on its journey. But Wave glider was funded by California based Liquid Robotics, while Soon and Penny had no such help. The duo designed and built the craft by themselves, working on the project in their spare time after work. Anyone can build a ship like they did, Penny said.

“Only Liquid Robotics can build a Wave Glider, but anyone can do what we did. We don’t even have a garage!” laughed Penny.

Solar Voyager’s photovoltaic panels can churn out 7 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy every day in summer and 3 kWh in winter. The ship was built from aluminum, which the engineers chose over the usual “glass reinforced plastic” used in other autonomous crafts for its better resilience. On the flip-side, the metal also makes the craft heavier and thus more energy consuming, but the team hopes it will help it survive the harsh open ocean. Just to make sure though, the engineers monitor their little boat through the Iridium satellite network, and can receive updated data every 15 minutes.

“Durability is the obvious problem, but there isn’t an obvious solution,” Penny told techcrunch. “Designing something that runs for a day is one thing — designing something that will run for months in such harsh conditions with no one there to fix it is different.”

Image via inhabitat

So why did they do it? To show the world that solar energy isn’t just an alternative — often times it’s the best solution.

“We always think about solar as this alternative energy thing, but you just couldn’t do this with fossil fuels – you couldn’t build something that will run forever,” Penny said.

“Whether it’s long endurance drones, or data gathering for maritime security, or monitoring wildlife preserves – solar isn’t just an alternative form of energy, it’s the best solution. It brings something to the table that nothing else has.”

The engineers are now looking for a boat owner in Portugal who can help them collect the Solar Voyager once it makes its journey. If you want to cheer the little ship onward, you can check on the Solar Voyager and see its current position here.

British research vessel gets named “Boaty McBoatFace” following an online poll

The world has spoken and the vote has been cast: people want to name the new British Antarctic research ship “Boaty McBoatface”. Vox populi, vox Dei!

The boat that could become Boaty McBoatface.

It all started when the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) started a poll to name their $2.8 million research ship last month with its Twitter #nameourship campaign. The internet did what the internet does, and came up with names such as “Usain Boat,” “Boatamus Prime,” “It’s bloody cold here,” “Ice Ice Baby,” and “Notthetitanic,” but one really stood out; one name shone bright above them all: Boaty. BoatMcBoatface. The name gathered 78 percent of all votes, as clear a winner as any.

However, the final decision still lies in the hands of NERC and its chief executive, Duncan Wingham. They have been quite evasive about their decision, writing in a statement:

“NERC would like to thank everyone who has supported our campaign to name the UK’s next world-class polar research ship. NERC will now review all of the suggested names and the final decision for the name will be announced in due course.”

They have a long history of naming ships after explorers and naval officers, and this is probably what they were going for this time. We’ll just have to wait and see if they’ll follow what the people want, or if they’ll go for a more classical approach. But at this point, you just have to follow the pole – it’s too awesome to ignore.

The top ten suggestions are:

  • Boaty McBoatface – 124,109 votes

  • Poppy-Mai – 34,371 votes

  • Henry Worsley – 15,231 votes

  • It’s bloody cold here – 10,679 votes

  • David Attenborough – 10,284 votes

  • Usain Boat – 8,710 votes

  • Boatimus Prime – 8,365 votes

  • Katherine Giles – 7,567 votes

  • Catalina de Aragon – 6,826 votes

  • I like big boats & I cannot lie – 6,452 votes

Archaeologists uncover 4,500-year-old 59-foot boat at a site in Egypt

Archaeologists from the Charles University in Prague have made a stunning discovery in Egypt: they found a stunningly well preserved long boat, buried for four and a half millennia.

Viiew of the boat during the process of excavation (Archives of the Czech Institute of Egyptology, V.Dulikova)

The discovery was made at Abusir, “the House or Temple of Osiris” and an extensive necropolis with many well documented findings. But Egypt still has a story to tell. In 2009, Czech archaeologists started to dig and work around a local mastaba, a type of rectangular stepped tomb made of mud bricks. The imposing size of the mastaba, as well as the architectural details and the name of king Huni (Third Dynasty) discovered on one of the bowls made them think there’s more to find – and they were right.

After digging for over 5 years, they uncovered an 18 m-long wooden boat covered by wind-blown sand. Located some 12 meters away from the mastaba, it is still clearly part of the burial site. The boat’s condition is simply stunning; not only are the wooden planks and joinery intact after 4500 years, but even the original rigging is still in place, probably aided by the dry sand. Researchers believe studying these elements will shed a new light on Egyptian boat building.

Viiew of the boat during the process of excavation (Archives of the Czech Institute of Egyptology, V.Dulikova)

But equally interesting is the burial site itself – the practice of burying someone alongside a boat. We don’t know who this person was because all revealing writings have faded away. He wasn’t a royal member because he wasn’t buried in or around a pyramid, but he was still important enough to be buried in a mastaba – so we’re clearly talking about a member of the elite society. The practice is also not new, but this is the biggest boat ever found in a burial site by a wide margin.

“It is by all means a remarkable discovery. The careful excavation and recording of the Abusir boat will make a considerable contribution to our understanding of ancient Egyptian watercraft and their place in funerary cult. And where there is one boat, there very well may be more.” adds director of the excavations, Miroslav Bárta.

Abusir is one relatively small segment of the extensive “pyramid field” that extends from north of Giza to below Saqqara. It is currently one of the most significant active sites in Egypt being, among other things, the origin of the largest find of Old Kingdom papyri to date.