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Amongst the thousands of Bronze Age rock art images that are found along the paleogeographic coast lines of southern Scandinavia the most ubiquitous is the boat. A few are furnished with what look like a mast or sail. These attributes have largely been ignored or explained away as features or objects other than rig because it is widely accepted that the sail was not used in Scandinavia until the 8th century AD. But what if after all they really are depictions of rig? Might this suggest that the sail was not only known but perhaps used here over a 1,000years earlier than previously accepted? Starting from the bases of the images and the environment in which they are found, this paper asks whether vessels of the types we believe belonged to the Scandinavian Bronze Age could have been sailed? These evaluations led to a series of sail trials in a canoe undertaken in the archipelago of the Swedish west coast in the late summer and autumn of 2005. The successful results of these trials were later transferred to the Tilia, a full-scale reconstruction of the Hjortspring boat, a vessel dated to 350 BC but believed to belong to a long-established boatbuilding tradition stretching back into the Bronze Age. This is the report of the hypothesis behind these trials as well as their planning, execution and immediate results. KeywordsBronze age–Rock art–Boat–Sail–Scandinavia–Experimental archaeology
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... When mentioned it was mainly to point out that these are not convincing and rather depict other figures, such as a sun symbol or a standing figure (Rieck & Crumlin-Pedersen, 1988, p. 52). More recently the brothers Bengtsson have argued in several publications that these depictions do represent vessels employing a sail (Bengtsson, 2017;Bengtsson & Bengtsson, 2007, 2011. The earliest depiction of a vessel with mast and sail, according to Boel Bengtsson, is the Tanum . ...
... 13). In the case of Hjortspring, the possibility of it having been sailed has never been discussed before Bengtsson and Bengtsson (2011), only its paddling capabilities (Rosenberg, 1937, p. 89;Trakadas & Crumlin-Pedersen, 2003). ...
Thesis
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This thesis concerns the discussion regarding the adoption of the sail in Scandinavia. It is the aim of this thesis to assess the prevailing theory that the sail was a late adoption and to provide an overview for others. Firstly the problems regarding the inductive method within archaeology are discussed. Secondly the evidence is presented that is used within the discourse. Aspects that may affect their validity as premises are presented. Thirdly the arguments are presented, discussed and their strength assessed. The assessment of the arguments is based on the validity of the premise and the relevance of the premise for the theory. Since archaeology is mainly a discipline based on interpretation this assessment is unavoidably subjective. A clear methodology is therefore presented for the assessment, for which clearly defined qualitative scales are used. When the author´s own subjective judgement is used then it will be made apparent. It is thus hoped that this thesis will provide an overview of the evidence and make it possible for others to assess the strength of the prevailing theory without having to rely on assumptions made by others. It is concluded that there has been a lack of discussion regarding the representativeness of the evidence, that the constructional prerequisites for a vessel to carry a sail which have excluded an earlier use are not valid and that there are no reasons to exclude the possibility that the sail was used at an earlier date than currently thought.
... The transition from paddling to rowing represents a revolutionary transformation of boat technology in Scandinavia arguably of equal importance to the introduction of sails. Although it is widely accepted that sails were first used in Scandinavia during the Late Iron Age, most likely in the eighth century AD (Westerdahl 1995(Westerdahl , 2015, there are some who claim a much earlier introduction based on features resembling a mast or sail on Bronze Age rock art boats (Bengtsson and Bengtsson 2011). The introduction of rowing made possible dramatic increases in the size, carrying capacity, speed and seagoing capabilities of boats. ...
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