Thursday, August 19, 2010

7000 Year Old Oar in Korea

After my item on the plausible rise of Bronze Age ship building and its linkage with metal tools, we have here an artifact of pre Bronze Age water craft.  The sophistication is there and we have remnants of a pine log canoe or I assume that is what is meant.

It is worth noting that on the other side of the Pacific, Stone Age technology was extant into historic times.  The huge sea going canoes were built using stone tools.  What made it work rather well is their invention and use of the reverse adze.

This consisted of a handle formed from a limb and its trunk such that a stone blade could be fastened into the inside V joint so formed.  When the adze is wielded like a hammer, it easily chops chunks of wood away without easily dislodging the fastenings.  It is a neat tool almost unique to this coast and was likely used in the other side of the Pacific.

Rather importantly, this demonstrates the existence of real seaworthy craft that could easily hang a small sail long before the advent of metal tools and larger ships.  My confidence in the antiquity of skilled seamanship is enhanced.  The mere existence of an oar informs us that skilled sailors already lived 7000 years ago. It also informs us how Australia was peopled as well as many other islands.

S.Korea archaeologists uncover 7,000-year-old oar
August 17, 2010
This handout photo released on August 17, by the Gimhae National Museum, shows a wooden oar unearthed from beneath a shell mound in Changnyeong, 240 kilometres (144 miles) southeast of Seoul. South Korean archaeologists said that they have unearthed a Neolithic year oar, believed to date back about 7,000 years.
South Korean archaeologists said Tuesday they have unearthed a rare neolithic period wooden boat oar, believed to date back about 7,000 years but still in good condition.

The oar was discovered in mud land in Changnyeong, 240 kilometres (140 miles) southeast of Seoul, the Gimhae National Museum said.

"This is a very rare find, not only in South Korea but also in the world," museum researcher Yoon On-Shik told AFP.

"We have to check with Chinese artefacts to confirm whether it is the oldest watercraft ever found in the world."

One of the oldest boats or related artefacts was found in China's Zhejiang province in 2005 and was believed to date back about 8,000 years.

The oar, which was found intact in its entirety, is 1.81 metres (nearly six feet) long.

"The oar was well preserved because fine mud layers completely blocked oxygen from decaying it," Yoon said.

It was uncovered on August 11 at a site where experts in 2004 unearthed the fragments of what is believed to be two up to 8,000-year-old canoe-like boats, which are believed to have been 13.1 feet long in their original state.

The oar and boats were made from pine trees, Yoon said.

The technique that made them indicate there might have been a certain form of neolithic period trade using boats between Japan and the Korean peninsula.

"With this set, we can picture trade between the Korean peninsula and Japan, sailing techniques and a lifestyle back then," Yoon said, pointing to a similar find in Japan.

Japanese archaeologists discovered an oar, believed to date back about 6,000 years, on the Sea of Japan (East Sea) coast in 1999.

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