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Egyptian Shipwreck Proves Ancient Greek Historian Herodotus Right

herodotus shipwreck egypt
An ancient shipwreck proves the Greek historian Herodotus was correct about the observations he made in relation to Egyptian vessels.. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 1.0

An ancient shipwreck proves the Greek historian Herodotus was correct about the observations he made about Egyptian vessels nearly twenty-five centuries ago, archaeologists said recently.

The shipwreck, discovered in the Nile River near the ancient, and now sunken, city of Thonis-Heracleion was of a ship called a “baris.”

This exact type of vessel was described in great detail by Herodotus in his text “Histories” (Greek: ἹΣΤΟΡΙΑΙ) after a visit he made to the port city of Thonis-Heracleion in Egypt.

Herodotus was amazed by the way people were constructing the ship, which was used to sail across the Nile River.

For centuries, scholars and archaeologists believed that the type of ship Herodotus described never actually existed because such ships had never once been discovered by anyone on Earth.

Shipwreck confirms  ancient Greek historian Herodotus’ claims about Egyptian vessels

This theory was recently blown up when a group of archaeologists found a well-preserved shipwreck off the coast of Egypt in the Canopic mouth of the Nile near the Mediterranean Sea.

What the archaeologists saw when they dove into the waters was exactly the kind of vessel Herodotus had perfectly described in his book nearly 2,500 years ago.

The 28-meter-long vessel was one of the first ships used by the Egyptians to trade during ancient times. The vessels Herodotus described in his book must have been the exact same type of ship but were just slightly smaller.

Dr. Damian Robinson, the director of Oxford University’s center for maritime archaeology, explains that “where planks are joined together to form the hull, they are usually joined by mortise and tenon joints which fasten one plank to the next.”

“Here we have a completely unique form of construction, which is not seen anywhere else,” Robinson told interviewers from Great Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.

Most likely, this unique method of construction was the reason why Herodotus was so amazed when he saw this type of ship. The renowned historian was also astonished by the peculiar types of wood they were using to construct the ships, which had been completely unknown to him.

Archaeologists believe that what Herodotus saw could have even been constructed in the very same shipyard as the vessel they discovered since a word-by-word analysis of Herodotus’ text very closely matches the appearance of the ship.

Herodotus was a Greek historian who was the first writer to have treated historical subjects using a method of systematic investigation and leading him to be universally considered as “the Father of History.”

He took it upon himself to record the history of the Greco-Persian Wars and other notable events of the time not as a dry, rote list of occurrences that were all caused by the gods— as had been done up until that time—but in a systematic way in which eyewitness accounts of those who were present were collated and analyzed, using reason.

It seems beyond obvious that that is the methodology and the goal—at least—of all historians today.

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