Boat Technology 6,000 - 1,200 BCE

Mesolithic Wooden Dock (6000 BCE)

(Jan 10, 2023) Excavated in the Solent waterway between the Isle of Wight and the southern coast of Britain. This suburb report on this underwater archaeological find at Bouldnor cliff begins at 25:47. 

The dock is composed of logs made flat on one side and place on pole in a marsh. It is 2 by 1 meters and double layered. The best explanation which would cause the local people to invest this amount of time would be to dock large dug out canoes loaded with fish and perhaps occasional trade goods. This is much easier than slogging a basket of fish over a 1oo meters of marsh. The dock would then be connected to solid land with sloping piles of  dirt which are now eroded away.

They even did some experimental archaeology to determine how these could be made with the Mesolithic tool set. They seem to have split these pieces from a large oak tree which had been felled by storm coastal erosion. After that they to burn and carbonize future flat surface so they could easily chop out the carbonized bits with their stone tools. Carbonization is a standard procedure used by stone age tribes worldwide to make dugout canoes, even into recent times.

Significantly, archaeologist found Einkorn wheat at this site indicating the coastal people were already at the proto-agricultural state of development in which they had a series of settlements to which they travel according to the time of year.

Map showing location of the Neolithic marsh village having the boats just northwest of Rome, Italy.  From Gibaja and all, 2024)

Map showing location of houses and boats. From Gibaja and all, 2024)

Neolithic Marsh Village Boats in Italy - 5500 BCE

(March 29, 2024) Five canoes were found at the lakeside Neolithic village of La Marmotta in Italy. Radiocarbon dates them from about 7,850 to 7,000 years ago.

The people on the lakeshore had domesticated animals, crops, and pottery. Their animals included sheep and goats, a few pigs and cows. They likely had dogs, too ("the faunal assemblage also includes two canine species of different sizes")

The most permanent Neolithic farmer settlements were around marshes where flooding maintained the fertility of the land and fish were abundant. Malaria had not yet appeared in Europe.

The prehistoric ruins beneath the waters of Lake Bracciano were first observed in 1989, and were excavated in subsequent years. Note that the whole site is submerged. The area of interest lies at a depth of 11 meters (36 feet) – 8 meters (26 feet) of water and 3 meters (9 feet) of sediment, about 300 meters (984 feet) from the modern lakeshore. The lake was smaller during Neolithic times but it still drained into the Mediterranean via the Arrone River.

The archaeologists have defined three periods of occupation: The settlement's foundation which is likened to impressed pottery ware and some incised pottery; a later phase, marked by different painted and incised pottery; and the final layer, reflecting the settlement's abandonment. All in all, the radiocarbon evidence suggests it was occupied for about 550 years.

The people built wattle and daub homes on stilts which had timber floors and reed roofing, the team deduced. They identified 14 putative rectangular homes – 8 to 10 meters (26 to 32 feet) long and about six meters (19 feet) wide, with division into internal rooms and hearths.

Tools were found made of flint, some originating in the distant Alps, and volcanic obsidian which originated in the distant islands of Palmarola and Lipari. Also, tools made of wood were discerned, preserved by the extraordinary conditions of the lake bed, as were some textiles and artifacts ranging from spoons to bows.

Archaeologists have unearthed many early boats in several northern European contexts such as peat bogs and lake beds, including at Noyen-sur-Seine and Le-Coudray-Montceaux-Nandy, in France; Dümmerlohausen and Stralsund-Mischwasserspeicher, Germany; in the Netherlands and in Denmark and Slovenia.


Gibaja JF, Mineo M, Santos FJ, Morell B, Caruso-Fermé L, Remolins G, et al. (2024) The first Neolithic boats in the Mediterranean: The settlement of La Marmotta (Anguillara Sabazia, Lazio, Italy). PLoS ONE 19(3): e0299765.
Schuster, Ruth (Mar 28, 2024) Earliest Canoes Found in Mediterranean Region Are Startlingly Sophisticated, Online at

Two of the boats on display at  . While the largest boat, in the foreground, could have been used to carry people and goods across the lake but more likely it was meant to be floated down to the Mediterranean for coastal trade. The smaller boat was likely used for fishing in the lake's marshes. From Gibaja and all, 2024). On display in the National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography (Museo delle CiviltàMuseo delle Civiltà in Rome). 

Equivalent Dug Out Canoes Were Made By Native Americans - 17th Century Powhatan Canoe

Powhatan is the name of the native American tribe in Virginia at the time of the Jamestown settlement in 1620.  They had a stone age tool kit prior to trading with the British yet they could make canoes holding up to 60 people. This video along with many other excellent ones are put out by the Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Online at:

Dr. Laura Harrison is Director of Access 3D Lab Research and Assistant Professor University of South Florida . Her research focuses on digital heritage in archaeology and museums, public archaeology, and the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean.

Bronze Age Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean

(August 9, 2022) We can trace forerunners of the contemporary world back to the Bronze Age (ca. 3000-2000 B.C.E.), at which time Turkey was both a crossroads between neighboring societies in the Aegean and Mesopotamia, and an independent center in its own right.

Archaeological remains from Seyitömer reveal how the standardization of pottery technology, the quest for luxury goods, and a cataclysmic earthquake transformed daily life in this Bronze Age village. 

This is a HALF SIZED replica. Despite being overloaded it still has plenty of freeboard for crossing seas on a good day. Online at:

Bronze Age Boat Found At Dover, Britain (1500 BCE)

This boat is make from oak planks. It was around 18 meters (60 feet) long, 2.5 meters (8 feet) wide, and weighed about 8 tons.  It could carry approximately 2 tons of cargo.  Most likely that it travelled between the coast of France and then along the southern coast of Britain to Cornwall where it would pick up supplies of tin   (for making bronze) .

The boat had been made waterproof by pressing in a “stopping” (possibly a mixture of beeswax and animal fat) into the stitch-holes and along the seams, where the stopping was overlain by pads of moss wadding, compressed and held in place by long thin laths of oak under the yew stitches. The boat had clearly been used extensively. Tool marks on its bottom (outboard) surface were differentially worn away, suggesting it had been beached regularly on a sand or gravel shore. The main timbers had split and were repaired by stitching wooden laths over the damage.

End View of the Dover Boat on Display at the Dover Museum

Dover Boat Construction Schematic


Clark, Peter (2005) Shipwrights, Sailors and Society in the Middle Bronze Age of NW Europe. JOURNAL OF WETLAND ARCHAEOLOGY 5, 2005, 87–96
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