Week 2

Explore further – extended reading

This page contains many links to articles and videos about maritime archaeology and recent research and discoveries. There is no expectation that you will read (or watch) all of the links that have been listed. These items are not essential to the course, but we are aware that many learners are keen to develop their knowledge in specific areas. We would recommend that you dip into this step when you have time.

The earliest seafarers

The ancient Mediterranean and Indian Ocean

Mariners in the medieval world

In 1996, The History Channel ran a documentary series called “The Great Ships”, which featured an episode on “The Viking Ships” (and another on “The Pirate Ships”). Many key maritime archeologists contributed to the series, so if you can obtain a copy, it is worth watching.

Global seafaring the Age of Sail


Explore further – extended reading [Advanced]

The articles and videos in this section are at a more advanced level or are significantly longer than the previous section. As before, there is no expectation that you will read or watch all of the items.

The earliest seafarers

The ancient Mediterranean and Indian Ocean

Mariners in the medieval world

  • The Vikings’ Bad Boy Reputation is back with a vengeance. A major new exhibition is reviving the Norse seafarers’ iconic image as rampagers and pillagers by Franz Lidz in Smithsonian Magazine, March 2014.
  • A Viking mystery. Beneath Oxford University, archaeologists have uncovered a medieval city that altered the course of English history by David Keys Smithsonian Magazine, October 2010.
  • Raiders or traders? A replica Viking vessel sailing the North Sea has helped archaeologists figure out what the stalwart Norsemen were really up to by Andrew Curry in Smithsonian Magazine, July 2008
  • Viking Age iconography and the square sail. Browse to page 8 to read this article.
  • 1295: The year of the galleys. Hour-long lecture by Dr. Ian Friel for Gresham College in October 2013.
  • When Portugal ruled the seas. The country’s global adventurism in the 16th century linked continents and cultures as never before, as a new exhibition makes clear by David Zax, Smithsonian Magazine, September 2007
  • Sugar masters in a New World. Sevilla la Nueva, the first European settlement in Jamaica, is home to the bittersweet story of the beginning of the Caribbean sugar trade by Heather Pringle, Smithsonian, January 12, 2010.
  • Alfred W. Crosby on the Columbian exchange. The historian discusses the ecological impact of Columbus’ landing in 1492 on both the Old World and the New World by Megan Gambino , Smithsonian, October 4, 2011.
  • The Waldseemueller map: charting the New World. Two obscure 16th-century German scholars named the American continent and changed the way people thought about the world by Toby Lester, Smithsonian Magazine, December 2009.
  • The Gresham Ship: An Armed Elizabethan Merchantman recovered from the Thames 47 minute long downloadable lecture by Dr Gustav Milne at Gresham College in May 2014.
  • Elizabethan merchant ships and shipbuilding. Elizabeth’s galleons and other warships have attracted much attention, but a strong and diverse shipbuilding capability and merchant fleet were the foundations of Tudor seapower. This hour-long lecture by Dr Ian Friel not only covers the technological, organisational, economic and operational side of ships and shipbuilding, but also looks at the human realities of seafaring life in the period.

Global seafaring in the Age of Sail

  • The last days of Blackbeard. An exclusive account of the final raid and political maneuvers of history’s most notorious pirate by Colin Woodard in Smithsonian Magazine February 2014.
  • Did archaeologists uncover Blackbeard’s treasure? Cannons. Gold dust. Turtle bones. For archaeologists researching the notorious pirate’s flagship, every clue is priceless by Abigail Tucker, Smithsonian Magazine, March 2011.
  • For the first time in 93 years, a 19th century whaling ship sets sail. Built in 1841, the Charles W. Morgan is plying the waters off New England this summer by Constance Bond, Smithsonian, May 15, 2014.
  • The Greenlanders – Arctic whaleships and whalers. From 1750 to the early 20th century, fleets of ‘Greenlanders’ – specially strengthened sailing ships – headed north each spring from Britain to the ice-filled Arctic seas between Canada, Greenland and Spitsbergen. Their business was whaling, their purpose to bring home oil and whalebone – raw materials for Britain’s growing industries. Arctic whaling involved more than 9000 voyages from 35 British ports: Rotherhith’s ‘Greenland Dock’ is a reminder that London was a prominent whaling port. Each voyage involved dangers unique to the trade, demanding extraordinary measures of skills and seamanship. Dr Stonehouse tells of the ships, the men, and the profits and losses of a long-forgotten industry in this 51 minute long lecture.
  • The hunt for the lost ships of the Franklin expedition from Canadian Geographic. This is a detailed website with lots of information.
  • The birth and death of a dock in History Today by R.B. Oram. Article on Wapping Dock from 1968.
  • The Dutch East Indies Company – The First 100 Years. An hour-long lecture by Dr Thomas Crump. In the first hundred years, by facing off all its European rivals – where necessary by force of arms – the company brought unprecedented wealth to the Netherlands.
  • The Dutch East Indies Company – The Second 100 Years. This hour-long lecture focuses on the VOC’s second hundred years and will explain how it slowly lost out on almost everything it had gained, to become bankrupt by the end of the 18th century – ending a remarkable period in the history of European colonialism. (Transcript available).


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