Bronze Age Technology

The recovered portion of the Dover Boat on display.

Robin Wood is a remarkable traditional craftsman from Britain.  He has recently been involved with replicating the Dover Boat, a Bronze Age ship discovered in 1992 (see the news article here).  The find is about 3500 years old, placing it right at the cusp of early metal-working technology.

The Oetzi axe

The reconstruction is half-scale but staying true to the technology, they are attempting to use replicated tools for much of the construction.  Pallstaves were cast from an original and hafted both like an adze and like an axe.  This isn’t speculative as there are quite a number of preserved Bronze Age examples from wet contexts in Europe.

“Pallstave” replicas.

As with other ships and boats from the Neolithic and Bronze Age, ingenious methods were used to connect the planks and stiffen the hull.  Technologically, these fall somewhere between composite dugouts and true framed ships.  There are many factors in holding together a boat including lots of movement from all angles, swelling/shrinking of the planks, and the need for light weight.  The solution on the Dover Boat was to stitch the entire thing together with yew “withes” and stiffen the body with heavy lathes driven through carved mortices.

It seems that a better candidate could not have been chosen to work on this project and I’m very glad to see that he is documenting it on his blog for all to see.

Adzing a plank by eye, leaving the mortices standing to accept the lathes. (Click the photo or link below to go to Robin’s website).

“Experiential Archaeology” in action.


About George Crawford

archaeologist, archer, primitive technologist, and wannabee musician ... mostly
This entry was posted in Archaeology, bronze age, museum interpretation, primitive technology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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