Nile shipwreck discovery proves Herodotus right – after 2,469 years
Greek historian’s description of ‘baris’ vessel vindicated by archaeologists at sunken city of Thonis-Heraclion
In 450 BC Greek historian Herodotus visited Egypt and witnessed the construction of a baris. He noted how the builders “cut planks two cubits long [around 100cm] and arrange them like bricks”. He added: “On the strong and long tenons they insert two-cubit planks. When they have built their ship in this way, they stretch beams over them… They obturate the seams from within with papyrus. There is one rudder, passing through a hole in the keel. The mast is of acacia and the sails of papyrus.
For centuries, no archaeological evidence was ever found that such vessels actually existed. Until now. A “fabulously preserved” shipwreck, found in the waters around the underwater ruins of the ancient port city of Heracleion, put an end to doubts and revealed that Herodotus’ accounts of the baris were extremely accurate.
“It was not until we discovered this shipwreck that we realized that Herodotus was right. What Herodotus described was what we were seeing,” Damian Robinson, director of Oxford University’s maritime archeology center and author of a publication about the findings, told The Guardian
Alexander Belov, whose book on the shipwreck is published this month, suggests that the shipwreck’s nautical architecture is so close to Herodotus’ description that it could have been built in the same shipyard that the Greek historian visited. The word-for-word analysis of his text shows that almost all the details correspond “exactly to the evidence”.
The Yucatan Times