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The timeline from 800,000 BP - 200 BC
A larger version of this timeline image can be downloaded at the end of this step.

The archaeology of seafaring through the ages

Since the earliest periods, people have taken to the seas and rivers of the world to undertake travel, communication, trade, exploration and warfare.

The timeline that we refer to in this step tells the story of seafaring across the ages using the archaeological record as its primary source. We begin with the earliest evidence for open water crossings; to the ancient continent of Sahul. Then we encounter the prehistoric impact of sea-level change since the last ice age, principally in north-west Europe. Finally we move into the historic period and discover the increasing mastery of the art and knowledge of seafaring and navigation by humans.

This timeline dates back as far as 50000BC. We have crowdsourced the information that ha been included so far. We are hoping to hear from FutureLearners all over the world, so that we get a complete view of seafaring through the ages.

We have a separate timeline (see step image and download) that dates back as far as 800 000 BC. This is for practical reasons - if we included everything before 50000BC on the same timeline, you would spend a lot of time scrolling!

We have categorised the timeline entries as:

  • People & Places
  • Ships & Shipwrecks
  • The Maritime Environment

Explore the timeline

Which shipwrecks and events do you think should be included?

We need to know:

  • Name
  • Location
  • A link to a good source of information for other people (in English)

Ideally, you will also provide:

  • A link with a relevant image

Please post your ideas in the comments. We will update the timeline during Week 2, and again at the end of the course.

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This article is from the free online course:

Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology

University of Southampton

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

  • Welcome to Week 1
    Welcome to Week 1

    Welcome to Week 1 of Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology with Dr Julian Whitewright, University of Southampton.

  • What is Maritime Archaeology?
    What is Maritime Archaeology?

    Vox pops with staff and students from University of Southampton: What is maritime archaeology? Learners are invited to share their thoughts.

  • Screenshot of the timeline
    The development of a discipline

    An interactive timeline that charts the development of maritime archaeology as a discipline. Contributions from worldwide learners are welcome.

  • Experimental maritime archaeology
    Experimental maritime archaeology

    Why build a replica? Watch Professor Jon Adams explore experimental maritime archaeology on location at Buckler's Hard.

  • Medieval seafaring
    Medieval seafaring

    In this video, Professor Jon Adams explains the techniques by which shipwrights have converted trees into boats suitable for sailing the world.

  • An operating table with bottles and other items on it, underwater.
    Treasure hunting, looting, and the illicit trade in antiquities

    Peter Campbell discusses the complex issues surrounding treasure hunting, looting, and the illicit trade in antiquities, in this article.

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