Thursday, March 27, 2014

Some Modes of Travel in the Ancient World


Another diagram for the forthcoming Atlas of Human Prehistory. Not all are ancient, and the 'daily distances' have all kinds of provisos, but that's what the text is for. To add (at least); Mongolian nomadism, Australian aboriginal bamboo boat, South American reed raft...I want to emphasize movement and people in these diagrams. Items for the text (each diagram has a facing page of text and references) include 1. it's not a contest (travel on water is always faster), 2. you can double any figure for a hard-driving day, or cut it by 90% for a tough day (bad terrain, repairs, tired), 3. all ancient in origin but many still used daily today, 4. many (e.g. Irish curragh and a thousand others) are not represented here. Also, using beasts of burden might get you greater distances in the short run, as sailing craft, but domesticated animals need a lot of care, boats (to quote my mentor Kenneth M. Ames) are trouble, and in many cases in prehistory, the spread of humanity resulted from a complicated arrangement of ecological opportunities, technological innovations, sheer historical contingency, and social exaption (to use Clive Gamble's term).

> Still, I think, a useful diagram, so long as these are all pointed out...and they will be, in the accompanying text.

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