They Who Go Down to the Sea in Ships…  (Call Me Fishmeal)

There was a time when the extent of the oceans was unknown; was it all one expanse of water, or were the seas divided from each other by land? And who were the people who settled this question?

The exploration of three-quarters of the Earth has been the greatest adventure of all time, undertaken by merchants, adventurers, warriors, pilgrims and explorers in pursuit of trade, travel, war, piracy, holiness, exploration, colonization and migration. These adventurers ploughed the waves in vessels dwarfed by the immensity around them, bringing upon themselves fame, profit, knowledge, or disaster for being (fool?)hardy enough to risk their lives and fortunes on its fickle temperament.

In this seminar, we will trace this history, from the first person who may have floated across a river embracing a log, to people travelling in dugouts, canoes, rafts, giant baskets, wooden-planked boats, sleek war-galleys with rams, plump cargo carriers and so on up to the great sailing vessels of the nineteenth century. We will discuss their means of propulsion, the various techniques used in their construction, and their role in history.

Nor will we neglect the discovery of the sea itself: winds, currents, shoals, reefs, and celestial navigation, as well as the knowledge and technology that went into seafaring, including charts, astrolabes, sextants and chronometers (even insurance!) invented or developed to advance seafaring.

So join me in spreading our mental wings to catch the winds of times past as we embark on our voyage of discovery, to unknown lands redolent of strange aromas and exotic wares and foreign tongues, all on the beckoning shores of the all-encompassing seas.


Group Leader: GEORGE MESZOLY
Venue: The Engineering Center
Meets on: Thursdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/6/2022
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 24
Teaching Style: Lecture and discussion
Weekly Preparation: None
Group Leader Biography:

George Meszoly is a graduate of Harvard College in linguistics and Far Eastern languages and of Columbia University in linguistics and Uralic languages.