Czech historical boat expedition unveils ancient Mediterranean colonization secrets

A replica of an 8,000-year-old boat finished a month-long voyage through the waters of the Aegean Sea. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 17.07.2023 10:06:00 (updated on 17.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech-sponsored Monoxylon IV expedition, using a replica prehistoric vessel, successfully completed its voyage across the Aegean Sea. The participants returned to the Czech Republic yesterday after one month.

Expedition organizer Radomír Tichý from the Všestary Archaeological Park in the Hradec Králové Region said the team aimed to shed light on the nature of agricultural colonization in the Mediterranean 9,000 years ago.

The team of 20 paddlers and a helmsman braved the open waters, covering a 500-kilometer route divided into 17 sections. Starting from the Greek island of Samos, located off the coast of Turkey, they navigated through various islands before reaching the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece. The crew made overnight stays on some of the islands.

The boat, an accurate replica of an 8,000-year-old Neolithic boat discovered in Lake Bracciano near Rome in 1994, weighs nearly three tons, is 11.5 meters in length, and is up to 1.2 meters in width. The vessel was made last year from a single trunk of an uprooted oak tree that grew for about 300 years in a local forest in East Bohemia and is larger than the wooden boats used in earlier expeditions.

Boat will now go on display

The replica is scheduled to arrive in Všestary on Tuesday and will be on display at the archaeological park for visitors to admire.

"We have gathered valuable data during the expedition, and now we will begin analyzing the results," Tichý remarked. He plans to present the findings to the press upon his return at the end of the week, with a public lecture scheduled for September at the East Bohemian Museum in Hradec Králové.

Tichý also revealed intentions to produce a book, presented in the form of a comic strip, documenting the journey. A film capturing the spirit and challenges of the voyage is also in the works.

A challenging journey

The expedition posed numerous challenges for its participants, such as coping with intense heat. The most arduous leg of the journey involved an 11-hour upwind crossing to the island of Amorgos, battling sweltering temperatures and scarce winds during the long stretches between Melos and the Peloponnese.

Over 100 hours of paddling, the team conquered the entire 500-kilometer route at an average speed of 5 kilometers per hour, showcasing their determination and endurance. Monoxylon IV, organized under the auspices of the Archeopark Všestary public benevolent society, had a budget of over CZK 1.5 million, funded through contributions and sponsorships.  

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