The Monoxylon I Expedition

Film featuring Monoxylon I Expedition
Film featuring Monoxylon I Expedition

The Monoxylon I Expedition was realised in September 1995 and tested possibilities of sea navigation from the Middle East to mainland Greece.

The objective of the first expedition was to verify transport of people, crop and livestock by a chiselled out boat which had been constructed by tools from the Younger Stone Age e.g. 7000 years BC.

The boat was 6 m long, had a side float log and travelled 290km at sea. It was proven seaworthy and able to transport a crew of nine alongside additional load on board.

 

The Route

The Route of Monoxylon I Expedition

The route was chosen on the assumption of the least cost path and of needs of Neolithic crew to navigate without maps – i.e. to have the distant land in sight.

The route was planned across the Aegean Sea starting at the island of Samos just next to the Turkish coastline and went through the chain of islands of Ikaria, Mykonos, Tinos, Andros and Evia up the coast of the Attica Peninsula where it concluded near the town of Nea Makri.

The original itinerary of the Monoxlon I. Expedition and the professional appreciation of the significance of the expedition can be found here

 

The Boat

The Boat of Monoxylon I Expedition

The Monoxylon I Expedition. was focused on the Younger Stone Age (Neolithic). Since there had not been any findings of chiselled out boats in the Mediterranean in 1995, the boat of the first expedition was based on a hypothetical shape. The only monoxyl known to the professional public at the time was the one found at Tybrind Vig in Denmark. The find of a chiselled out boat on a former seashore represented clear proof of the use of such boats in coastal navigation.

The chiselled out boat of the first expedition was experimentally made out of a poplar tree using a burning technique. The replicas of Neolithic adzes and axes were tried out to shape the wood as well. The boat had originally been fitted with a mast and a boom sail. The first stages of the expedition made it clear though, that such a type of sail was completely inappropriate for a chiselled out boat. The mast significantly reduced vessel stability on waves because of absence of proper keel. The sail was practically only usable in direct rear wind, however, such conditions were rare during the voyage.

The issue with short axis stability of the boat was solved by fixing a side float log (see the drawing of the boat). Adding a side float took its toll though in slowing down the speed of the boat to 3km/hr and in reducing the boat’s manoeuvrabilities. It was more challenging for steersmen to keep the boat on course because boat the tended to steer float-wards.

 

Photos from the Expedition

 

Members of the Expedition