The Monoxylon II Expedition

Film featuring Monoxylon II Expedition
Film featuring Monoxylon II Expedition

The Monoxylon II. Expedition took place at the turn of August and September 1998. The main objective consisted in practical testing of the coastal navigation of the monoxyl alongside the coast of Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.

This expedition was a natural continuation of the first voyage to the areas where spread of Early Neolithic Cardial (cardial-impressed) culture had been proven. The next goal was an experimental verification of the possibility of transporting a load of obsidian from the Aeolian Islands to the Western Mediterranean.

The last, but certainly not least, challenge for us was a symbolic representation of our motherland at the World Exposition EXPO‘98 whose theme was “The Oceans, a Heritage for the Future” because the Czech Republic did not officially take part at that world event.

The core of the Monoxylon II Expedition crew was formed by the “old sea dogs” from the previous Aegean adventure. The organisation of the second expedition was also more generous. We had our own expeditionary bus, a companion vehicle for transport of the boat and the yacht which escorted our boat at the first stages of voyage between the islands. Financing of the expedition was secured by several prominent sponsors. The expedition run under the diplomatic auspices of Petr Pithart, a Vice-Chairman of the Senate of the Czech Republic at the time.

The Route

The Route of Monoxylon II Expedition

Due to the length of the coastline between the Messina Strait and Lisbon (approximately 3500 km) and because of the limited time for navigation and the existence of a fixed date of presentation at the exhibition EXPO’98, the route of expedition was divided into several stages (see the map).

The individual legs were chosen to follow the areas of various archaeological sites and significant finds in relation to the ideas of the expedition.

During a month at sea the crew of the Monoxylon II. paddled a distance of over 780 km.


The Boat

The Boat of Monoxylon II Expedition

The discovery of a Neolithic boat in Lake Bracciano (Italy), which is now exhibited in the Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini (in Rome), was the concrete template for the construction of Monoxylon II.

The Monoxyl made for the second expedition differed from his “master” only in details, dimension and structure corresponded with the boat “Bracciano”.

The weight of the ship at the time of completion was 2650 kg, but it fluctuated slightly during the voyage as a result of the wood absorbing sea water.

The crew of the monoxyl usually consisted of 8 – 10 paddlers and a helmsman standing aft. 14 paddlers and a helmsman represented the maximum capacity of the boat. The first 4 bow benches were staffed by a single paddler each, the rest of the benches allowed for two paddlers to sit next to each other because of increased width of the boat.

Thanks to the reinforced bottom and the transverse “ribs” of the bottom ( visible on the original ) the monoxyl was very stable and reached an average cruise speed of 5 km/h. A sail was not tested during the Monoxylon II. Expedition.

The professional appreciation of the significance of the expedition and the parameters on Monoxyl II. can be found here

Photos from expedition