Experimental Maritime Archaeology
Introduction and Definition
Experimental archaeology has been variously defined, early examples being Ascher (1961) and Coles (1966). Broadly, one may say that experimental archaeology involves recreating material aspects of technology or modes of production of the past, based on archaeological and historical evidence. If the experiment is based on good evidence and is conscientiously conducted, it will likely increase our understanding of the technology investigated.
Maritime or nautical experimental archaeology usually involves building and sailing a replica or recreation of a ship or boat of the past. Experimental maritime archaeology can be seen as having started in Spain when the impending 1892 quatro-centenary of Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas prompted the construction of a Columbus ship reconstruction. In 1893 a replica Gokstad ship built in Norway was sailed across the Atlantic to the Exposition at Chicago. Neither of these projects was explicitly experimental...
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