History of Technology 2: Sailing

ime to learn about sailing...takes me away to where I've always heard it could be, just a dre––oh. Not the Grammy award winning song of the year "Sailing"? Real sailing? Well, there goes our lesson plan.

LanguageEnglish Language
TechnologyHistory of Technology

Transcript

00:23

Italian dude accidentally sailed into the Caribbean. well today we're setting

00:27

the record straight. sailing did not start with ol Chris. it

00:31

started around 3000 BCE with the Egyptians, and it has a long history of

00:36

crucial improvements brave expeditions and wild money-making schemes. we've

00:41

spent a lot of time talking about the magical combination of big critters good

00:45

roads and wheeled vehicles. little trade networks growing cities globalization [witch stirs a brew]

00:50

and vehicles did all that right? no not quite.

00:53

sailing was actually the technology that contributed to globalization the most.

00:58

take that real vehicles. sales were one of those things that appeared

01:02

independently all around the world as far apart as Egypt and Ecuador. the most

01:06

early sales worked on the same principle. if the win was directly behind you you

01:11

could raise a big square of cloth and the wind would push you in that

01:15

direction. well modern sailboats are a lot more complicated than that. the

01:20

cruise always shout things like get hoist the rigging and tack three degrees

01:25

northward on the lead jib something like that. [people attempt to sail a modern sail boat]

01:28

obviously we've never actually been on a sailboat but we know they're complicated

01:33

and we know enough to stay off the poop deck. by 1200 BCE the Greeks and

01:38

Phoenicians had improved on early designs and built sails that could swing

01:42

on a boom to face the wind. that means the wind didn't always have to be

01:47

pointing in precisely for the direction they wanted to go well. they also cheated

01:52

a little bit and had rows of long oars that could steer and power the boat

01:56

whenever the wind couldn't. well for several hundred years the combination of

02:00

sail and sweat was the best thing on the maritime scene. but there was another

02:05

problem. how did they know where they were going you know in the wide open

02:09

ocean? well most ancient civilizations have a

02:12

simple solution to that problem. don't go into the wide open ocean. so [two men ask Siri for navigation aboard their old style sailing ship]

02:17

most chefs spent their voyages hugging the coast. well if they went into open

02:22

waters they relied on stars for navigation which sounds nice and all but

02:26

we prefer soothing robotic tones of a GPS thank you very much.

02:30

despite the iffy navigation and simple sails ancient people did a lot with

02:34

their ships. the Greeks and Romans built huge and deadly navies and the Romans

02:38

even hooked catapults to their ships and bombarded cities. while other societies

02:44

who weren't as smash and Burney as the Romans used sailing ships for

02:48

exploration. the Phoenicians were some of the first great long-distance sailors

02:53

and they managed to explore most of the north african coast.

02:56

the Phoenicians also created an alphabet that was adopted by the Greeks and

03:00

further mutated by the Romans. though they might not have been as smashing

03:04

Burney has the Romans but they still made their mark on the world and it was

03:08

their seafaring skills that allowed them to do so. that and the slight insanity it [man in robes receives a trophy ]

03:13

took to sail off into the Mediterranean in one of those old-school sail boats.

03:17

seriously what were they thinking? we would have waited for the Carnival

03:21

Cruise Line. [man hitch hikes on the beach]