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martes 26 septiembre 2017



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Early craft

Until around 11,500 years ago a sheet of permanent ice covered much of the European continent. However, the sea we now know as the Bay of Biscay remained clear and large numbers of people settled along the coast of that glacial Atlantic Ocean. In this cold environment they developed the first boats, built from a skeleton of branches, bones and antlers covered in skins. Avienus and Strabo both mention these vessels and they have been documented from Scotland to the Basque Country and Finisterra in Galicia. Such craft are still used by inhabitants of the Arctic polar circle, due to the scarcity of materials, where they are called kayak, umiak or baidarka; more surprisingly, perhaps, they are also still in use as far south as Ireland, whe-re they are known as curraghs.

Glaciation in the Atlantic. A group of Inupiat, in a leather boat,
make their way through ice floes during the making of a documentary
for the BBC. The film explains the
Glaciation in the Atlantic. A group of Inupiat, in a leather boat, make their way through ice floes during the making of a documentary for the BBC. The film explains the "Solutrean Solution", a theory expounded by Doctors Bradley and Stanford from the Smith-sonian Institution in Washington which is gaining acceptance a-mong the scientific community. According to this theory North America was settled around 17,000 years ago by groups of Euro-peans from the area of the Bay of Biscay. © José Lopez
This model boat in gold dating from the first century BC, found
in Broighter, Ireland, is in the National Museum of Ireland. It depicts
a leather-covered craft. It matches the descriptions of the
vessels in this area given by various ancient chroniclers.
This model boat in gold dating from the first century BC, found in Broighter, Ireland, is in the National Museum of Ireland. It depicts a leather-covered craft. It matches the descriptions of the vessels in this area given by various ancient chroniclers. © José Lopez

The legend of Partholon. “In 1136 the Welsh monk Geoffrey of
Monmouth wrote the last pages of his work Historia Regum Britanniae,
in Latin. Monmouth relates how, in 1484 BC, an expedition
of thirty Basque ships led by Partholon and filled with men and
women was captured off the Orkney islands by the British King
Gurguntius the Peaceloving. Partholon told him they were "Basclenses"
who had been banished from their land, and that they had
been sailing for a year and a half searching for a new place to
settle. Gurguntius offered them the island of Ireland which was
uninhabited at the time. They settled in that land, which their descendants
have inhabited ever since”
The legend of Partholon. “In 1136 the Welsh monk Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote the last pages of his work Historia Regum Britanniae, in Latin. Monmouth relates how, in 1484 BC, an expedition of thirty Basque ships led by Partholon and filled with men and women was captured off the Orkney islands by the British King Gurguntius the Peaceloving. Partholon told him they were "Basclenses" who had been banished from their land, and that they had been sailing for a year and a half searching for a new place to settle. Gurguntius offered them the island of Ireland which was uninhabited at the time. They settled in that land, which their descendants have inhabited ever since”. © José Lopez
A curragh, a type of vessel still used (the postcard is from the 1950s) off the Irish coasts for non-commercial inshore fishing and boat races. The leather has gradually been replaced by tarred canvas, but the rudimentary structure and appearance of the boat remains the same.
A curragh, a type of vessel still used (the postcard is from the 1950s) off the Irish coasts for non-commercial inshore fishing and boat races. The leather has gradually been replaced by tarred canvas, but the rudimentary structure and appearance of the boat remains the same. © José Lopez

In 2001, members of the Albaola association built a hypothetical
replica using a frame of wood covered in leather. They sailed
along the Atlantic coast from Pasaia to Vigo, proving the seaworthiness
of the boatbuilding materials used in ancient times.
In 2001, members of the Albaola association built a hypothetical replica using a frame of wood covered in leather. They sailed along the Atlantic coast from Pasaia to Vigo, proving the seaworthiness of the boatbuilding materials used in ancient times. © José Lopez
The last Ice Age as it would have been seen from space. In this
reconstruction the ice can be seen to cover much of the European
landmass. The clear area of the Atlantic Ocean between Europe
and North America was much smaller than it is today
The last Ice Age as it would have been seen from space. In this reconstruction the ice can be seen to cover much of the European landmass. The clear area of the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and North America was much smaller than it is today. © José Lopez

Saint Efflam, Colmcille
eta Brendan monje zeltak
izan ziren
Saints Efflam, Colmcille and Brendan were Celtic monks who preached Christianity at the beginning of the Middle Ages, sailing along the Atlantic coast in leather boats. This Breton boat, built by the De Navigatio group, is the "Sant Efflam" and is an interpretation of the type of boat used by those monks. Here she is shown on the Bay of Biscay, during a voyage from Scotland to Galicia. © José Lopez
Legend on a map by Robert Dudley dated 1647, for the work
Del'Arcano del Mare.
Legend on a map by Robert Dudley dated 1647, for the work Del'Arcano del Mare. © José Lopez

The Bay of Biscay has always been known for its tempestuous
seas. Experimental voyages along the Basque coast in leather
boats, which are considerably lighter than wooden ones, have
shown that they are well suited to this environment.
The Bay of Biscay has always been known for its tempestuous seas. Experimental voyages along the Basque coast in leather boats, which are considerably lighter than wooden ones, have shown that they are well suited to this environment. The relief of the seabed in the Bay of Biscay, combined with the prevailing currents and winds, causes rough, dangerous seas.
The relief of the seabed in the Bay of Biscay, combined with the prevailing currents and winds, causes rough, dangerous seas.© José Lopez

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