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The Maritime History Podcast

The Maritime History Podcast is a chronological look at maritime history and its numerous facets. Beginning with ancient history, the podcast looks at trade, exploration, boat and ship-building, economics, and the relationship between the ocean and the development of society and culture throughout history. Learn more about the podcast at http://maritimehistorypodcast.com.

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002 - Surplus Food, Big Buildings, and Power Hungry Lugals

We'll witness the expansion of Sumer from a scattered farming society into the world’s first true civilization and see how society became less egalitarian with the emergence of a ruling class. Then, surplus grain and the ambitions of the rulers combined to spur on long distance trade that reached south into the Persian Gulf and beyond. Show Notes Support the Podcast

20mins

16 Aug 2014

Rank #1

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003 - Sargon to Hammurabi: Trade and Turmoil in Ancient Mesopotamia

Although this episode will cover a greater span of time than the first two episodes covered, we'll still slow down and see how a Sumerian moon-god named Nanna-Suen and a Mesopotamian Royal Hymn called “Shulgi and Ninlil’s Boat” can help us better understand maritime history; how Sargon of Akkad forged one of the world's first large empires and used that power to influence trade; and eventually how transition and turmoil within Mesopotamia led to a decline of trade that began with Hammurabi and lasted for centuries. Show Notes Support the Podcast

25mins

26 Aug 2014

Rank #2

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022 - Rise of the Phoenicians

The Phoenicians have finally arrived on the historical stage, at least as our humble podcast is concerned. In today's episode, we look at their place in the post-Bronze Age world, along with the rise of the island city of Tyre. The Phoenicians would create a widespread maritime network, leading to their recognition as the preeminent ancient maritime navigators and sailors. This all fell into place after King Hiram I helped Tyre rise to power through an alliance with Israel, after which they founded the first Phoenician colony at Kition on the island of Cyprus. Join us for the first focused look at the Phoenicians. Show Notes - http://maritimehistorypodcast.com/ep-022-rise-phoenicians

48mins

2 Apr 2016

Rank #3

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030 - Trireme 101: How to Build, Sail, and Ram and Ancient Greek Warship

Today we have a lengthy primer focused only on the trireme. After a jaunt through some of the evidence related to when the trireme first came into use on the seas of ancient Greece and the Near East we then take a deep dive into the numerous aspects of the ship itself. We discuss the materials used by ancient shipwrights, the process of building and outfitting a trireme, and the design of this ship that set it apart from the oared galleys of archaic Greece. The trireme was essentially an oar-powered maritime missile, so we then outline the various sailors who made up the typical 200-man contingent of each trireme. The trierarch functioned as a ship captain, and from there we meet the other 199 men, 170 of whom were oarsmen. Much of what we know about the trireme has been confirmed via the reconstruction of Olympias and the ensuing sea trials that she underwent. After a bit about Olympias, we conclude with a look at the naval tactics that developed in the wake of the trireme taking over the naval scene in ancient Greece. All in all, what we've got is a 105-minute ode to the most important ship of the ancient world: the trireme. Show Notes - http://maritimehistorypodcast.com/ep-030-trireme-101-how-to-build-sail-and-ram-and-ancient-greek-warship

1hr 46mins

3 Jun 2017

Rank #4

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004 - Mesopotamian Merchants

In this episode we'll get to meet two of the more well known merchants from Mesopotamia: Ea-nāşir who lived during the time of the first Babylonian king, Hammurabi, and Lu-Enlilla from the Third Dynasty of Ur. We'll also look at some of the economic factors at play in the world of the Mesopotamian merchants, and we'll see how the earliest law codes had an effect on the trade of the shipping merchants. Show Notes Support the Podcast

25mins

14 Sep 2014

Rank #5

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017 - Black Ships on Trojan Shores

Today we delve into a grey area between myth and history: the Trojan War. The Homeric epic poem The Iliad is now one of the most well known Greek myths. Before the discoveries of Mycenae and Troy around the turn of the century, almost no one believed that the Trojan War had actually happened. Now, archaeological evidence from Troy and other Anatolian coastal cities, combined with letters and treaties found in Hittite archives give us a glimpse at a what may be the historical basis of the Trojan War. Homer tells us of black ships on Trojan shores and of epic clashes between heroes who were aided by the gods. The Hittite archives tell us of Mycenaean raiders on the Anatolian coast and of a Hittite king who moved in to quell a Mycenaean backed rebellion. Listen to today's episode to see what we now know about the state of the Bronze Age world at the time Herodotus thought the Trojan War had been fought. Show Notes Support the Podcast

57mins

17 Nov 2015

Rank #6

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029 - Trade with Egypt, Conflict with Carthage

In this installment, we continue to follow the Greeks as they expand yet further. Our first destination is Egypt, where the Greek emporion at Naukratis was set up by a diverse group of mercenaries and traders. The recently discovered port of Thonis-Heraklion also makes an appearance, and we see that mercenary sailors worked for the pharaoh at various times. Greece also like Egyptian prostitutes, apparently. The second part of the episode focuses on the extent of Greek meddling in the far western Mediterranean. There the Phocaeans founded Massalia, and tried to get on friendly terms with the locals. But, Cyrus the Great sacked Phocaea in 546 BCE and the Greeks fled to the colony of Alalia on the island of Corsica. Feeling hard done, the Greeks turned to piracy and thereby united Carthage and the Etruscans against them, which resulted in the Battle of the Sardinian Sea. We cover a lot of ground in today's episode!   Show Notes - http://maritimehistorypodcast.com/ep-029-trade-with-egypt-conflict-with-carthage

1hr 4mins

28 Mar 2017

Rank #7

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025 - Carthage: A New (City) Hope

This week we follow the fleeing Elissa, princess of Tyre, to Qart-ḥadašt, the "New City" that would come into wider fame as Carthage. We start with some talk of the mythical founding of Carthage, some conjecture about when the city was really founded, and an overview of the city's early growth. Then, we look at two Phoenician shipwrecks discovered over 33 nautical miles off Asheklon, Israel. The Tanit and Elissa are two of the oldest Phoenician shipwrecks discovered to date, and then can tell us a fair amount about Phoenician shipping practices, also about their religious practices in relation to maritime travel. Another long episode with the Phoenicians it is! Show Notes: http://maritimehistorypodcast.com/ep-025-carthage-new-city-hope

51mins

15 Jul 2016

Rank #8

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020 - The Sea Peoples Sail South: Vol. II

Today we wrap up our look at the Late Bronze Age Collapse. We focus heavily on Egypt's naval clash with the Sea Peoples in 1177 BCE. Our main sources are the inscriptions and relief at the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu. The relief in particular is very enlightening, revealing for the first time the use of a new sail type by both the Sea Peoples and the Egyptians. We talk about this technological development and finish up by looking a bit at where the Sea Peoples ended up and how the stage was set for the dawn of the Iron Age. Show Notes Support the Podcast

48mins

13 Jan 2016

Rank #9

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013 - Akrotiri, Atlantis, and the Thera Eruption

Today's episode will focus on three main topics, all related to the Minoan Civilization in the Aegean. First, we'll talk in detail about the exquisite Fleet Fresco fount in the West House at Akrotiri. Then we'll consider the volcanic eruption that buried Akrotiri, destroyed much of Thera, and effected large swaths of the Bronze Age Aegean. We’ll finish up by looking at the arguments of those who claim that the Minoan Civilization was Plato's basis for Atlantis when he discussed Atlantis in Timaeus and Critias. Hop aboard for this fact filled episode about the Bronze Age Minoans! Show Notes Support the Podcast

52mins

28 Jun 2015

Rank #10

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005 - Meanwhile, In Egypt...

In this episode we'll focus mainly on the predynastic depictions of papyrus boats, wooden boats, the earliest depictions of the sail, and one important petroglyph. Then, we'll consider the validity of a theory that has connected ancient Egypt with ancient Mesopotamia. We'll conclude by looking at a magnificent discovery at Abydos where some of the oldest wooden planked boats to have ever been found were buried in their own graves in the Egyptian desert. Show Notes Support the Podcast

28mins

28 Sep 2014

Rank #11

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019 - Ugarit in Flames

This episode will conclude with the city of Ugarit in flames. Before we get there, we'll look at two Hittite invasions of Cyprus using borrowed ships, Egypt's first battle with the Sea Peoples, and the practice of using human hands as accounting units. After that, we'll delve into the causes of the Late Bronze Age Collapse: earthquake, climate change, drought, famine, and invasion. With each of these causes we'll look at the evidence as it comes. Finally, we have recovered letters from many cities like Ugarit, cities that were ultimately destroyed. These letters open a window on to the actions and fears of kings and merchants as the Bronze Age World collapsed underneath them. Heady stuff! Show Notes Support the Podcast

46mins

16 Dec 2015

Rank #12

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018 - The Beginning of the End

In today's episode we take a look at just what the title suggests, the beginning of the end for the cultures and powers of the Bronze Age world. We'll make our first visit to the Levantine trade center of Ugarit, a city that will factor heavily in our look at the Late Bronze Age Collapse. Then, after a look at the broad roadmap of occurrences during the period, we'll see the first mention of the Sherden, a group that became part of the Sea Peoples. The Hittites and Egyptians clash at Qadesh, the Aegean begins to unravel, and the Assyrians deal a death blow to the Hittite Empire. We finish by looking at a treaty that sought to cut off Assyrian access to the Mediterranean trade routes. Thanks for tuning in! Show Notes Support the Podcast

40mins

1 Dec 2015

Rank #13

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015 - The Advent of the Mycenaean Galley

Today we discuss the rise of the Mycenaean galley, a style of ship characterized by oared propulsion and  a long, narrow hull built for speed and power rather than for transport. Depictions are numerous, so we focus on a few main items from around the Mycenaean world. We also discuss the 'Aegean List' of Amenhotep III, a list of foreign cities in the Aegean, cities which one professor believes were visited by the New Kingdom Egyptians. Finally, we also discuss a Mycenaean galley model found in a tomb in Gurob Egypt, making connections between the style in which it was decorated and the Homeric references to Achaean galleys during the Trojan War. This episode is filled to the brim with great info, so don't miss out! Show Notes Support the Podcast

42mins

29 Sep 2015

Rank #14

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012 - Minoan Thalassocracy

In today's episode, we'll take a look at the evidence from early Minoan history, beginning with pre-history and working up to the Neo-Palatial period. While the items we'll discuss are beautiful and tell us a lot about the artistic focus of Minoan culture, we'll also try to discern the line between fact and fiction when it comes to theories of a Minoan thalassocracy, or, the so-called Minoan 'empire of the sea.' Show Notes Support the Podcast

43mins

30 May 2015

Rank #15

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027 - Odysseus Builds a Boat

Today we fill in some gaps concerning Greek colonization, looking first at the founding of colonies along the eastern coast of Sicily. The Greeks colonized by force more so than did the Phoenicians, so we'll draw some distinctions there and see how the two cultures began to come into more conflict in and around the central Mediterranean. Then, we learn a bit more about the process of Greek colonization, including a small bit about the role that religion played. The Homeric epics then inform us about the state of shipbuilding in the 8th century BCE, with the famous passage where Odysseus builds a boat taking central stage. We wrap up by trying to flesh out why exactly the Greeks and Phoenicians developed animosity toward each other, with tales from Odysseus and Eumaeus from the Odyssey giving us a window into Greek perceptions. The Greeks continue the push west!   Show Notes - http://maritimehistorypodcast.com/ep-027-odysseus-builds-boat   Boat Radio - http://boatradio.tv

59mins

30 Oct 2016

Rank #16

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023 - Setting Up Shop in the Central Med

The Phoenicians are now on the move, pushing the scope of our podcast to the west. While they were mainly concerned with expanding their access to natural resources like copper, iron, and silver, they weren't entering a vacuum. The Nuragic people of Sardinia were active in a regional trade centered on the Tyrrhenian Sea, and soon after the Phoenicians reconnected the Euboeans with the Mediterranean trade networks, both of them had set up colonies on Sardinia and in western Italy. We look at archaeological evidence for all the activity there, but in the end, this episode is a stepping stone to the Phoenician presence in the far west of the Mediterranean, just as Sardinia was for the Iron Age mariners. Show Notes - http://maritimehistorypodcast.com/ep-023-setting-shop-central-med History of Exploration Podcast - https://historyofexploration.net & on iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/the-history-of-exploration/id1092666716?mt=2

47mins

4 May 2016

Rank #17

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028 - Unlocking the Pontus Euxinus

In today's installment, we'll tell a tale of two cities in one sense. The age of colonization in Greece had an early leader in the island of Euboea, but as the Euboeans were stretched thin, Corinth and Miletus rose to become the leaders of Greek colonization. We'll look at the wealth that Corinth controlled thanks partially to her location, but also to the diolkos and other maritime innovations that she instituted. Our second city of focus is Miletus, the 'jewel of Ionia'. She was at the forefront of the Greek push into the Euxine Sea, or, the Black Sea. So after laying out the geography of the 'Pontus Euxinus' and her approaches, we'll look at the colonies, resources, and importance of the Greek effort to unlock the Black Sea. We also consider the aeinautae, a group of magistrates who ruled Miletus by sailing out to sea and weighing anchor until they'd made whatever decision was at hand. An interesting method of governing, to be sure.

1hr 3mins

31 Jan 2017

Rank #18

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Interlude - Boats of Prehistory

This 'interlude' episode sits in the gap between Seasons 1 and 2 of the podcast. While Season 1 began with ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and the Mediterranean, we didn't really go back further than written history allows. Today we'll take a whirlwind look at the basic types of boats and watercraft that were probably used by prehistoric man in different parts of the globe. From the dugout canoe to the bundle raft, hide boat, and bark canoe, these were the boats that allowed man to occupy the furthest reaches of the globe long before European explorers 'discovered' those islands in the scientific sense. Show Notes Support the Podcast

40mins

29 Jan 2016

Rank #19

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026 - Sailing Advice from Hesiod, the Farmer-Poet

At long last we make first contact with the Greeks! Today we try to cover the earliest periods of Greek colonization and expansion into the central Mediterranean. Hesiod's writings can give us some insight into the socio-economic conditions in Greece proper, the conditions that spurred the colonization of the 9th and 8th centuries BCE. Early Greek colonies in the Levant connected them with the goods and ideas of the east, flowing west as far is Pithecusae, the oldest Greek settlement west of Greece. From there the colonization really picked up, with settlements being established along the sea-road back toward Greece. We finish our episode by looking at multiple ship depictions on Attic pottery found around the Mediterranean. We try to suss out whether some of these depict galleys or biremes, but the bottom line is the transition to biremes and triremes happened during the colonization phase. By the end today we will have set the stage for the conflicts between trade powers in the central Med, conflicts that will be our focus in coming episodes. Show Notes - http://maritimehistorypodcast.com/ep-026-sailing-advice-from-hesiod-the-farmer-poet

1hr 3mins

18 Sep 2016

Rank #20