Sunday, 17 April 2016

Amazing Reed Boats of the Ancients

This is a reed boat.  You may or may not have seen pictures of them, because even though they have been around for thousands of years, they aren't exactly common knowledge. 

The reed boats I'm talking about are the ones made from the reeds growing along the shores of Lake Titicaca on the border of Bolivia and Peru in South America.   Apparently, they are so super-buoyant, strong and stable, that people in that area have been making them the same way for literally thousands of years!  That's pretty amazing in itself, I think.

But there's more...

Quite a lot of historians and anthropologists have reason to believe that ancient civilizations built larger versions of this kayak-type reed boat to cross vast oceans, not just Lake Titicaca.  They were built with cabins on top, long rudders and oar-like poles to navigate, and probably also with sails, so it's quite feasible that they could have crossed a sea or even ocean.

If you've been around for a while, you've probably heard of Thor Heyerdahl and his famous expeditions to prove that people in ancient times really could have crossed oceans with such reed boats.  For The Tigris Expedition, he built a reed boat in the style of these ancient ones to cross an ocean, but the book about his first and most famous expedition, called Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft  is still a #1 best seller!

Reading it some 20 years ago started a long process that resulted in my first book, "Rhuna, Keeper of Wisdom", using many ideas from Thor Heyerdahl's books and related subjects. 

Heyerdahl believed that many people on Pacific islands had Caucasian ancestors because records show fair-skinned, red-haired people living on some of those islands, such as Easter Island, when Europeans and other explorers like Captain Cook first arrived there. 

And since fair-skinned and red-haired mummies have been found in Peru, Heyerdahl wanted to prove that an advanced civilization from South America could have crossed the Pacific Ocean to settle the Pacific islands.  Those white-skinned races then mixed with the Malayans who came from Asia, and their descendants are today's Polynesians.

Rhuna, the heroine of my series, is Polynesian.  Her father is a fair-skinned, blue-eyed man from South America, and her mother a brown-skinned native living on Easter Island.  She leaves her isolated island home on a reed boat, and eventually ends up in South America.

So, do you think combining history, or at least theories about mankind's past, with fiction and fantasy is a good idea?!

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