Re: When did the Tradition of Naming Ships Start?
- Don't get the Noah thing going again.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Stefan Probst"
> not directly "Boat Design", but maybe somebody knows, or can give
> pointers ...
> I was wondering when and where the tradition of naming ships
> Columbus' ships had names. Noah's Ark didn't (or did she?).need
> I can only guess: As long as a boat is owned by an individual or a
> family, you can refer to it as the owner's boat/ship, e.g. "Tom's
> ship". But as soon as there is no clear relation, then you would
> another identifier. Take a navy: A ship will not always be captainedbut
> by the same chief (general or captain). The same might hold true for
> merchant fleets, i.e. where the ship is not owned by the captain,
> where he is merely an employee.fleets?
> So, the naming might be the result of having navy or merchant
- --- nutty_boats <nutty_boats@...> wrote:
> What this has to do with boating is a mystery to me.Thinking of names for my next boat, of course.
Really, just playing with the concept of naming in
general. I honestly don't think we can trace the
question of boat names - it seems to be pre-literate
and as such, effectively as good as untraceable.
Sometimes based on comparitive linguistics and using
early epics as records of older oral records, you can
trace words and names and such a LITTLE bit
pre-literate, but it all gets very speculative very
I don't know for a fact that Argos is the earliest
known example of a named vessel in the Western
tradition; it's just the earliest one I'm aware of,
maybe that says more about me. But it's also an
example of pre-literate storytelling preserved in a
rather later written version, so we really can't set a
good lower bound on its date - we can set an upper
bound, of the earliest known writing about it, but we
don't know how much earlier it was. Mycenean seems to
be the conclusion on literary evidence, but that's
pretty vague in terms of time-line.
I don't think that the Egyptians recorded the names of
individual vessels, and this is important because they
DID preserve the earliest Western drawings of vessels
and because the earliest preserved vessel remains
comes from there. When modern Egyptologists speaks of
"the royal barge" that's their descriptive name for
it, we don't know what the folks called it in the day.
Doesn't mean it WASN"T named however.
During some dynasties, they used figureheads of
various gods, but most often they finished the ends
with lotus-blossom forms, or no decorative finial at
all. During the figurehead period, we might guess
that people referred to "the Horus boat" or "the Ra
boat" or that a lookout might even say, "Here comes
Horus." Maybe that's where names came from. Maybe
We do know that in classical times, each culture had a
local ritual for blessing a new vessel and beseeching
the local sea-god(dess) to preserve the crews from
storm and pirates and Nessies and what-not. We know
that as late as Shakespeare, witches could still mess
with mariners, and tho' his bark will not be lost, yet
it shall be tempest-tost.
We know that in SOME of these cultures, a boat was
dedicated to the deity in sort of the same way one
dedicates a temple or a child, and we know that naming
children with religious ritual has always been a big
deal. Modern ship's "christening" is not exactly a
million miles away from that practice.
So it may also be that the earliest boat names were
intended to curry favor with the Divine. Certainly
that sometimes occurred historically, and still does
today, but there's no way to know if that happened
That is to say, naming a boat was not just to know
what to call it - the right name made it work better,
the wrong name could make it sink.
History is just one damn thing after another.
- Winston Churchill
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