Did you know that Archimedes built a boat? King Hiero II of Syracuse in Sicily, is said to have asked him to design and oversee the building of a very large boat of particular magnificence – a sort of Titanic of its day. This was around 200 BC.
A quick reminder. Archimedes was an all-in-one, a mathematician, engineer, designer, inventor – you name it. He was the Einstein of his day. He is very well remembered for shouting out ‘Eureka’, when he solved a particular troublesome problem.
Google “Eureka”. 3,350,00 searches are made each month for it. What is it people are expecting or hoping to find? Eureka is a Greek word meaning “I have found it!” (Perhaps a goodhearted reader could comment here).
The boat incentive in Saint Tropez he designed had a gymnasium, baths, garden and covered walkways. Apparently though it was too large for the port of Syracuse. (Whose fault would that have been?) Archimedes, by all accounts, was noted for precision accuracy. Perhaps it was King Hiero’s zeal for the large and splendid that led the King to overlook this small point.
Not having had much, if any, use when a famine occurred a few years later, the King is said to have loaded the boat to the brim with fish, meat, corn and clothes and had it anchored in the Nile Delta. The story stops here, so presumably, that is where she still is, but now preserved in mud. A vintage sailboat.
A few years ago, a boat was dug out of the mud of the Sea of Galilee. (Mud is a good preserver as it puts a halt to the bacterial decomposition of the wood). The severe drought of 1985-1986 had lowered the level of the lake such a lot that relic hunters felt sure that the exposed mud would yield some exciting discovery.
It did. A boat which dates back to the time of Christ. Experts note its mortise and tenon joints, typical of how wooden joints were made at that time. The boat is 27′ long and 7A�’ wide, which means that it was able to take a crew of around 19 people, 4 of whom would be rowers, and one a helmsman.
A mast would have meant it could also be sailed. Purportedly, excellent craftsmen had built it. The wood was mainly cedar planks, but 12 different types of wood were used. This suggests that the owner was probably not well off as the planks were not of the best cut.
This type of boat would have been used for fishing, or as a ferry or for military purposes. However the extensive repairs and the quality of the wood used in repairing it suggest that it was most likely to have been used for fishing. It has a flat bottom and shallow draft. The method of building in those days was to put the planks on first and then fit the ribs.
One last point of interest is the manner in which it was preserved after it was recovered. In order to stop the wood drying out and crumbling, opaque wax was used to replace the evaporating water from the wood. The boat lay in a ‘bath’ for 7 years until it was deemed safe to put it on display. Another vintage sailboat.
Perhaps some day Archimedes’ vintage sailboat might have a chance of rediscovery.