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Old 23-05-2014, 05:42   #1
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Ancient navigation

I thought this was interesting.

Excite News - How canoers will use ancient navigation in ocean

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HONOLULU (AP) When a Polynesian voyaging canoe called the Hokulea embarked on its first trips in Hawaii in the mid-1970s, its crew was trying to prove in part that travel without modern instruments or techniques was possible.
That early crew set out for Tahiti, an island 28 miles wide from more than 2,700 miles away, on a trip that's roughly like leaving Maine and hitting a bull's-eye the size of San Diego, without any roads or landmarks to show the way.
In an era of global positioning satellites, this can seem a relatively mundane feat.
Now, the Hokulea is set to embark on a more challenging voyage: a three-year, 47,000-mile odyssey that will take it to 85 ports in 26 countries. Among its goals is to impart the ancient style of navigation to a new generation of ocean farers.

Here's how they plan to do it:
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Old 23-05-2014, 06:18   #2
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Re: Ancient navigation

I find the subject fascinating, as well. The Bishop Museum in Honolulu has an interesting program on how the Polynesians navigated without instruments. It's presented in their planetarium, so you can see the stars that they actually used.

I just finished a book on the topic, Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Oceans, by Brian Fagan, an archaeologist. It's a bit pedantic at times, but it has a lot of really interesting information. I was aware of navigation using wind directions, birds' flights and wave patterns, but here's one I never thought of--here's how he describes the pilot of a native canoe.
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...the weathered navigator leans over, eyes shut, feeling the movement of the waves through his swinging testicles. After several minutes, he straightens up, looks again at the water, and then points to a course slightly more downwind.
I'll have to try that sometime.
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Old 23-05-2014, 07:26   #3
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
I find the subject fascinating, as well. The Bishop Museum in Honolulu has an interesting program on how the Polynesians navigated without instruments. It's presented in their planetarium, so you can see the stars that they actually used.

I just finished a book on the topic, Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Oceans, by Brian Fagan, an archaeologist. It's a bit pedantic at times, but it has a lot of really interesting information. I was aware of navigation using wind directions, birds' flights and wave patterns, but here's one I never thought of--here's how he describes the pilot of a native canoe. I'll have to try that sometime.
Indeed you should. It works quite well.

In cold weather you may have to lean farther.
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Old 23-05-2014, 07:48   #4
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Re: Ancient navigation

There are books on Emergency and Instrumentless navigation which go into the practical manner of navigating such as this. I personally think everyone should learn how to navigate this way FIRST -- not star paths per say but basic celestial navigation w/o instruments etc. You understand the fundamentals of how it all works.
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Old 23-05-2014, 08:33   #5
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Re: Ancient navigation

Some of my favorite sources.

This is one of the classics

Satarwal

Nice summary of how Columbus used stuff he learned from the Vikings to get to the New World

Columbus

There are plenty more.
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Old 23-05-2014, 11:24   #6
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Re: Ancient navigation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post

I just finished a book on the topic, Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Oceans, by Brian Fagan, an archaeologist. It's a bit pedantic at times, but it has a lot of really interesting information.

Hud - I am reading it right now. I recently finished The Great Warming - also by Fagan. He uses the same style in both books.
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Old 23-05-2014, 11:31   #7
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Re: Ancient navigation

I had the privilege of seeing the canoe in Morea, back in the day. If you can find the big Dipper, and the southern Cross then it is relatively simple to get around. A lot of the original explorers did not have a predetermined destination in mind. Go north in the pacific you hit Alaska or Russia, go south it is Australia or Antarctica. Simple, the hard part is getting enough to eat and drink on the way there.
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Old 23-05-2014, 11:44   #8
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Re: Ancient navigation

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If you can find the big Dipper, and the southern Cross then it is relatively simple to get around.
Thats a big if. The Ancients could find it under cloud cover using other stars and constellations, and they could also find E or W by rising constellations and stars.

The elegance and simplicity of it all is what I find so attractive, and why I believe strongly we should all start there in our education.
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Old 23-05-2014, 13:09   #9
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Ancient navigation

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Thats a big if. The Ancients could find it under cloud cover using other stars and constellations, and they could also find E or W by rising constellations and stars.



The elegance and simplicity of it all is what I find so attractive, and why I believe strongly we should all start there in our education.

What of course we forget is all the lives lost of those " ancients " who didn't successfully make it.

Dave
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Old 23-05-2014, 13:10   #10
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Re: Ancient navigation

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What of course we forget is all the lives lost of those " ancients " who didn't successfully make it.

Dave
Still going on.
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Old 23-05-2014, 13:13   #11
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Still going on.

Yes but in nothing like the same numbers. Today death at sea is not regarded as " acceptable ". In past it was simply part of the job


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Old 23-05-2014, 13:23   #12
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Yes but in nothing like the same numbers. Today death at sea is not regarded as " acceptable ". In past it was simply part of the job


Dave
The whole Con (sic) Tiki Expedition highlighted that for me, and made me wonder how they colonized the South Pacific, the number of fatalities involved. Staggering.

Successes recorded; failures never discussed.
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Old 23-05-2014, 13:52   #13
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Re: Ancient navigation

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Originally Posted by SaltyMonkey View Post
There are books on Emergency and Instrumentless navigation which go into the practical manner of navigating such as this. I personally think everyone should learn how to navigate this way FIRST -- not star paths per say but basic celestial navigation w/o instruments etc. You understand the fundamentals of how it all works.
Good points.

David Burch & David Lewis both wrote interesting books on this stuff.
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Old 23-05-2014, 14:24   #14
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Re: Ancient navigation

I loved the story of Kon Tiki, what a grand adventure.
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Old 23-05-2014, 14:33   #15
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Re: Ancient navigation

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I loved the story of Kon Tiki, what a grand adventure.
And they had a radio

But hell if they can do it, so can I! (in a Lagoon 39 that is )
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