The Maritime History Podcast

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!

Direct download: 019_-_Ugarit_in_Flames.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 9:58pm CDT

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!

Direct download: 018_-_The_Beginning_of_the_End.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 11:24am CDT

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.

Direct download: 017_-_Black_Ships_on_Trojan_Shores.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 1:21pm CDT

Hi crew. Yes, this is the Maritime History Podcast, but as this week is the week of Halloween, I figured a somewhat creepy ship tale would be fitting. Credit where credit is due, Jamie at the British History Podcast was my inspiration, so thanks to him for the idea, and be sure to go listen to his reading of The Music of Erich Zann, another Lovecraft tale. I had another poem up for possible inclusion here, but the Facebook page seemed mostly on board with Lovecraft, so, without any further rambling, I bring you my reading of The White Ship by H.P. Lovecraft.

Direct download: The_White_Ship.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 3:59pm CDT

Our dual focus in today's episode are shipwrecks from the same region of southern Turkey. The Cape Gelidonya wreck was discovered first, making it the first ancient shipwreck to have ever been fully recovered from the sea floor. The Uluburun wreck was found later, but it is the oldest shipwreck to have yielded a substantial portion of her cargo along with a portion of the ship hull. Dr. George Bass was the head of both wreck excavations, and the theory he ultimately proposed to explain the ship's and their cargo was one that revolutionized the academic community's view of trade in the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean. Were the Uluburun and Cape Gelidonya wrecks both the ill-fated remains of voyages conducted by 'proto-Phoenecian' sailors from the Levant? Listen to today's episode to hear the evidence for yourself!

Direct download: 016_-_Old_Money_-_The_Uluburun_and_Gelidonya_Wrecks.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 10:16am CDT

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!

Direct download: 015_-_The_Advent_of_the_Mycenaean_Galley.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 11:43am CDT

This time around we take a look at a few select cuneiform tablets from a collection known as the Amarna Letters. Discovered in Amarna, Egypt, these letters are a rare insight into the communication between the pharaoh and the rulers of many cities around the Bronze Age world. First, the king of Alasiya is forced to defend himself against accusations of piracy. This letter mentions the Lukkan pirates, perhaps the oldest reference to a pirate group in history. Our second letters come from Rib-Addi, the ruler of Byblos, a man under siege from both land and sea. Ultimately, the Amarna Letters help us better understand the Bronze Age Mediterranean around 1350 BCE.

Direct download: 014_-_The_Amarna_Letters_and_Some_Lukkan_Pirates.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 1:46pm CDT

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!

Direct download: 013_-_Akrotiri_Atlantis_Thera_Eruption.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 2:53pm CDT

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.'

Direct download: 012_-_Minoan_Thalassocracy_-_52915_10.42_PM.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 9:22am CDT

This episode originally aired on David Crowther's wonderful History of England podcast. Please check it out here if you haven't yet. His episodes regarding Henry V may help put this specific episode in context, as well.

This episode covers the military aspirations of King Henry V, with a particular focus on his use of naval power. The story of his flagship, the Grace Dieu, serves as a fitting indicator of the dynamics at play during the period and the decline of naval power following Henry V's death.

Direct download: Grace_Dieu_and_Henry_Vs_Proto-Royal_Navy.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 11:25am CDT

This supplemental episode is a reading of the 'Periplus of the Erythraean Sea' in its entirety. Be sure to check out the show notes for maps and links to more info about the text, if you're curious.

Direct download: 011.5_-_The_Periplus_of_the_Erythraean_Sea.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 3:32pm CDT

In today's episode we shift our focus east and look at the earliest identifiable civilization on the Indian subcontinent. The Harappan people were known to have had contacts with Egypt and Mesopotamia thanks to Harappan artifacts that have been discovered in those places. Sadly, there is very little evidence of maritime activity on the part of the Harappans, even though we know they were active to some extent.

We'll also look at the characteristics of the Erythraean Sea (Arabian Sea) and see how the monsoons helped connect the civilizations of the near east in antiquity. Other items include the so-called 'dockyard' at Lothal and a few boat depictions from the ancient Harappans.

Direct download: 011_-_Harappa_and_the_Erythraean_Sea.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 12:12pm CDT

In today's episode we're going to look at the evidence of heavy-transport shipping throughout Egypt's history. Their many monumental building projects required the transportation of staggering amounts of material, and there is evidence from Pliny the Elder and Herodotus that much of this transport was accomplished by shipping up and down the Nile. We'll look at the various theories for how objects weighing hundreds of tons were loaded and shipped on the Nile, and we'll see a few depictions of such ships from the pyramid of Unas and the temple of Hatshepsut.

Direct download: 010_-_Taking_Care_of_Business_on_the_Nile.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 9:26am CDT

The 'war' part refers to the first several pharaohs of the New Kingdom, kings who retook Egypt from the Hyksos. Specifically, we'll look at the pharaoh Kamose' retaking of the city of Avaris, partially accomplished by amphibious assault from the Nile. We'll also see the exploits of Thutmose III, but the 'peace' part refers to Queen Hatshepsut, a woman pharaoh who ruled concurrently with Thutmose III. Hatshepsut focused on reestablishing foreign trade, and one of Egypt's most well-known temple reliefs gives us a marvelous look at a voyage to Punt that was organized by Egypt's greatest female pharaoh. Other items from today's episode include a look at Min of the Desert, a full-scale reconstruction based on the Hatshepsut 'Punt' ship depictions, along with boat models from the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Direct download: 009_-_The_New_Kingdom.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 8:16am CDT