Learning about a vessel’s overall construction can provide of information about the boat’s background and uses. For this project, I examined many different features of my model’s construction, and compared what I found to past research on Chinese river vessels. This vessel has a carvel-built hull that is relatively shallow draft, meaning that it sits fairly high in the water. Carvel-built refers to the fact that the exterior planks do not overlap with one another; instead, they form a smooth hull. The rudder is fenestrated, which means it has several holes in it to make maneuvering the boat easier. This technique is typical of Chinese rudders after the 13th century. The deck structure on this vessel is both ornate and built to maximize the size of accommodations. From just a few details of construction, we can see that this vessel was likely used for upper-middle class passengers traveling on China’s inland river systems. Click to learn more.
Analyzing ship construction can provide us with a great amount of information about the vessel like how it functioned, in what type of waters it sailed in, and what it was used for. Based on the ship model’s construction, I would conclude that it is of a Chinese barge that sailed between 1500 and 1800 and would have been owned by a wealthy, influential, and powerful individual for leisurely river travels. This individual could have been an emperor or another extremely wealthy person. Many pieces of evidence seem to point towards this conclusion. How exactly this barge fits into the surrounding culture is unclear, however, this barge would have played an important role in solidifying the individual owner’s power by showing it off to the rest of the populace. Click to learn more.
Gianna M. Lowery
As I researched the construction of this model and sought to determine how it would have been used, I am reminded that in archaeology definitive proof is hard to find. Without knowing what the vessel was called or where it was built, I sought to reconstruct its forgotten history piece by piece through the model. A shallow draft hull meant the boat was built for rivers, while a decorative superstructure suggested that the boat could be used for leisurely travel. Each part of the construction of the ship has a purpose, and through discovering those purposes I aim to find out more about the forgotten vessel. Click to learn more.
Content of this page provided by students of Anthro 1218: Shipwrecks and Seafarers, Piracy and Plundering: An Introduction to Maritime Archaeology.