The reed boat ABORA on the Mediterranean Sea

Dominique Görlitz

Thirty years after Thor Heyerdahl has navigated the Atlantic with his papyrus boats RA I & II in bold expeditions a new reed boat expedition should deliver further proofs for the sea worthyness of the reed boat. Many scientists believe that the crossing of the Atlantic by the RA II was not a proof that the earliest civilizations of Mediterranean brought cultural influence across the Atlantic, because Thor Heyerdahl always started with his expeditions on the coast of Marocco, exactly there, where the Stream of Canarias drifts to America anyway. If prehistoric sailors really made transatlantic voyages they would have to sail the West Mediterranean first to reach the Atlantic at all. But the papyrus boats did not have this sailing capability to sail against winds across the Mediterranean. The reed boat TIGRIS did also not sail against the wind in its long voyage across the Indian Ocean, either because it possessed a small sailing square or because keel swords were fixed in wrong positions.

New discoveries on prehistoric rock paintings prove that the sailors of the earliest time as already sailed against the wind successfully. For that reason this expedition wanted to test with an improved rigging whether the reed boats were able to sail across and even against the predominant winds. A team of students from the FH Mittweida and a grammar school from Borna have constructed an eleven meter long and 17 tons reed boat which has sailed on the Mediterranean in spring 1999. The expedition, originally, should have sailed across the Mediterranean Sea with final destination the port of the Canary Islands. Climatical and technical reasons took place to an earlier stop of the expedition in Piombino. Nevertheless the reed boat ABORA was able to overcome the most difficult route of the expedition in the Mediterranean Sea and follow the traces of the prehistoric sailors.