By Gregory P. Gilbert
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Extra info for Ancient Egyptian sea power and the origin of maritime forces
Propulsion was by a combination of rowing/paddling and sailing. 85km/hr) at low water in spring to around four knots at high flood in the autumn. On the other hand the prevailing winds along the Egyptian Nile are from north to south and assisted travelling ship movements when sailed upstream. 72 Some smaller travelling ships had just a few paddlers. Rowing was also common during the Old Kingdom, with depictions including standing and seated oarsmen facing aft. Depictions of Old Kingdom travelling ships have up to 40 rowers, although from 16 to 28 rowers are more common.
52 The sailors, uau, were under the leadership of a petty officer, perhaps either the kherep-khenyt ‘chief of the rowers’, khery-khenyt ‘commander of the rowers’, or the tay-seryt ‘standard-bearer’. The ‘ship’s captain’, the hery-wesekh but also known by various other Egyptian terms, who was in charge of the crew and probably the ship itself, would have been of a higher status than the sailors. Promotion of ‘ship’s captains’ were most likely to a more prestigious ship. A number of senior officials had higher maritime commands like ‘chief of all the king’s ships’ or ‘chief of the broad ships of the god’s estate’.
In consequence of the continual changes which take place in the bed of the Nile, the most experienced pilot is liable frequently to run his vessel aground; on such an occurrence, it is often necessary for the crew to descend into the water to shove the boat off with their backs and shoulders. 42 Modern Nile boatmen are not much different from those of the early 19th century; they have great strength and endurance, and their knowledge of local nautical conditions match their intelligence and other worldliness.
Ancient Egyptian sea power and the origin of maritime forces by Gregory P. Gilbert