Universiteit Leiden

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First trials with Iron age dugout canoe

On the 6th of July, wood specialists, members of the canoe club Natsec, a professional boat builder, volunteers of the Vlaardingen Broekpolder and students and staff of the Faculty of Archaeology of the Leiden University gathered on the waterfront in Vlaardingen. Two reconstructions of prehistoric canoes were waiting for them there to be tested on loading capacity, speed and manoeuvrability.

Iron age versus Mesolithic canoe

One was the reconstruction of the 10,5 m. long Iron age canoe of Vergulde Hand in Vlaardingen, the other was the much smaller reconstruction of a Mesolithic canoe discovered in Hardinxveld-Giessendam.

Both canoes performed satisfactorily. Even when loaded with 17 people the large canoe wasn’t swamped and its speed was impressive when paddled by six to eight experienced paddlers. It left its smaller counterpart far behind. But, as expected, the smaller craft was much handier in the water.

Continued testing

The data gathered that day by staff and students will be used to design more specific experiments in the near future. We also hope to test the canoes on larger water with bigger waves and stronger winds and we all look forward to see whether the large canoe can be used at sea.

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