Ancient expedition across Atlantic begins

12th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

12 July 2007, New York (dpa) - A German biologist has set out to prove that ancient civilizations could have made the trip from the Americas back to the Old World, embarking on a more than three-month journey Wednesday from the US coast back to Spain.

12 July 2007

New York (dpa) - A German biologist has set out to prove that ancient civilizations could have made the trip from the Americas back to the Old World, embarking on a more than three-month journey Wednesday from the US coast back to Spain.

Dominique Goerlitz set off from New York in a prehistoric-style reed boat called the Abora III, constructed out of 17 tonnes of reed papyrus and fashioned with 16 leeboards - retractable foils - that he says aided seafarers with steering some 6,000 years ago.

Taking his cue from Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, the 41- year-old Goerlitz hopes to prove that people traversed between the old and new worlds as early as 14,000 years ago, and even conducted transatlantic trade.

"We want to rewrite the history of sea travel," Goerlitz said.

Heyerdahl's 1947 Kon-Tiki and later Ra expeditions proved that ancients could have used trade winds and ocean currents to drift westward around the globe to South America and the South Pacific. Goerlitz and his 10-person international crew hope to prove the opposite way was possible too.

The Abora III set sail after a small farewell party on the Manhattan waterfront. The first storm was already forecast for Wednesday afternoon.

"The team is well prepared," Goerlitz said. "Now its close your eyes and go, sail raised."

The boat is equipped with modern navigation and communications equipment. A German television team will be accompanying the Abora in a boat alongside for the first two days, after which Goerlitz and crew will be on their own.

First stop will be the Azores islands, where Goerlitz hopes to put in for fresh provisions by August 10 before moving on to Cadiz on Spain's southern tip and the Canary Islands.

Goerlitz, who is working on his doctorate in invasion biology at the University of Bonn, has cited evidence of plants known to have originated exclusively in the New World, like cocaine and tobacco, that were found in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian ruler Ramses II.

Vintage 6,000-year-old rock drawings in Egypt's Wadi Hammamat depict reed boats with keels on the side, which Goerlitz says demonstrate how the ancients could have undertaken their travels across the Atlantic.

DPA

Subject: German news

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