In Beyond the Blue Horizon, bestselling science historian Brian Fagan tackles his richest topic yet: the enduring mystery of the oceans, the planet's most forbidding terrain.This is not a tale of Columbus or Hudson, but of much earlier mariners. From the moment when ancient Polynesians first dared to sail beyond the horizon, Fagan vividly explains how our mastery of the oceans has changed history, even before history was written. Beyond the Blue Horizon delves into the very beginnings of humanity's long and intimate relationship with the sea. It willl enthrall readers who enjoyed Longitude, Simon Winchester's Atlantic, or in its scope and its insightful linking of technology and culture, Guns, Germs, and Steel.
What drove humans to risk their lives on open water? How did early sailors unlock the secrets of winds, tides, and the stars they steered by? What were the earliest ocean crossings like? With compelling detail, Brian Fagan reveals how seafaring evolved so that the vast realms of the sea gods were transformed from barriers into highways that hummed with commerce. Indeed, for most of human history, oceans have been the most vital connectors of far-flung societies.
From bamboo rafts in the Java Sea to the caravels of the Age of Discovery, from Easter Island to Crete, Brian Fagan crafts a captivating narrative of humanity's urge to seek out distant shores, of the daring men and women who did so, and of the mark they have left on civilization.
The Vikings coined a word fintyr to describe humanity s restless need for exploration, but the urge itself has been felt on every shore throughout history. Drawing on a lifetime of sailing, Fagan (Elixir), U.C. Santa Barbara emeritus professor of anthropology, does more than reconstruct the sea routes and watercraft used by ancient mariners. He recreates their mental states and imagines what forces inspired them to leave the land behind. Tacking between first-person anecdotes, archeological explanations, and fictionalized scenes from the distant past, this salty work of historical imagination travels with the Micronesian outriggers that ferried moai carvers to Easter Island, the Egyptian timber barges that carried the cedars of Lebanon to the pharaohs, and the black ships that brought the Greek heroes to the gates of Troy. With today s diesel engines, GPS displays, and satellite communications, these long-cherished skills are all but forgotten. Few people alive today could do what Micronesian sailors accomplished millennia ago, let alone rival the skills of a master navigator like Christopher Columbus. Fagan has produced a loving tribute to their achievement, as well as a bittersweet testimony to the loss as well as gain brought by modern technology.