Ancient Mesopotamia was a hub for inventions that would change the course of the world. Not only did ancient Mesopotamians invent the wheel, written language and the concept of hours that last for 60 minutes, they also were the creators of sailboats, a major development in travel.
Invention of the Sail
Ancient Mesopotamians had boats before they had sails. The tiny vessels were generally constructed out of reeds. The rudimentary boats of the ancient Mesopotamians operated in a simple manner -- men that tugged on paddles provided the necessary power. Thankfully, it occurred to the Mesotamians that strong wind could just as easily provide power. This revelation led to the development of the sail in roughly 3,000 B.C.
Papyrus was employed to make sails in ancient Mesopotamia, not cloth. Papyrus was useful in that it was extremely easy to acquire in the lowland areas surrounding the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Mesopotamians made sturdy mats out of the plants and placed them in the middle of pairs of poles. This simple invention enabled the ancient Mesopotamians to take advantage of the wind.
Extensive Travel for Commerce
Ancient Mesopotamians put the sail to good use very quickly after its advent. Sailboats enabled them to participate in commerce with relatively faraway lands, including lands as distant as India. The sail helped ancient Mesotamia's status as a trading hub to skyrocket.
Increase in Water Transportation
The invention of the sail changed much about travel in ancient Mesopotamia. Travel via water become a more popular option among Mesopotamians who needed to travel. Previously, they relied heavily on significantly slower modes of transportation, including walking and carts. Boat travel was practical, as the bulk of Mesopotamians resided not far from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
- The University of Chicago News Office: It Happened First in Ancient Mesopotamia
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- Don't Know Much About Mythology; Kenneth C. Davis
- The History of Transportation; Judith Herbst
- Living in Ancient Mesopotamia; Norman Bancroft Hunt
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