By Gregory P. Gilbert
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Additional info for Ancient Egyptian sea power and the origin of maritime forces
Egyptian mariners were specialists in their field, whose work both removed them for long periods from their families and friends, and placed them in dangerous situations where they might never return to see their loved ones again. Papyrus Lansing describes how a scribe saw the hardships of the Egyptian mariners: The ship’s crew from every house of commerce, they receive their loads. They depart Egypt for Syria, and each man’s god is with him. ’ 44 18 A DEEP ER U N D E RS TA N D I N G O F MA RI T I ME E GYP T The Chester Beatty papyrus also describes these hardships and the fear of death by crocodile: As for the sailor, it is said that crocodiles have taken up their positions to spy on him, while the ship, the town, is in a fine predicament.
The use of human energy as the means of propulsion, with larger numbers meaning faster ships, did not significantly change. 73 During the early Old Kingdom, travelling ships had a removable bipod (or derrick) mast with a single trapezoid sail, (longer at the top than the bottom), positioned forward of centre at approximately one third the length of the vessel. The double mast and trapezoid sail were required to spread the weight of the mast upon the lower hull timbers and to avoid the central shelf that formed the ship’s deck.
The vizier Rhekhmire, and presumably most viziers, had a certain authority over the Egyptian maritime forces, but not even one of his titles hints at his command. This is also true for the majority of other commanders of maritime forces. For example, Nehesy who led Queen Hatshepsut’s expedition to Punt was ‘prince, count, treasurer of the King of Lower Egypt, sole companion, and chief treasurer’ but his biography makes no mention of a maritime related title. 21 A N CIENT EGYPTIAN S EA POW ER A ND THE OR I GI N OF M A R I TI M E F O RCE S Egyptian Beliefs and Ideology Most people know something about the complex system of Egyptian religious and secular beliefs.