To study history means submitting to chaos and nevertheless retaining faith in order and meaning. — Hermann Hesse
It’s true…man is a terrestrial animal and cannot efficiently move on, above, or below the waves without the use of vessels. Man can swim in the sea, but he cannot breathe in the water. There are no fancy monuments made of marble or stone at sea. Go to any stretch of ocean where something notable happened and you will likely find nothing but a flat expanse of H2O that looks the same for miles in every direction.
Most of us forget just how impactful the water has been in shaping our world and our lives. Life itself very likely began at sea. Ancient civilizations flourished around the Tigris, Euphrates, and Indus rivers. The islands of the Pacific were populated by seafarers possessing some of the most advanced navigational skills of their time. Naval battles have been waged on the seas and have enabled or halted entire invasions. Trade routes at sea are far more efficient than overland routes. Today, more than 90% of all goods are transported by the shipping industry. There’s a good chance that your phone, computer, car, various household items, and probably the very clothes on your back were manufactured in another country and shipped by boat. If 2/3rds of this planet is covered in water, then why don’t we study more about how it influenced us and our history?
My bottom line is that I want this blog to focus on the often neglected aspect of maritime history. It will occasionally also necessitate us looking at the field of history itself and how our perspectives inform our interpretations. As they say, our perception is our reality.