Archaeology beneath the Sea

Archaeology beneath the Sea

Archaeology beneath the Sea

Archaeology beneath the Sea

Excerpt

THE great double-bladed bronze axe bit deeply into the wood. The voyager had risen at dawn to fell the tallest trees on the island; this was the twentieth and last to topple. He stripped branches from the trunks and, with a polished metal adze cut smooth planks to form a hull. With an auger he bored holes for wooden pegs to hold the planks fast.

Within four days the boat, wide as a broad-bottomed merchantman, was finished. Decking was complete, and mast, yard, steering oar, and cloth sail were ready. He spread a layer of brushwood dunnage over the interior of the hull before hauling it down to the shore on rollers. With meat, a leather bag of grain, and skins holding wine and water, the sailor bade his beautiful helper good-bye and sailed out onto the wine-dark sea.

On the eighteenth day of his voyage, a canopy of lowering clouds blackened the sky. Confused winds whipped the sea into unruly hordes of whitecapped peaks. A mountainous wave shattered the tiny craft, tearing planks apart and scattering them like chaff. The sailor, first clinging to a single timber and then swimming alone, reached one more foreign shore. His adventures were not yet over.

The sailor, of course, was Odysseus, known also by his Latin . . .

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