Sailed Ships Opened Up the Oceans

The very first depiction of a sailed ship dates back to around 3300 BC in an Egyptian painting. These early boats featured a square sail as well as banks of oars.
As they were confined to the Nile River and depended on winds within the narrow channel it was vital to retain oars during times of insufficient wind speed.

This combination dominated early ships for centuries reaching heights in technological advancements with the triremes of the classical period.
The first sails were probably made of animal skins but these were replaced by woven reed mats and eventually cloth in predynastic Egypt.
Later, sails were made of woven flax fiber in Europe which is still used today though cotton has largely replaced it.
Sailed ships would enable mass exploration of the seas and open up new trade routes. They would, in effect, shrink the world and allow previously disconnect nations to exchange goods and knowledge.
They would also enable nations to expand their influence around the world and, in some cases, become the workhorses of empire.
Incentives like these would further drive advancement in ship technology and mechanical engineering to the present day.

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