Herodotus – Armenian Ships Built with Twigs and Skin

Herodotus – Armenian Ships Built with Twigs and SkinBook I, 180: “The city [Babylon] consists of two areas. Through the city flows a river named the Euphrates, which’s headspring is located in Armenia. This large, deep, and fast river flows into the Red Sea.” Book I, 194: “In Armenia, which is located further north from Assyria, Babylonians cut willow twigs for the framework of their ships.

From the outside, the framework is covered by thick skin to form the [round] bottom of the ship. Then, the ships are getting filled with straw [for the protection of cargo], loaded with cargo, and put in water. Down the river, they mainly transport pottery with Phoenician wine. Upon arrival in Babylon, the traders sell their goods as well as the wicker framework of the ship and the straw.

They then load the left skin on their donkeys and return to Armenia. After all, it is impossible to sail up the river because of the flow. That’s why ships are built not with solid wood but with twigs and skin. And after the traders are back in Armenia, they build new ships the same way.”

In antiquity, Phoenician wine was considered the best kind of wine and was in favor of Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek nobility. Interestingly, Greeks called Armenian wine Phoenician. There was no point whatsoever in importing wine from Phoenicia to Armenia and then exporting it to Babylon. Wine was brought to Phoenicia, Greece, and Babylon mostly from Armenia. It is known that during the times of the Kingdom of Van, Urartians made excellent wine and exported it to many countries.

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