Boat

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7500 BCE

With 70 per cent of Earth’s surface covered in water, there was always a demand for water-going transport — something that was first met in the mid-eighth millennium BCE. The earliest boats were dugouts: simple tree trunks hollowed out to form canoe-like vessels. But over the following centuries and millennia, they grew in size and complexity dramatically. Here we pull out some of the boat’s evolutionary stages up to the present day…

Canoe

Canoe

The inevitable evolution of the dugout, the canoe was fashioned around the world by peoples from the Americas, Europe and Oceania.

Chinese junk

Chinese junk

Developed in the Han Dynasty (206 BCE — 220 CE), this was a wooden, ocean-going transport and cargo vessel with fully battened sails.

Galleon

Galleon

A multi-decked sailing ship used for transport, trade and combat, the 16th-century galleon became famous for its speed and versatility.

Paddle steamer

Paddle steamer

Combining paddle-wheel propulsion and a steam engine, this became the most popular way to cross oceans in the late-19th century.