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By Gregory P. Gilbert

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Reconstructions of the obelisk barges vary, but one version has two obelisks being transported on a single obelisk barge: length 63m, beam 25m, height amidships 6m, draught 2m, thickness of planking 30cm, deadweight 800 tonnes, and displacement under load 1500 tonnes. The barge is depicted being towed by 30 travelling boats, each of which is rowed by around 30 oarsmen. The progress of this massive cargo vessel being towed by such a flotilla of travelling boats, with 900 men rowing, would have been an amazing sight; one which, although essentially for peaceful purposes, would have been an excellent visual signifier of Ancient Egyptian sea power.

Western sea powers – those nations with strong maritime traditions – do not automatically generate freedom or the so-called Western values of liberalism, democracy and capitalism. Rather, all societies, should consciously safeguard the values that they most cherish. 16 Chapter 3 — A Deeper Understanding of Maritime E gypt Egyptian Mariners Understanding Egyptian sea power requires an understanding of the people who served in the Egyptian maritime forces. Mariners often have special customs, traditions and a distinct language that creates a distinction between them (the people of the seas) and the rest of the societies to which they belong (the people of the land).

The actual extent of Egyptian sea power also fluctuated in association with Egyptian royal power, and it will be possible to see how the characteristics of actual Egyptian maritime operations changed over time when the evidence is examined later in this book. For now let us examine the evidence for the characteristics of Egyptian sea power during the Prehistoric Period and the rise of the Egyptian state. The earliest Egyptian boats were practical craft used for fishing and transportation rather than physical embodiments of Egyptian sea power.

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