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Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Oceans

3.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  151 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
In Beyond the Blue Horizon, archaeologist and historian Brian Fagan tackles his richest topic yet: the enduring quest to master the oceans, the planet’s most mysterious terrain. We know the tales of Columbus and Captain Cook, yet much earlier mariners made equally bold and world-changing voyages. From the moment when ancient Polynesians first dared to sail beyond the horiz ...more
Hardcover, 313 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Bloomsbury Press (first published March 14th 2004)
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May 11, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
As the title mentions, this is about how the earliest mariners navigated the world's oceans before compasses and charts. We are speaking of the famous Polynesian explorers who populated the islands of the South Pacific, the Phoenicians, and the early trade between Ancient Egypt, Babylonian, and Indus civilizations as an example. A lot of the material is speculation as there are very few archeological remains of boats. One must turn to artifacts such as pottery, beads and ores and determine their ...more
Jan 21, 2015 Dave rated it really liked it
An interesting survey of prehistoric seafaring. Fagan divides his book into sections based on geography which turns out to be especially helpful because these regions share ocean and wind characteristics, and so developed a common seafaring culture. He is able to color the discussion of those characteristics with his own extensive experience sailing different kinds of boats. I could tell that this book was a passion project of his.

It’s well-written and not very difficult to follow, through it mi
Aug 11, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
This was a good non-fiction book about how and why the earliest men (and women) in various areas of the globe first took to the sea; I can’t say it was a great book, because it is very long on speculation and the author’s personal sailing experience and short on real information.

In order, the author considers the birth of seamanship in the Far East, Greece, the Indian Ocean, Scandinavia, and a chapter covering both the lower Canadian / United States west coast and the Yucatán Peninsula. The auth
Timothy Dymond
May 19, 2015 Timothy Dymond rated it really liked it
Information just pours out of this book in an overwhelming torrent: Irish Monks sailing out from Ceide Fields; the canoe voyages across the Sunda and Sahel shelves of SE Asia; the mysterious Lapita people who spread across remote Oceania; the sailing canoes of Polynesia; the meltemi winds that rip across the 'wind-dark sea' in the Mediterranean; the Uluburun wreck that told us how wealthy was ancient trade; the Erythraean Sea (the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean); the 'stone towns' of trade along ...more
Jul 01, 2014 HBalikov rated it really liked it
Fagan cautions, early in his introduction, that there are at least two approaches to reading Beyond the Blue Horizon:
1. You can start at Chapter 1 and read through to the end;, or
2. You can can choose a section devoted to a particular place on the globe, finish it and chose another.

I liked the latter. I bounced around soaking up some great insights Fagan offers as an archaeologist, sailor and historian. Whether talking about indigenous tribes navigating the coast of Germany or Alaska or the Nors
Feb 05, 2016 Ethan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brian Fagan explores how the mariners of different early cultures took to the seas to venture "Beyond the Blue Horizon" as it would be. As a side note, I just love that title, it's so evocative. Fagan describes how cultures as different as the Polynesians, Greeks, Native Americans and Scandinavians explored first the near shores then ventured out, some for thousands of miles and some not much farther than the coast. He delves into the various geographical reasons such as tides, trade winds, freq ...more
Joe White
May 06, 2013 Joe White rated it liked it
Shelves: on-shelf, boats, history
This is a rather fast breezy overview, covering some aspects of cultures and trading, based in specific regions of the world where archaeological and historical research has been performed. The regions included:

The Pacific, specifically from Malaysia to across New Guinea to most of the Polynesian islands;

The Aegean Sea, with mention of some of the Eastern Mediterranean trade routes and societies;

The East coast of Africa and the Middle East to India over the Arabian Sea and close in Indian Ocea
Jan 13, 2013 Steven rated it liked it
I like books about the history of ocean exploration in general, which is why I gave this a go. It was really quite god, although it went more into the types of boats used, their construction, and how they were sailed than I expected. This wasn't a bad thing, but not something I gathered from the title.

The book is broken down into group of chapters having to do with ocean-going in various geographic areas, the peoples involved, and how ideas about sailing developed in those places. He covers sout
Margaret Sankey
Nov 02, 2012 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it
Fagan combines his personal expertise as a lifetime sailor with archaeological materials to explore the maritime civilizations as they took the breathtaking leap from coastal waters into the great unknown. For each, he examines how their culture, their available materials and their particular body of water combined to produce a unique seafaring expertise and relationship with the waves, turning up such gems as the importance of memorized landmarks in the Iliad, the effect of the regular rhythms ...more
Nov 04, 2014 Frank rated it really liked it
Broad, sweeping novel full of generalizations and guesswork but fascinating to read just the same. Author does a good job of drawing you in to each specific epoch and culture then imagining how they would have perceived the world. Very interesting.
Fredrick Danysh
Jan 02, 2015 Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it
The author, an anthropologist, discusses the history of ancient seafaring cultures with conjectures on equipments, causes, and roots. This work provides another view on the peopling of the Asian islands and the Americas as much as 50,000 years ago.
Carson Kicklighter
Feb 20, 2014 Carson Kicklighter rated it it was ok
Cool look into the worldview of the first mariners, but rather rambly. Didn't make it past the second chapter.
George Cassidy
Take ten pages before bedtime. Better than Nytol.
Christina Dudley
Nov 19, 2013 Christina Dudley rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A comprehensive book about how different cultures from prehistory until mostly the Renaissance, viewed the seas and navigated them. Depending on which cultures interested you the most, the book could range from fascinating to a little dry, and Fagan must rely on much informed speculation. I liked when he inserted anecdotal history and brought things to life, since I lean more toward the KON-TIKI, nitty-gritty, here's-exactly-what-it-was-like school of adventure writing.
Cliff Mccollum
Jul 08, 2014 Cliff Mccollum rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not recommended. This was one of the most boring historical pieces I've ever read. It is buried in so many names, terms and words foreign to non-sailors that I never felt like I was actually paying attention. Finally, about 60% of the way through I just gave up.
Jan 02, 2016 Doug rated it did not like it
I actually didn't finish this one. Anthropology just doesn't interest me that much; I thought there would be more focus on ship-building and seafaring, but the author seemed to focus on human origins, with much speculation of details that have no proof.
Aug 06, 2012 Ron rated it liked it
A brief look at the beginning of sea exploration in southern Pacific, Mediterranean, North Atlantic region and Pacific Northwest (Alaska to California). Due to lack of evidence, based on number of conjectures, but mildly interesting.
Very interesting read from my history of archaeology class. I learned a lot about archaeology and antiquity from reading this book. Some parts were drier than others, but other parts seemed straight out of an Indiana Jones film.
Matthew Stuart
Oct 02, 2013 Matthew Stuart rated it really liked it
Another of my boat books. He gives a good overview of sailors from around the world.
Steven Price
Apr 08, 2013 Steven Price rated it it was ok
A little difficult to follow the general run of the story. Not the best.
Aug 22, 2012 Lili added it
i enjoy everything written by B Fagan. this book was esspeccially good
Aug 12, 2012 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sailing, hns
Where on earth did I put this book?
Kelly Flanagan
Kelly Flanagan rated it it was ok
Feb 02, 2016
Db rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2016
Jeffrey White
Jeffrey White rated it it was ok
Jan 31, 2016
Cheryl marked it as to-read
Jan 25, 2016
Steve Romar
Steve Romar marked it as to-read
Jan 22, 2016
Mary E Hansson
Mary E Hansson rated it it was amazing
Jan 21, 2016
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Brian Murray Fagan (born 1 August 1936) is a prolific author of popular archaeology books and a professor emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA. Fagan was born in England where he received his childhood education at Rugby School. He attended Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied archaeology and anthropology (BA 1959, MA 1962, PhD 1965). ...more
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