AO Magazine - November 2019
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For millennia, humans’ innate curiosity about their world has sparked a desire to explore, leading men and women to cross vast seas. In doing so, they faced untold dangers and hardships: merciless weather, unpredictable winds and waves, sea raiders and pirates, fragile vessels, rough conditions, and weeks or months in an immense, unknown expanse.
In this issue, we explore some of what has been Lost at Sea – pirate treasures, a ship’s crew, castaways, bottles with hidden messages, and even a mysterious set of floating blocks containing cryptic inscriptions which, for over a century, have been washing up on beaches across Europe.
History is replete with stories of both heroics and tragedies of seafarers as they set off on quests to discover new lands, to trade, (or to raid) across unchartered waters. Maritime historian Professor David Abulafia takes us on a journey through the human history of the ‘Boundless Sea’, as ancient people around the world set a course across the vast oceans.
Faced with uncertainty and isolation on these treacherous voyages across the world, a rich mythology emerged. Legendary creatures lurked in the depths of dark waters, and a myriad of mermaids and sea maidens lured sailors into the sea, never to be seen again.
Surviving maritime perils, we come ashore and explore some weird and wonderful accounts from history: the jaw-dropping Buddhist ritual of Self-Mummification, the lost Roman invention of unbreakable, flexible glass, and historical coincidences whose odds were so incredibly small that they appear almost miraculous!