Boat Carriers

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Yesterday my dad had his boat lifted out of the water like he does every autumn to keep the ice from damaging it. I hadn’t seen the lift they used before: it’s a remote-controlled motorised thing, fast and nifty. Note the yellow control box.

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This reminded me of a fairly common motif in Bronze Age rock art, the boat carrier. Boats are extremely common, and sometimes you’ll find a guy lifting the boat, crew and all. I think this is probably a depiction of the Sea God. But it may also be a human lifting a wooden ship model. We have a few bronze figurines that look like they may have adorned such models. Or it may be both: people perhaps played the role of the Sea God in cult drama, brandishing ship models.


One of the most elaborate boat carrier images is the Brandskog ship near Enköping.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

8 thoughts on “Boat Carriers”

  1. See, Daeniken was right, the ancients had anti-gravity devices.
    That, or it’s the picture of a drowning guy being run over by a boat.


  2. people perhaps played the role of the Sea God in cult drama, brandishing ship models.

    Someone complained that anthropologists postulate a god when they can’t explain something by any other means…

    But people actually did carry boats from one river or lake to another. The east route of the Vikings had several portages before they reached the Black Sea. Even today Finnish place names that refer to portages (with ‘taival’ or ‘taipale’ as a part) are quite common. The Swedish-speaking coast has many ‘drag’ or ‘edes’ names. One of them is in downtown Helsinki (Taivallahti/Edesviken).

    BTW, did the dragging of warships give them the name ‘dragon’? The cargo ships (‘knarr’) were too big to be dragged.


  3. i would think that if you did not have the understanding of what it took to float a boat that a god holding it up would work.


  4. Ah, but the lost caption for the Bronze Age picture was:

    Do not drink and row. Accidents happen when you drink and row!This message is paid for by the Baltic Sea Merman Foundation and the Visby Swimsuit Association. ‘Working together for a safe, orca-free Baltic… for all swimmers and floaters.’


  5. -Just a teensy weensy news item: Sävcon XI attracted a lot of role players this weekend. Maybe some of the readers are acquaintanced with people who went there?

    And the author of “Metro 2033” was interviewed on a Swedish culture TV program. Horace Engdahl* was there, praising East European science fiction (especially Eugen Zamyatin’s “We” that pre-dated “1984” by a quarter century).
    — — — — — —
    *The bloke that gets to say “this year’s Nobel laureate for literature is…”


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