Transport around 4,000 BC

The Globe




Southwest Asia



In defense of the dynastic race theory, carvings on an ivory knife handle from the town of Gebel-el-Arak (near Denderah, 250 miles south of Cairo) and paintings on the walls of a late-predynastic tomb dated to 3500 BC at Hierakonopolis suggest invasion of the Nile Valley by a seafaring people. Some believe the style of the ornamentation on the knife handle to be Mesopotamian or possibly Syrian. The scene possibly represents a sea battle against invaders; this is also depicted in the Hierakonopolis tomb. Both of these show Egypt's native ships and strange vessels with a high prow and stem, unmistakably Mesopotamian in origin. There is also the discovery of late-predynastic graves in the northern part of Upper Egypt, where the skulls unearthed were of greater size and the bodies were larger than those of the natives. According to Walter Emery, the difference is so distinct that any suggestion that these people derived from the earlier stock is impossible. (Before the Pharaohs)

In the fourth millennium, the pre-dynastic Egyptians, who seem to have come under Sumerian influence, used vessels as much as 100 feet in length. It is also recorded that Pharaoh Sneferu, at the close of the third dynasty, in one year made a ship 170 feet long and sixty ships of 100 feet long. In the next year, he built three more ships 170 feet long. (The God-Kings & the Titans)

(The Guardian, London, 21 December 1991): A fleet of 5000-year-old royal ships has been found buried eight miles from the Nile. American and Egyptian archaeologists discovered the 12 large wooden boats at Abydos ... Experts said the boats - which are 50 to 60 feet long - are about 5000 years old, making them Egypt's earliest royal ships and among the earliest boats found anywhere... ...some of the boats might have been as much as 72 feet in length. Like the 140-foot ocean-going vessel found buried beside the Great Pyramid at Giza, one thing was immediately clear about the Abydos boats - they were of an advanced design capable of riding out the most powerful waves and the worst weather of the open seas. According to Cheryl Haldane, a nautical archaeologist at Texas A-and-M University, they showed 'a high degree of technology combined with grace'. Exactly as was the case with the Pyramid boat, therefore (but at least 500 years earlier) the Abydos fleet seemed to indicate that a people able to draw upon the accumulated experiences of a long tradition of seafaring had been present in Egypt from the very beginning of its 3000 year history. Moreover I knew that the earliest wall paintings found in the Nile Valley, dating back perhaps as much as 1500 years before the burial of the Abydos fleet (to around 4500 BC) showed the same long, sleek, high- prowed vessels in action. (Fingerprints of the Gods)

Indus Valley

...this is what the discoveries at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro have now placed beyond question. They exhibit the Indus peoples of the fourth and third millennia BC, in possession of a highly developed culture in which no vestige of Indo-Aryan influence is to be found. They have domesticated the humped zebu, buffalo, and short-horned bull, besides the sheep, pig, dog, elephant, and camel; but the cat and probably the horse are unknown to them. For transport they had wheeled vehicles, to which oxen doubtless were yoked. (The God-Kings & the Titans)




4000 BC: The first evidence of man on horseback dates to this era. It was discovered in Ukraine, where pastoralists of the steppes were probably the first to tame and ride horses. (81)

Determining the earliest use of the horse has long been a problem of archaeology. Recent discoveries support theories, held by Russian anthropologists, that people began riding horses at least 6,000 years ago in the nomadic societies of what is now Ukraine and southern Russia. Such an early date could mean that horseback riding was the first significant innovation in human land transport, not the invention of the wheel. Only later did the practice spread south to Mesopotamia. Dr. Zarins said this interpretation of the earliest partnership between horse and human "is now beyond dispute." An analysis by David W Anthony, an archaeologist at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, of the wear by ancient bridle bits on a 6,000-year-old stallion's tooth was crucial in settling the issue. (86)

Domestication requires not just capturing individual wild animals and taming them, but getting them to breed in captivity and modifying them through selective breeding so as to be more useful to us. Since the domestication of horses around 4000 BC and reindeer a few thousand years later, no large European mammal has been added to our repertoire of successful domesticates. Thus, our few modern species of domestic mammals were quickly winnowed from hundreds of others that had been tried and abandoned. (The Third Chimpanzee)

…wheeled vehicles were unknown before 3300 BC, but within a few centuries of that date they were widely recorded throughout Europe and the Middle East. The first evidence of horse domestication is for the Sredny Stog culture around 4000 BC, in the steppes just north of the Black Sea, where archaeologist David Anthony has identified wear marks on horses' teeth that indicate use of a bit for riding. (The Third Chimpanzee)

Simultaneously with the appearance of the Vinca and the LBK, in the mid sixth millennium BC, the Danilo-Hvar settled on old abandoned sites along the Adriatic coast of Dalmatia in several of the fertile valleys that cut through the mountains to the sea. They crafted a now-famous pot decorated with a sailing ship, depicting masts and rigging dated at about 4000 BC.(Noah's Flood)

South America

The role of animal domestication in early Peru is unclear, but llamas and guinea pigs were certainly domesticated in central Peru by 3500 BC. As in Mexico, however, hunting continued to play an important role in many areas until quite late. (Patterns in Prehistory)



North America