Human beings have no limit to what they can do; or rather, the extent to which they can come up with new ideas and knowledge about nature. Still, it’s safe to say that what we see today are just mere developments from antiquity. After all, we are reminded that nothing is new under the sun, but with maritime shipping, it’s just interesting to start imagining how someone sat down and saw a transportation opportunity in water. Was it by chance, adventure or did someone spend himself on a fact-finding endeavour to discover water transport? That I can attest nobody knows for maritime transport dates back to a thousand years before any simplest form of civilisation.
45,000 years ago, it is believed that the Australian autochthons used boats for travelling to find food sources. Whether they joined logs to sail through or had some other boat structures, much is not known about that but it’s the earliest period that boat use has been predated to.
By around the 3rd century BCE, maritime trade routes had started emerging as people began exploring alternative trading partners or exploring beyond their boundaries. The Arabian Sea, nowadays surrounded by India and Pakistan, was the first main marine trade courses for early coastal sailing vessels. However primitive the vessels were, they provided an alternative to land transport; in fact, the science of navigation is said to have started around river Indus.
The vessels could navigate their route across the sea using mariner’s astrolabe as the instrument could tell the position of the moon, sun, stars or planets. It was at this period that the Romans also started embracing the art of sailing, building large commercial fleets and best commercial ships capable of crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
By the 7th century, the Arab empire began creating useful trade routes throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. It was until the beginning of the 15th century that the Europeans initiated massive discovery in maritime navigation and shipbuilding as they sought to trade across the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean as well. They needed to transport slaves from Africa to America and, in turn, ship raw materials such as sugar and tobacco back to Europe.
Modern Maritime Shipping
With the recent development, such as the construction of Panama and the Suez canals, modern maritime shipping has just seen global trade taken to greater heights with almost every part or the world connected. There has been a free flow of bulk commodities across the globe thanks to the highly improved modern ships.