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Native Americans fishing in dugout canoes in the English colony of Virginia . ( Engraving by Theodor de Bry 1585 after a watercolor by John White)
Native Americans making a dugout canoe. ( Engraving by Theodor de Bry 1590 after a watercolor by John White)
Dugout canoe in Stralsund
Dugout canoe on Lake Malawi

The dugout canoe (Greek monoxylon) is a common type of boat among indigenous peoples , but is also still in use in more modern societies. The trunk is made from a single log . Sometimes the side walls are reinforced by inserted frames and raised by adding a plank walkway , often called a pirogue . Cross benches that are not inserted, but are made from the trunk, are also characteristic.

Dugout canoe is probably loan translation of the Latin monoxilus , further from the Greek μονόξυλον - monoxylon , with the components monos "only" and Xylon "wood, tree".

History of the dugout

The dugout canoe is one of the original forms of the boat . Due to the lack of large tree trunks, it can be assumed that dugouts were not yet known in Central and Northern Europe during the last Ice Age ( Vistula Ice Age or Worm Ice Age ) and only appeared with the reforestation of the Post Ice Age ( Holocene ). As archaeological finds show, people already mastered the art of hollowing out a tree and using it as a means of transport in the Nordic Mesolithic (around 8000 to 4200 BC). The oldest archaeological evidence is the approximately 8000 year old dugout canoe from Pesse (province of Drenthe , Netherlands) and the dugout canoes from Stralsund (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) and a find from northeast Nigeria, Africa. The oldest surviving dugout canoe in the Mediterranean, at 7000 years old and almost 10 m long, was found in 1993 on Lake Bracciano in Lazio, Italy (La Marmotta 1).

While ethnographic sources (see pictures) show that the tree trunk was also hollowed out with the help of smoldering fire, there is no archaeological evidence of this in older prehistory. Are instead can assume that stone axes (are the oldest forms the core axes of flint ), since the Neolithic especially adzes were used for hollowing. A number of well-preserved Neolithic dugouts were found in pile dwellings of the Pfyn culture and the Horgen culture , for example over 40 at the Federsee alone. Dugouts have also been found in the context of Iron Age Crannógs .

Before Viking Age dugout canoes (with ribs ) are from the Delicious Au and Vaalermoor in Schleswig-Holstein . From the Šlivni Lake in Poland about 5 m long dugout of is the late Middle Ages obtained (14th century), in which a by two Amidships Scots formed in side plate height Bünn is worked out (container for live fish).

For example, dugouts were in use in the Spreewald until the 19th century. In the parlance of past centuries they were often called nauts .


British dugout canoes

The oldest dugout canoes found in Europe date from the Mesolithic (10,000 to 5,000 BC). During this period, sea levels rose by about 100 meters. The old coastal dwellings have been covered by the sea and have been lost to our knowledge.

The dugout canoe at Pesse in the Netherlands appears to be 8,265 ± 275 BC. To be the oldest in the current state of research. Its dating is uncertain, however, because there are two contradicting 14 C dates . In France the dugout canoe from Noyen sur Seine was dated 7,960 ± 100 BC. Dated. The dugout canoe from Dümmerlohausen, a district of Damme in Lower Saxony , was set at 7,600 ± 100 BC. Dated. The Gartrop-Bühl dugout canoe is around 17.0 m long and is the largest historical dugout canoe found in Europe. In Denmark two dugout canoes are ascribed to the 7th millennium. The Neolithic dugout canoe from Lake Bracciano is the oldest in Italy.

Of the 400 French dugout canoes, 55 have been scientifically dated. There are three from the Mesolithic, five from the Neolithic, two from the Chalcolithic, three from the Bronze Age , six from the Iron Age , five from the Gallo-Roman period, 30 from the Middle Ages and one from the Modern Age.

During archaeological excavations in the Egå valley north of Aarhus in Jutland in Denmark , the oldest dugout canoes were found in Lystrup Enge in Northern Europe from the early 1990s to 2001. According to 14C studies, they date between 5210 and 4910 BC. During excavations in Tybrind Vig , three trunks of linden and ash paddles were found. 25 boats of various sizes were found in Åmose.


Dugout canoes, depending also on the size of the trees in the local forest, can be of considerable size. In Equatorial Africa , dugouts can hold up to 70 people. Dugouts are still common today in many regions of the world, for example in Africa , South America , India and New Guinea . They are often provided with outriggers (see outrigger canoe ). Some groups also make dugouts with sails ( sailing canoes ). Regional forms with a standardized construction are, for example, the Mokoro ( Namibia ) or the Lagatoi boat ( Papua New Guinea ), which consists of several dugout canoes tied together .

Experiments on prehistoric dugout use

In the experiments "Monoxylon I" and "Monoxylon II" , Czech archaeologists proved the suitability of dugout canoes based on the Neolithic finds. The first expedition covered 300 km between Aegean islands, the second around 800 km along the Mediterranean coast.

Dugout finds

The oldest news about the archaeological find of a watercraft comes from the 18th century and relates to the Ni-56 dugout canoe from the Teufelsmoor in Lower Saxony , which was published in 1785. Later dugout canoe finds often come from bogs and peat cuttings - above all from the Federseemoor in Swabia, where 25 dugout canoes were known in the 1930s. The last report related to peat extraction dates from 1983 and comes from Berlin-Brandenburg. The first systematic investigations on dugout canoes are the investigations carried out by Oscar Paret in Federseeried, which began in the early 1920s .



Bronze age

Iron age

Roman Imperial Era / Migration Period

Early middle ages

Late Middle Ages

Unknown time

See also


  • Béat Arnold: Pirogues monoxyles d'Europe centrale, construction, typologie, évolution. In: Archéologie neuchâteloise , 20/21 (1995).
  • B. Greenhill: Archeology of the Boat. London 1976.
  • Emil Hoffmann: Lexicon of the Stone Age. Verlag CH Beck, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-406-42125-3 .
  • Ch. Hirte: On the archeology of monoxylic watercraft in northern Central Europe. A study on the representativeness of the sources in chorological, chronological and conceptual terms. Dissertation, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel 1987.
  • Sean McGrail: Logboats of England and Wales, with comparative material from European and other countries. In: BAR British series , 51 (1978).
  • Sean McGrail: The Ship. Raft, Boats and Ships. From Prehistoric Times to the Medieval Era. (London 1981).
  • Waldemar Ossowski : Some results of the study of longboats in Poland. In: Jerzy Litwin (ed.), Down the river to the sea: proceedings of the eighth International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archeology, Gdańsk 1997. ISBSA 8 (Gdańsk 2000), pp. 59-66.
  • O. Paret: The dugouts in Federseeried and in the rest of Europe. Prehistoric Journal 21, 1930, pp. 76-116
  • Sila Sokulu, Bo Ejstrud: Stockbåtar i Sverige - typologi och datering (Log-boats in Sweden: typology and chronology). Fornvännen 109, Stockholm 2014
  • Margot Wilhelmi: Ships: The Fascinating History of Shipping. From dugout canoe to container ship 2007
  • Renée Enevold: Pollen analysis undersøgelse af vege-tations- og fjordudvikling omkring fund af Stammebåd ved Lystrup Enge [1] dan.

Web links

Commons : dugout canoe  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Einbaum  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Hoffmann, p. 395.
  2. ^ P. Breunig: The 8000-year-old dugout canoe from Dufuna (NE Nigeria). In: G. Pwiti, R. Soper (Eds.): Aspects of African archeology. Papers from the 10th congress of the Pan African association for prehistory and related studies, University of Zimbabwe publications, Harare 1996, pp. 461–468.
  3. MA Fugazzola Delpino, M. Mineo: La piroga neolítica del lago di Bracciano ( "La Marmotta 1") , in: Bullettino di Paletnologia Italiana 86 ns IV (1995) 197-266.
  4. Page on prehistoric fishing
  5. Lystrup I 6110 ± 100
  6. Radomir Tichy, Monoxylon Expeditions 1995 and 1998. Facts about the oldest Sea Navigation. Experimental archeology in Europe. Balance sheet 2002. Issue 1, 2002, pp. 189–197.
  7. Summary report of the Monoxylon expeditions (Czech / English / French) ( Memento of the original from December 18, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.mamuti.cz
  8. a b Dugout canoes from Zurich waters ( Memento of the original from February 1, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 88 kB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / jkoeninger.de
  9. Tobias Pflederer, A "forgotten" dugout canoe in Lake Starnberg. News sheet Arbeitsskreis Unterwasserarchäologie 5, 1999, p. 68.
  10. Tobias Pflederer, A dugout canoe from the Latène period from Lake Starnberg. News sheet Arbeitsskreis Unterwasserarchäologie 9, 2002, pp. 17–19.
  11. ^ Christian Stradal, Cyril Dworsky, Two dugout finds from the Klopeiner See / Carinthia. News bulletin Arbeitskreis Unterwasserarchäologie 9, 2002, pp. 10–12
  12. Einbaumgalerie download page (scroll to Langbürgner See)
  13. Tobias Pflederer, Dugouts of the Chiemsee. News sheet of the Underwater Archeology Working Group 11/12 2005 (PDF online; 226 kB) ( Memento of the original from February 1, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / jkoeninger.de
  14. Tobias Pflederer, Dugouts of the Chiemsee. Municipalities of Prien a. Chiemsee and Breitbrunn a. Chiemsee, district of Rosenheim, Upper Bavaria. The archaeological year in Bavaria 2004 (2005), pp. 151–154.
  15. B. Arnold, Pirogues monoxyles d'Europe centrale, tome 2. Archéologie Neuchâteloise 21 (Neuchâtel 1996) pp 79-80; 85-86.
  16. Rosemarie Leineweber , Discovered in magazines, files and bodies of water: Dugouts in Saxony-Anhalt. News sheet Arbeitskreis Unterwasserarchäologie 15, 2009, pp. 83–92
  17. B. Eberschweiler, An eroded dugout canoe in the lakeside settlement Feldmeilen-Vorderfeld. Platform 4, 1995, p. 65.