How Was Sea Travel in Ancient Times?

Sea travel had been an essential mode of transportation for centuries, and it has enabled people to explore the world’s vast oceans and seas. However, in ancient times, sea travel was a perilous journey that required great skill, courage, and determination. Let’s take a closer look at how sea travel was in ancient times.

The Beginnings of Sea Travel

The history of sea travel dates back to prehistoric times when humans discovered the ability to navigate waterways using rafts made of logs or reeds. Over time, boats became more sophisticated, and people began using them for fishing, trade, and exploration.

Ancient Egyptian Boats

The ancient Egyptians are known for their advanced boat-building skills. They built ships that were used for trade along the Nile River and the Red Sea.

These ships were made from reeds and papyrus plants that were woven together to create a durable material. The Egyptians also built larger ships with multiple decks that could carry goods and passengers across the Mediterranean Sea.

Phoenician Ships

The Phoenicians were another ancient civilization known for their prowess in shipbuilding. They built fast and agile ships called galleys that had oarsmen who could row in unison to propel the ship forward quickly. These ships were used for trade along the coastlines of Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Ancient Greek Ships

The ancient Greeks were also skilled shipbuilders who built triremes – long warships with three rows of oars on each side. These ships were used for naval warfare and could ram into enemy ships with great force. The Greeks also built cargo ships called freighters that transported goods across the Mediterranean Sea.

Risks Involved in Ancient Sea Travel

While sea travel was essential for trade and exploration, it was not without risks. Storms, rough seas, and piracy were common dangers that sailors faced. Disease was also a significant risk on long sea voyages, as ships were often crowded and unsanitary.


Piracy was a widespread problem in ancient times, particularly in the Mediterranean Sea. Pirates would attack merchant ships, steal goods, and take hostages for ransom. Many sailors lost their lives or were captured by pirates.


Disease was another significant risk that sailors faced on long sea voyages. Ships were often crowded and unsanitary, making them breeding grounds for diseases like scurvy and dysentery.

In Conclusion

In ancient times, sea travel was a perilous journey that required great skill and courage. However, it was also essential for trade and exploration.

The advanced boat-building skills of civilizations like the Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Greeks paved the way for modern shipbuilding techniques. While risks like piracy and disease made sea travel dangerous for ancient sailors, it also opened up new opportunities for trade and cultural exchange that have shaped our world today.