Testing ancient technology

Testing ancient technology

A full-size balsa-wood raft, crafted like those used in pre-Columbian Pacific trade, set sail on the Charles River May 10, piloted by students in MIT’s Materials in the Human Experience course. The last such castoff occurred 500 years ago.

The replica was based on an analysis carried out by Professor Dorothy Hosler and her former student Leslie Dewan ‘06, which was published last year in the Journal of Anthropological Research.

The replica was built to confirm the computer analysis of the craft’s size, capacity, and construction and to prove that such a vessel could have made voyages of thousands of miles along the Pacific coast between Mexico and Chile ferrying goods a millennium ago. More tests follow this summer.