This volume summarizes the history and findings of the First Mariners Project, which the author, Robert G. Bednarik, commenced in 1996 in order to explore the Ice Age origins of seafaring. This is the largest archaeological replication project ever undertaken with several hundred people involved in the construction of eight primitive vessels with stone tools under scientifically controlled conditions, six of them sailing. Four bamboo rafts have succeeded in accomplishing the historically documented crossings they sought to replicate. One of the successful experiments, a 1000 kilometer journey to Australia in 1998, attempted to recreate the first human arrival in Australia, probably around 60,000 years ago. Other voyages attempted to address the much earlier sea crossings documented to have taken place in the islands of Indonesia, the earliest of which may have occurred nearly a million years ago. These experiments have also featured in BBC and National Geographic documentaries.
The First Mariners comprehensively describes the archaeological background and relevant issues of the project and features an extensive pictorial record, of both the experiments and the archaeological basis of this research – giving a unique experience to readers interested in understanding the earliest marine adventurers from a historical and technical perspective.