Portland author Lincoln Paine has a new book that will be on sale from Knopf later this month: “The Sea and Civilation: A Maritime History of the World” which retells human history through the lens of maritime travel. In breathtaking depth, Paine reveals how people first came into contact with one another by ocean and river, and how goods, languages, religions, and entire cultures spread across and along the world’s waterways. But above all, Paine makes clear how the rise and fall of civilizations can be traced to the sea.

Fascinating facts from the book:

• Humans began to ?nd their way on the sea tens of thousands of years before they domesticated dogs or cultivated crops.

• Among the oldest documented long-distance trades in the Indian Ocean are the shipping of elephants up the African coast of the Red Sea to Egypt in classical antiquity, and of horses from the Arabian Peninsula and Iran to India.

• Since antiquity, cloves, mace, and nutmeg have been a main driver of world trade. These are native to a group of a dozen islands in eastern Indonesia the combined area of which is about that of Nantucket.

• Although the Vikings are a byword for intrepid long-distance voyaging, sails were not adopted in northern Europe until the seventh century, only about two hundred years before the Norse and Danes started sailing across the North Sea.

• Outside of China, rivers and their related canal systems didn’t come into their own until the advent of steam propulsion in the 19th century, when markets in continental interiors were opened up to the rest of the world.

About his research Paine said, “I did a fair amount of reading, but the challenge wasn’t the reading itself so much as it was ferreting out the right things to read. I spent a lot of time in university libraries, including a week a month at Columbia for the better part of a year. In Maine I practically commuted to Bowdoin College for longer than that, and I availed myself of online services and the interlibrary loan program at the University of Southern Maine.”

He added, “The single most surprising discovery in my research has to be the symbiotic relationship between commerce and religion, which is ancient, profound, and universal.”

Paine has several Maine events coming up to promote his book including Nov. 14, at the Maine Maritime Museum; Nov. 16, at Royal River Books at the Royal Bean in Yarmouth; Nov. 20, at the Portland Public Library; and Dec. 12, at the Maine Historical Society.


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