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Sail is one of the major human inventions. It allowed ships to move faster and not to depend on oars and power of human hands. Sails were invented some 7000 years go and are still in use. Read more about history of sailing and sails.
Since the earliest desire to cross the seas, people built passenger ships which helped them in that. Ship grew bigger in time and today and today we have cities on water that can circumnavigate the globe. Check out timeline of ships.
Maritime history begins at the time of the earliest humans when we used anything that would float to cross the water that we could not swim across, and is important as it was then.
Vikings were skillful shipbuilders and excellent navigators. Their ships are considered one of the greatest technical and artistic achievements of their times. Some Viking ships even lasted to this day.