When Was the Boat Invented? History of Boats [Video]

Boats can definitely be interesting and when it comes to how they’re used and what they are capable of they become even more so. Everyone from small children to adults is generally fascinated with boats and so it’s no surprise that you’re here looking to find out just where they came from and then some. So, let’s take a closer look. 

When Was the Boat Invented?

It’s safe to say that the boat was invented thousands of years ago. The earliest known building of water-faring watercraft was between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, although a canoe based on a hollowed-out log in the Netherlands is between 8,000 and 10,000 years old. They were invented at about the same time in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia near current-day Iraq, and the Indus River Valley in northern India.

These early boats were not like the large vessels that we see today, but rather simple canoes that were designed to cross smaller bodies of water. While we still see some of these types of boats today, they are still not quite the same as what we would have seen back all those years ago because they were made by hand and were very rustic rather than refined.

Who Invented Boats and Ships?

Although boats have been around for millennia, the inventor of the first steamboat was the American John Fitch. In addition, there are other big inventions to note! The first Marine Chronometer was invented by John Harrison in London. Another major invention is the screw propeller which was invented by a Scottish engineer, Robert Wilson, and an English farmer, Francis Pettit Smith.

Each of these men has made a mark on the evolution of watercraft and there are still more that have done even more moving forward. Ships came about at the end of the 18th century, but motorboats and large vessels like we see now took much longer. Each of these types of boats played a role in getting us to where we are now, however, and most definitely changed the way we see the world.

What Were Boats Used for in the Past?

The original major use for boats for humans was for traversing rivers and lakes to initiate trade and contact. This inevitably meant that they were used for war and exploration. Some primitive cultures used them to colonize, like the Polynesians and Phoenicians. 

What this all means is that the first boats were used for much the same purpose as we use them for now. They were designed to transport goods and people from one place to another. These boats were much smaller than what we have today, however, which means they were not able to travel such long distances and they were not able to carry as much cargo or passengers. 

What Came First Boat or Wheel?

As we’ve previously mentioned the first traces of a boat were between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago while the first built boat was 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. The first known traces of the wheel came just about 5,000 years ago. That makes the boat older than the wheel!

Even still, the wheel is definitely an old invention and it definitely improved a number of different parts of our world and the way we see it. The wheel also helped with boating so it’s something that has been tied in together. Boats, on the other hand, are as old as the humanity of any kind because they were crucial in trying to get from one place to another. 

What is the Oldest Boat in the World?

The oldest boat to be found is the canoe in the Netherlands from 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, which has been named the Pesse canoe. The oldest commissioned ship still in operation is the USS Constitution, which is known as Old Ironsides, which originally made its maiden voyage in 1798. 

These old boats are still in operation because they are still able to do what they were designed to do. That’s because they were made strong and because they are designed to stand up to the harsh conditions that are out there on the ocean. Each of these ships shows that there’s actually quite a bit to the process of making a boat and ensuring it’s completely sound because they’ve stood the test of time for so long. 

Where Can You See the World’s Oldest Boat?

The Pesse canoe can be found in the Drents Museum which is located in Assen, Netherlands on display with their archeology exhibits. If you want to see the world’s oldest commission ship the USS Constitution is located in Boston National Historical Park in Boston, Massachusetts.

Are There Any Real Pirate Ships Left?

The short answer is no, there are no famed pirate ships left afloat, although there are some replicas and pieces of old ones. Most pirate ships as seen in movies or books were taken out by organized navies of the world. Meanwhile, they found Blackbeard’s ship in 1996, nearly 278 years after his defeat.

Each of these old pirate ships would have been something to behold, but modern ‘pirates’ don’t sail in these types of vessels anymore. Instead, modern pirates tend to have very standard-looking boats or use small boats that they can zip around in quickly to get what they want and get back out again. This makes it far less exciting than anything you’ve likely seen in books or movies, but that seems to be the case with most things in the modern era. 


The world is definitely changing and a lot of things about how we live in it are changing too. The way that we make boats is one aspect that has changed over the centuries and it will no doubt continue to change in the future. But the fascination that we have with boats is unlikely to change. In fact, it’s likely that people will continue to become more and more interested in boats and everything that they can do. 

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