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Replica pre-Columbian trading raft sets sail

For the first time in nearly 500 years, a full-size balsa-wood raft just like those used in pre-Columbian Pacific trade has taken to the water.

Based on drawings and descriptions recorded by Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch explorers, Dewan and Hosler figured out the dimensions and construction methods that most likely were used for the ancient craft, and reproduced these as accurately as possible. While some other attempts have been made to reproduce the ancient craft, including a one-third scale version built by Dewan and other students five years ago, none had previously copied the ancient designs and materials so precisely. No modern materials were used in the construction.

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