IBERIAN SHIPBUILDING AND DESIGN IN THE DAYS OF CUTTING-EDGE PROTOSCIENCE (1570-1712)
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Out of 155 known shipwrecks around the world dating from 1600 to 1700, more than a third have been confirmed to be Iberian. Among Iberian wrecks, 37 have been destroyed, looted, or salvaged by treasure hunters and only 11 have been the subject of archaeological work. These statistics indicate that seventeenth century Iberian shipwrecks have suffered immence damage and loss. The devastation inflicted on the archaeological legacy of seventeenth-century Iberian shipbuilding, encourages our efforts towards its research and protection. Ships, the most complex machines built by people of the seventeenth century, embody the broader picture of the Scientific Revolution, which encompassed the recovery of ancient knowledge and groundbreaking new discoveries in astronomy, mathematics and physics. All of this knowledge exerted a direct influence on contemporary nautical sciences. This disseratation explores the poorly acknowledged influence of the transition from synthetic (or Euclidean) geometry to analytical (or Cartesian) geometry on shipbuilding. I emphasize the influence of the wave of inventions of calculating devices and measuring aids in the shipbuilding industry. This period plays a major role in the bifurcation of shipbuilding and ship-design, marking the emergence of naval architecture. The performance of vessels could not be predicted yet, but coefficients, algorithms and the coordinate system made the shapes explicit before the ships were built. I aim to better understand the influence of Cartesianism, at a time when shipbuilders were still attached to empiricism from a philosophical perspective. I have studied the published shipwrecks, primary and secondary sources to reconstruct the history of naval architecture, tracing the variation in the design and construction of the vessels. My research provides further evidence on the tension between empiricism and rationalism.
Borrero Londoño, Ricardo (2021). IBERIAN SHIPBUILDING AND DESIGN IN THE DAYS OF CUTTING-EDGE PROTOSCIENCE (1570-1712). Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from