Shovel, spade or side rudder? A special find from Ezinge. In 1933, excavations in the terp of Ezinge (province of Groningen) uncovered an object made out of oak in a house dating from the beginning of the 5th century BC. The object was recorded as a wooden shovel. Its asymmetrical shape, in combination with its lack of handle and its perforated shaft, however, suggest that it may not be a shovel (or a spade), although the possibility cannot be ruled out altogether. The shape of the object seems suitable for use as a side rudder, used to steer a long, dugout canoe powered by multiple paddlers. The earliest side rudders reported in the literature from northwestern Europe are from the late Roman period in southern Scandinavia. If the object could be proven to be a side rudder, it would be a rare find. It would also be one of a very small number of finds that can be associated with boats in the maritime landscape where Ezinge was situated. We recommend experimental research to better understand the use of dugout canoes and side rudders, and to reassess similar objects that have been recorded as shovels or spades.
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