The Pesse canoe is believed to be the world's oldest known boat, and certainly the oldest canoe. Carbon dating indicates that the boat was constructed during the early mesolithic period between 8040 BCE and 7510 BCE. It is currently housed in the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands.
The boat is a dugout style canoe measuring 298 centimetres (117 in) long and 44 centimetres (17 in) wide. It was formed from a single scots pine log. Marks are present in the cavity, likely formed from flint or antler tools.
The boat was discovered in 1955 during the construction of the Dutch A28 motorway. The route passes south of the village of Pesse in Hoogeveen through what was a peat bog. To construct the roadbed, the peat needed to be removed, and during excavation, a crane operator came across what he believed to be a tree trunk 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) below the surface. Local farmer Hendrik Wanders noticed the log and took it for further inspection. He gave the boat to the University of Groningen, where it was examined and freeze dried for preservation. It was later transferred to the Drents Museum, located near the discovery site.
A visiting Danish expert questioned whether such a small boat would be seaworthy. In 2001, a replica canoe was constructed by archaeologist Jaap Beuker and successfully paddled by a canoeist.
Others theorized that the find could be another object, especially an animal feeder. Beuker noted that animals were not kept by the people from the era the boat was made, so it could not have been a trough. The boat is also similar in construction to prehistoric canoes found in other countries.
- "Oudste bootje ter wereld kon werkelijk varen". Leeuwarder Courant (in Dutch). ANP. 12 April 2001. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- Wierenga, Jan (12 April 2001). "Kano Van Pesse Kon Echt Varen". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch). Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- Beuker, J.R. and M.J.L.Th. Niekus (1997). "De Kano Van Pesse - De Bijl Erin". De Nieuwe Drentse Volksalmanak (in Dutch). Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- Wanders, Rene. "Boot van Pesse" (in Dutch). Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- Niekus, Marcel J.Th. (4 April 1998). "Letter to the Editor". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch). Retrieved December 4, 2011.