Maritime history dates back thousands of years. In ancient maritime history, evidence of maritime trade between civilizations dates back at least two millennia. The first prehistoric boats are presumed to have been dugout canoes which were developed independently by various Stone Age populations. In ancient history, various vessels were used for coastal fishing and travel.

Maritime history is the study of human interaction with and activity at sea. It covers a broad thematic element of history that often uses a global approach, although national and regional histories remain predominant.

The Age of Discovery was a period from the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century, during which European ships traveled around the world to search for new trading routes and partners to feed burgeoning capitalism in Europe. Historians often refer to the ‘Age of Discovery’ as the pioneer Portuguese and later Spanish long-distance maritime travels in search of alternative trade routes to “the East Indies”, moved by the trade of gold, silver and spices.