The Jangada is undoubtedly the oldest type of ship known, and undoubtedly the first composite ship (made of several pieces) that is the origin of a lineage that continues today and represents hundreds of thousands of types of ships, Boats since then. The canoe, made of a single hollowed out room, left no offspring except the canoes to be balanced, but which already rank among composites. Pirogue and rafts are indeed the first types of wooden ships, in coccurence with the braided baskets that were ships in reed.

The raft, made from the simple discovery of the buoyancy of raw wood, is the logical consequence of the assembly of several branches, logs, treated or not. He was soon added an indispensable accessory, the gaffe, then when the bottoms were too high, rowing. The construction techniques of the raft were in some respects less pointed and less restrictive than those of a canoe. Moreover, its stability was much better. On the other hand, its speed was less than that of the canoe and it was much more difficult to manipulate or manipulate, its large surface being a source of inertia. Nevertheless, rafts rapidly spread over all continental liquid surfaces, lakes, ponds, rivers and rivers, since the somewhat loose and low structure of this type of craft made it in principle unfit to face the sea Evolutions led to its improvement with the modern jangada, which it was able to become a coastal fishing vessel.

It is in Brazil, on the northern coast which has long been isolated, that these rafts of balsa have characteristic forms, so much construction and equipment probably have not varied since its invention, about 2500-3000 years Av.jc. or more. The vestiges of such a ship are rarely found to be untraceable due to the putrescibility of the balsa used to make the raft itself, the climate, the nature of the soils (no acidic soils, poor in bacteria as in Scandinavia). .. The jangada is composed of a floor made of balsa trunks of reduced size (the jangadas of fishing do not exceed six meters), a retractable drift passing through one of the trunks, a light rudder associated with a Bench, and a single mast with sail to the third, fruit of a emprique evolution. The first sail was probably square.

The balsa rafts were unique to the east coast, they were also found on the pacific facade of south america, Thör Eyerdahl trying to demonstrate with his Kon Tiki, a kind of large jangada, that these ships could Traveling. It is certain that balsa had advantages over braided gorse, but it was a porous material that imbibed as a result of long exposure to sea water, which happened at Kon Tiki and nearly cost Dear to his crew. The jangadas are thus rather coastal boats made for fishing campaigns of about ten hours at most, the wood then drying in the sun. The rafts were born on rivers of continents and were adopted by the Chinese (originally junks), the Egyptians (nilotic rafts, originally gayassas), and was also likely to be used as ferryboats and Boat throughout northern europe.