Category Archives: Aegean Shipping & Trade

Gurob Ship 3-d Model

The Gurob Ship is a small ship model excavated by assistants of W. M. F. Petrie in Gurob, Egypt, in 1920. Recently the model has been re-examined by Shelley Waschmann.

Wachsmann believes that the model offers evidence of the “sea peoples” and explains his analysis in “The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and Its Mediterranean Context“.  His “Seagoing Ships and Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant” is one of my favorite books so I’m particulalrly interested by this new work, There’s a good summary/review  the Aegeus Society web site but at £55 I’ll try and find a library copy.

There is also a useful digital supplement that is freely available  at This is interesting because it uses a 3-d model to show the reconstructed model in a way that allows web viewers to exlore it in some detail. This was a technique we practiced in the Brown MOOC, so it’s interesting to see it in a real archaeological project.


Hvar Fortress Museum

I’ve been on my hols and had an excellent trip from Rome to Venice via some ports on the Dalmatian Coast. One place we dropped into was Hvar in Croatia.

In the fortress overlooking the town is a small but  informative museum exhibiting finds from local wrecks. They are later than my real areas of interest but the finds from Lastovo, Palkagruza and Cape Izmetišće wrecks were interesting. In particular the collection of 2nd century CE ceramics from the Cape Izmetišće underline the importance of maritime trade for bulk transport of goods – over 2500 pieces were recovered.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mainly for my own benefit I recorded the English museum captions and took a few (not very good) pictures: Hvar Museum Captions. I’ve not found other material about these wrecks on-line so posting them here might make them better known.

If this encourages you to go to Hvar, then terrific : it’s a lovely spot and while the climb up to the museum is hard work on a hot day the view from the top and the lemonade in the cafe are worth it!

A Short Chat About Nile Boats

One of the exercises on my Brown course was to try out the Screenr platform. It’s surprisingly difficult to keep it inside the 5 minute limit and record something that sounds sensible even if (a) you script it and (b) you have a reasonable amount of presenting experience.

Still for better or worse here’s a link to the chat on the role of Nile shipping in Egyptian history.

Ο Διολκοσ – The Corinth Transporter

Before the Corinth Canal there was another way from the Adriatic to the Aegean – across the Isthmus of Corinth on the Diolkos.

Although its a bit later than my sphere of interest – it started in around 600BCE and ran until the mid-first century CE – it is nevertheless a fascinating example of the effort that was put in to enabling trade (possibly).

Western end of the ancient Greek ship trackway...

Western end of the ancient Greek ship trackway Diolkos across the Isthmus of Corinth in Greece. Bank erosion of the adjacent Canal of Corinth has damaged the ancient ashlar paving. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a 20 minute animated video (shared by Kallioi Efkleidou on the Aegeanet message board) which shows features of the maritime voyage of a trade ship arriving at the Gulf of Corinth, crossing the Diolkos and ending up at Kenchreai before leaving for Cyprus. (There is also quite a bit on other technological marvels of the era) It was produced by the ASSOCIATION of ANCIENT GREEK TECHNOLOGY STUDIES (EMAET) & the Technical Chamber of Greece.

I’m not sure about some of the detail (were they still using ox hide copper ingots at this time, for instance, I don’t know?) but its a terrific piece of work.

This is the Greek commentary version.  It is also available in two parts on You Tube, with an English commentary here : Part 1  and Part 2.

There is a controversy over the preservation of the Diolkos with claims that excavated areas have not been conserved and are being damaged by today’s shipping (a Facebook group campaigns for its preservation) , debate over whether its primary purpose was military or trade and uncertainty over just how it was used. (Wikipedia).

As always the more we learn the more there is to learn!

Ancient Seafaring in the Mediterranean

Here’s the 2010 ACSA paper on the mesolithic and palaeolithic finds on Crete that support a 130,00 years ago date for the earliest seafarers reaching Crete….

but now there’s suggestion of an even earlier date….

Pushing the Boat Out

Maritime trade in the Bronze Age Aegean is one of my interest areas and rock carvings are one of the important sources of information about the craft of this era.

Βραχογραφία της 3ης π.Χ. χιλιετίας με παράσταση πλοίου στην Αστυπάλαια. (c) TO BHMA

Βραχογραφία της 3ης π.Χ. χιλιετίας με παράσταση πλοίου στην Αστυπάλαια. (c) TO BHMA

These carvings were recently shown on the web site “TO BHMA”.

Roughly translated the remarks relating to the carvings are:-

“The rock paintings, 70 cm long depicting ships and vertically textbooks and spirals, were revealed by archaeologist Andreas Vlachopoulos, an assistant professor at the University of Ioannina,  in Vathy Astypalaias (halfway between Thira and Kos).

English: Clay frying-pan vessel with incised d...

Clay frying-pan vessel with incised decoration of a ship. Found at Chalandriani on Syros island. Early cycladic II period (Keros-Syros culture, 2800-2300 BC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They are located beside three landscaped pathways that lead to a small gated entrance to the Cycladic acropolis of the island which dates from the 3rd millennium BCE . The ships are oared and three of them have to bow their fish (?) and other various issues. They are similar to the ships shown on “frying pans” in  the prehistoric citadel of Chalandriani Syros (Wachsmann 1998, p71, 72) and rock paintings of Naxos. (Wachsmann 1998, p74) The same typology of rock paintings have been found in other parts of Astypalaias.”