Did Vessels Beach in the Ancient Mediterranean? An assessment of the textual and visual evidence

By Gregory F. Votruba, published February 2017


The practice of beaching seafaring ships in the ancient Mediterranean is a widely accepted phenomenon. This paper examines the evidence for beaching and outlines the various methods, tools and technology employed. While habitual beaching for seafaring vessels is testi ed for the Geometric Period Aegean, for later periods the evidence is primarily negative. With the increasing robustness of the structure and weight of ships, the addition of the ram for naval vessels, and developing economic circumstances leading to the necessity of round merchant vessels, habitual beaching became impractical also in this region. In the Mediterranean, where the low tidal range practically precludes the technique of tide beaching, both galleys and merchantmen were largely restricted to anchoring and mooring.

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Filed under: Antiquity | Mediterranean
Subjects include: Ship Handling & Seamanship

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