Ancient Mediterranean

Digital Project

Single-levelled galley

Cat. No.



c. 700 B.C.




L: 13.5 cm


Bronze fibula with decorated catch-plate, broad oval bow and sail-shaped foot. Attributed to the "boat master"/ship engraver artist

Accession Number

Athens National Museum 8199


Basch 1987: 192, no. 406; Coldstream 2003: 187, fig. 66a; De Vries and Katzev 1972: tafel 14; Hampe 1936: 116, no. 13, pl. 11; Morrison and Williams 1968: 77, Arch. 14; Spathari 1995: 70, figs. 72-73

Single-levelled ship to the left. The hull is completely flat, rendered by two parallel horizontals joined by nine regularly spaced vertical lines. The stempost is concave, integrating a beak-shaped ram and terminating in an incurving S-shaped horn with a diamond shaped tip. There are three short horizontal timbers tapering to a pointed tip projecting from the stermpost, the uppermost one located immediately below the base of the horn device, aligned with the top of the forecastle. The forecastle is a solid rectangle integrated to the bow. The stern resembles a thick half crescent intersected by three slightly oblique verticals. The sternpost is high and incurving, ending in an inward pointing horn with a diamond shaped tip. It rises very abruptly in a near vertical manner at the base since the keel line lacks the gradual upward taper towards the stern. Three short planks protrude from the sternpost similar to the bow. The stern compartment has a rail and a single triangle-shaped quarter rudder with a tiller. The mast is amidships, with a forked or bisected V top (karchesion). There is a forestay and a backstay attached to the castles. The ship's ram is remarkably similar in shape to beak of the left bird. The verticals along the hull are possibly ribs.

(Side A): Ship facing left. Perched atop the diamond tip of each post are two large antithetical birds. There is a quatrefoil rosette aft of the mast, and a large fish facing left swimming below the hull. The same decorative scaly pattern used for the body of the fish is used for the ship's hull

(side B): horse with a lead facing right, bird perched on his back facing right, four-pointed star between his legs. The plate is framed by intersecting semicircles, a characteristic attributed to the so-called "Ship Engraver." Coldstream thinks that this exemplar shows his style mid-career when he had begun to experiment with human themes. The reverse side shows a horse facing right with a bird on its back.

Basch, L. 1987. Le musée imaginaire de la marine antique. Athens: Institut Hellénique pour la preservation de la tradition nautique.

Coldstream, J.N. 2003. Geometric Greece: 900-700 B.C. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.

De Vries, K. and M. L. Katzev. 1972. "Greek, Etruscan and Phoenician Ships and Shipping," in G. F. Bass (ed.) A History of Seafaring. New York: Walker, pp. 37–64.

Hampe, R. 1936. Frühe griechische Sagenbilder in Böotien, Ate¬ne : Deutsches archäologisches institute.

Morrison, J.S. and R.T. Williams. 1968. Greek Oared Ships: 900-322 B.C. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Spathari, E. 1995. Sailing through Time: The Ship in Greek Art. Athens: Kapon Editions.

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