Ancient Mediterranean

Digital Project

Two single-levelled galleys

Cat. No.



Possibly 7th century


Sanctuary of Aetos, Ithaca


L: 17 cm


Unworked bone with incised decoration

Accession Number


Gray 1974: G26, no. H6, pl G XIe; Heurtley and Robertson 1948: 117, no. 44, pl. 46:c44; Morrison-Williams 1968: Arch. 25

Two identical single levelled ships to the right. The right one slightly overlaps over the bow of the left ship. Flat hull with a gently curving sternpost. A thin double line along the gunwale. Left ship has a triangular quarter rudder filled with a crosshatched motif. Crosshatched incisions decorating the hull.

The sanctuary of Aetos does not appear to have operated prior to the PG period and only takes off in earnest during the Geometric. Mycenaean pottery (mostly LH IIIC, some LH IIB) found both in the sanctuary area and in the settlement to the north west however suggest earlier occupation. The island appears to have had a mediating role between Corinth and Italy, being strategically positioned along the maritime sea-lanes going north and south. Connections with Italy are attested as early as the PG period. Corinthian imports are attested from the first half of the 8th century. Possible connections with Euboea are also in evidence, as indicated by an early inscribed vase from Ithaca (c. 700) which shows Euboean influences (Jeffrey 1990: 230), while one Ithacan kantharos has been considered a copy from a Euboean original (Coldstream 1977: 188). Tying these two connections together, Otranto and Messapia have been argued to show a networks of material culture (pottery and bronzes) linking Ithaca, Corinth and Euboea (Melissano 1990: 41-42). In the 8th century, the small dedications attest to a variety of contacts: amber (probably reaching via Italy and/or the Adriatic), miniature bronze amulets similar to ones from Macedonia, stone scarab seals from Cilicia, and gold ornaments from Crete (see Malkin 1998: 64-74 for overview with references).

Dating is uncertain. Heurtley and Robertson thought that the subject and technique recalls LG and SPG Boeotian fibulae but the carving is much simpler.

Gray, D. 1974, Seewesen. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht.

Heurtley, W. A. and Robertson, M. 1948. “Excavations in Ithaca, V: The Geometric and Later Finds from Aetos,” The Annual of the British School at Athens: 1-124.

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

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