Ancient Mediterranean

Digital Project

Two ships

Cat. No.



LM III (1420/10-1075/50)


Phaistos, Palace, Room 4 of LM III house west of the "piazzale de Teatro"


Base diam: 22 cm; conserved H: 30.7 cm; th.: 0.7 cm


Pitharaki (fragmentary), course pink clay with many impurities, whitish slip, black-brown paint

Accession Number

Phaistos Stratigraphical Museum F6370


Basch 1987: 133, no. 273; Laviosa 1969-70:11-15, figs. 3a-d; Wedde 2000: 97-99, 320, nos. 610-611

A80a: A flat hull with the left post rising at a straight angle. There are five oars which thicken into blades at their lower extremity. Remains of a stay and a mast. Antithetical fishes on each side of the mast.

A80b: Straight hull with right extremity rising at a straight angle. Remains of base of the right post and part of the mast. The height of the gunwale is proportionately higher compared to Aegean BA models in general, for which it possibly finds a parallel with C1 from Enkomi.

Although the two ships have essentially the same silhouette, there appears to have been an attempt made by the artist to distinguish the two vessels from one another, with A80a having a shallower hull as well as being equipped with oars. Wedde argues that "the Phaistos pitharaki could suggest that Aegean Bronze Age shipwrights may have constructed vessels of more or less identical silhouettes but differing draught and beam."(Wedde 2000: 98). The fragmentary condition of the two vessels however removes the certainty that they had identical extremities, with the oared one perhaps originally sporting a figurehead. If so, then the "artist may have painted the two ship types of the Late Bronze Age period, the Minoan roundship and the Mycenaean longship"(Ibid: 99). Wedde finally muses whether his type V represents a transitional step between the round-hulled Minoan ship (type IV) and the Mycenaean galley type VI, or whether instead the deep-hulled variant was introduced as a complement to the narrow-hulled type VI due to a perceived lack of sufficient cargo capacity.

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

Laviosa, C. 1969-70. “La marina micenea,” Annuario 47-48: 7-40.

Wedde, M. 2000. Towards a Hermeneutics of Aegean Bronze Age Ship Imagery. Peleus Studien zur Archäologie und Geschichte Griechenlands und Zyperns, vol. 6. Bibliopolis: Mannheim and Möhnsee.

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