Ancient Mediterranean

Digital Project

Single-levelled galley

Cat. No.



Late Geometric II (c.730-725 B.C.)


Danaou Street no. 4 (Katsarosffi property), Argos


H: 4.9 cm; L: 7 cm. Ship dimensions: 1.4 cm (height of the hull), 4.7 cm (total height incl. mast), 12.1 cm (ship length). Ratio of c. 1:8.


sherds from oenochoe shoulder. Yellow buff clay. Argive workshop (clay analysis)

Accession Number

Argos Museum


Tzahou-Alexandri 1990: 340, 342-43, figs. 23-24

Midships section of a ship to the right. The hull is rendered in the ladder motif comprised of two horizontal lines intersected by verticals which likely represent the frames of the vessel. The upper horizontal line is the deck, as both the two rowers and the horse stand on this surface. The mast is located midway between two of the frames, flanked on either side by verticals to which it is joined by two pairs of superimposed oblique strokes. These represent the mast-step system which secured the mast in place. A trapezoidal sail hatched with diagonals representing the brails hangs from the yard. On each side of the mast is a rower facing left, with an upright torso and grasping at his oar with both hands. These sit on a raised rowing bench drawn as a rectangle filled with two crossing oblique strokes. The oars do not extend across the hull, giving the appearance that the rowers are rowing from the far side of the ship, at deck level. A horse facing left stands at deck level behind the second rower.

The depiction was located either in a zone around the shoulder of the vase, or in a panel on the shoulder under the spout. Tzahou-Alexandri thinks the latter is more likely.

This depiction is remarkable for several different reasons, including the rarity of Argive ship depictions in general, the transport of a horse, and the unusual detailing of the mast step system. The rendition also departs from the typical attic tradition of painting in silhouette, opting instead for the x-ray approach where the internal framing is shown, thus providing invaluable additional details of the ship in a cross section of sorts.

Tzahou-Alexandri, O. 1990. “Contribution to the knowledge of 8th century B.C. Ship Representations,” in H.E. Tzalas (ed.) Tropis II: 2nd International Symposium on Ship Construction in Antiquity. Delphi 1987 (Hellenic Institute for the Preservation of Nautical Tradition). Athens: Hellenic Institute for the Preservation of Nautical Tradition, pp. 333-61.

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