Ancient Mediterranean

Digital Project

Ship model

Cat. No.



Proto-Geometric/ Cypro-Archaic


Cyprus, unknown provenance


L: 31.5 cm; H (amidships): 7cm; beam (amidships): 10 cm


Terracotta boat model, light yellow-red clay with dark painted decoration. The upper part of the stern aft is missing.

Accession Number

Nicosia Museum 1935 C.57


Basch 1987: 251, no. 529; Dikaios 1961: 204, no. 31; Göttlicher 1977: 37, no. 171a, pl. 12; Van Doorninck 1982: 279-80, fig. 5; Karageorghis 1996: 73, no. V(a): 1, pl. XLI: 1; Wachsmann 1998: 149, fig. 7.40; Wedde 2002: 841, 849, n. 21; Westerberg 1983: 19-20, no. 19, 91, fig. 19

Rockered hull, with a flat sheer through the main body that rises up into a triangular bow in an unbroken curve. Vertical stempost with a small rounded forefoot/cutwater at the base, and ending in a small outward protruding "horn" that probably represents a stylized bird head device. The sternpost curves gently, with its upper part broken off. There is a raised mast-socket amidships. Eight holes line the gunwale, with four of them placed aft in pairs. Two of them are c. 3 cm from the stern, while another pair is placed immediately ahead of the mast. The painted elements are unusually elaborate. The interior decoration includes the keel, and four evenly spaced transverse lines running from gunwale to gunwale that represent the frames. One of these frames is aligned with the mast-socket which is also painted dark. On the exterior, the keel, gunwales and stempost are all marked with a dark painted line. The triangular bow is painted with a cross-hatched pattern, delimited at the bottom with an oblique line that runs from the tip of the forefoot to the gunwale at at the point where the sheer becomes flat. On either side of the hull is a painted horizontal ladder motif. It is comprised of two parallel horizontal lines, one along the gunwale and another midway down the hull (c. 3 cm below), joined by sixteen parallel oblique lines. Based on the prevalence of the horizontal ladder motif in pictorial representations of ships, this likely represents the open tower's gallery with stanchions. The number of oblique lines on either side is the same, suggesting a 30 oared ship. In addition on the port side, there is a single short line painted vertically from the gunwale downwards. It is c. 1.5 cm long and about 6 cm aft of the bow. On the starboard side aft of the ladder pattern is a triangle in lighter brown colour (2.5 x 3 x 3 cm).

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

Dikaios, P. 1961. A guide to the Cyprus Museum. 3rd revised ed. Nicosia: Republic of Cyprus, Department of Antiquities.

Göttlicher, A. 1977. Materialien für ein Korpus der Schiffsmodelle im Altertum. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.

Karageorghis, V. 1996. The coroplastic Art of ancient Cyprus. VI. Monsters, Animals and Miscellanea. Nicosia: A.G. Leventis Foundation.

Van Doorninck, F. H. 1982. “Protogeometric Longships and the Introduction of the Ram,” IJNA 11.4: 277–286.

Wachsmann, S. 1998. Seagoing Ships & Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.

Wedde, M. 2002. “Birdshead Revisited: The Bow Morphology of the Early Greek Galley,” in H. Tzalas (ed.) Tropis VII: Seventh International Symposium on Ship Construction in Antiquity, Pylos, 26, 27, 28, 29 August 1999. Athens: Hellenic Institute for the Preservation of Nautical Tradition, pp. 837-56.

Westerberg, K. 1983. Cypriote Ships from the Bronze Age to c. 500 B.C. (SIMA, Pocket-books, 22). Göteborg: P. Åströms förlag.

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