Ancient Mediterranean

Digital Project

Ship model

Cat. No.



end of LBA (?)





Terracotta model painted red

Accession Number


Basch 1969: 142-143, 146, fig. 2.2;1987: 67, no. 122; Dunand 1939: 223-25, no. 3306; Février 1949-50: 135, figs. 2-3; Knapp 2019: 126; Sauvage 2012: 239-240, fig. 75; Wachsmann 1998: 52, figs. 3.16, 3.17

The model stands on a plinth, reminiscent to those observable at the base of Egyptian Middle Kingdom models. Crescentic hull with perfectly symmetrical vertical posts and solid rectangular castles. The keel runs the full length of the hull on the inside, and protrudes horizontally at the stem and stern. The ends of four through-beams protrude from the hull-planking on either side. No frames are indicated.

Dunand, Février and Basch interpret this model as a Syro-Canaanite ship. Wachsmann argues instead that it represents a known Egyptian type of the New Kingdom. He notes however that it is not a local copy of an Egyptian model since all known Egyptian wooden examples of this ship type display hulls comprised of a solid block of wood. This suggests to him that the artist was able to observe such a ship at Byblos itself. Given the close relationship between Byblos and Egypt, these two interpretations are not necessarily mutually exclusive, given that technological transfers are to be expected. There are disagreements on whether this model is that of a commercial vessel or a galley. Basch goes so far as to claim that this model is identical to the Sea People ships from Medinet Habu, hence a galley (Basch 1987: 67).

Basch, L. 1969. “Phoenician Oared Ships,” MM 55: 139-162, 227-245.

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

Dunand, M. 1939. Fouilles de Byblos I: 1926-1932. Paris: P. Geuthner.

Février, J. G. 1949-50. “L’ancienne marine phénicienne et les découvertes récentes,” La Nouvelle Clio 1-2: 128-43.

Knapp, A. B. 2018. Seafaring and Seafarers in the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

Sauvage, C. 2012. Routes maritimes et systèmes d'échanges internationaux au Bronze récent en Méditerranée orientale. Lyon: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée-Jean Pouilloux.

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

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