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The Development and Utilization of Ship Technology in the Roman World in Late Antiquity: Third to Seventh Century
AD. onstruction and Qualitative Analysis of a Sewn Boat of the Western Indian Ocean
- Jeffrey G. Royal
Chair: Hocker and Pulak
Dissertation: May, 2002
Nautical Archaeology Program
Between the third and seventh centuries AD, ship and boat construction underwent fundamental transformations for
both merchant and military ativities. The Roman Empire extended over a vast territory and included numerous cultural
groups, some of whose territories were overtaken while others immigrated. Beginning in the fifth century, there
were major socio-political revolutions in Europe and the Mediterranean as Germanic and Scythian kingdoms were established
on former Roman Imperial territory. Although these indigenous cultures were subjected to Roman influences, they
also made a cultural impact. A wide variety of technologies were part of the cultural elements exchanged, including
those associated with the construction and use of watercraft.
It is imperative to reevaluate transportation technology in this period based on a synthesis of archaeological,
iconographic, and historical evidence, and place it within the broader cultural and historical contexts.
This research attempts to trace the development in the trends of ship technology for the period and better understand
how cultural influences between the various polities and cultural groups of Europe and the Mediterranean affected
them. Furthermore, this work will elucidate the role of transportation technology in the building and maintenance
of the polities carved out of the territories of the Western Roman Empire after its demise. Thus, areas of investigation
include trade, redistribution, communications, and naval tactics.
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