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I realise that was a lot of material to cover in one class, but when you break it down, there are so many similarities between the ships that it becomes much simpler.

At the start of the class I talked about how both the Uluburun (c. 1350 BCE) and Cape Gelidonya (c. 1200 BCE) ships were built with pegged mortise-and-tenon construction. These ships were both Syro-Canaanite in origin (ie from the Levant, or modern Syria-Israel-Palestine). These civilizations developed into the Phoenicians who were some of the greatest mariners in the Mediterranean world.

We also talked about the 4th-century BCE Greek merchant ship found off the coast of Kyrenia, Cyprus in 1967. This ship was also built using pegged mortise-and-tenon construction. Here are some YouTube videos of one of the Kyrenia reconstructions if you need a distraction from studying:

So, looking at the evidence you might think that all ships in the Mediterranean between the Late Bronze Age and the Late Classical period (ie Uluburun to Kyrenia) were built using pegged mortise and tenon construction. But in fact the Greeks used a different system for building ships that we haven't seen yet in class.

Giglio, Bon Porté, and Jules-Verne 9

These three ships can be grouped together, because for the purpose of this class the ships are built identically. I won't ask specific dates on the test but it's a good idea to have a general idea where things fit, as it makes it easier to remember the general sequence. That being said, Giglio dates to 580 BCE, and was found off the island of Giglio between the French island of Corsica and the Italian mainland. Bon Porté was found in the Baie de Bon Porté on the south coast of France, east of Marseille and dates to 540 BCE. Jules Verne 9 was found in Marseilles (which was a Greek colony called Massalia, (founded by the Phocaeans - who lived near modern Foça, Turkey, FYI - in 600 BCE).. and was abandoned between 525-510 BCE.

Important construction features:

1. Tetrahedral notches.

These are triangular notches cut on the inside face of all the planks. You can see them below in the photo. They're triangular because they were cut with a pointed chisel. These tetrahedral notches help to guide the holes that are driven through them to the outside of the plank, and they're spaced every 2" (and no I'm not going to ask how far apart they're spaced, but just to give you an idea how many holes there were)

Tetrahedral Notch


You can the tetrahedral notches above. In the side view to the right, the INSIDE of the boat is to the left, and the outside, to the right. The holes are driven diagonally through the notches, and exit the planks at the corner/edge of the plank. They meet up with holes coming from the next plank. Therefore when you look at the seam of the planks from the outside of hte boat, it looks like one hole, when in reality it is two holes, one from each plank that meet at the same spot on the outside of the hull.

In addition, every 8" or so there was a round dowel joining the planks. They would drill a round hole halfway through the edge of the plank, and another halfway through the edge of the next plank, and put a dowel in the two holes before pushing them together. This helped hold the planks together before they were actually laced. The holes and dowels are just like unpegged mortise and tenons - the mortise is the hole, the dowel is the tenon, except these are round, instead of rectangular. Remember, these aren't pegged, so you need the lacing to actually hold the planks together and keep them from pulling apart.


Here you can see how they're laced. Before they're laced, the shipwright would place several strips of cloth down over the seam on the inside of the boat to help make the seam watertight. Then he'd start lacing. The lacing goes down the hole to the outside of the ship, back up the next hole in the next plank, directly across the seam, back down the first hole, back up the second hole again, and then it gets passed over diagonally to the next set of holes. No, I'm not going to ask specifically how these are laced, so don't worry about memorizing that. By the way, Jules Verne 9 was laced with linen cords.

The frames are trapezoidal in section. They're narrower at the bottom, where they're in contact with the planks, than they are at the top. The top of the frames is rounded over smoothly. This is because the frames are lashed into place. If you look at the drawing above, the dashed lines show where the frames sits. The inside lines are the bottom of the frame, against the planks, and the outside dashed lines are approximately the widest point of the frame. You can see the holes on either side of the bottom of the frame, which are also diagonal and meet on the outside of the hull in a single hole. So the important thing to remember is the reason that they are this shape is because they are lashed to the planks. The frames are also widely spaced - about 3 feet, two inches apart. Again, I won't ask for that specific number, but a question about trends might come up, and over time there is a tendency to space the frames closer together.

The bottom of the frames are also recessed where they sit over the seams. Below, you can see that over ever seam, the bottom of the frame is cut away. This is so the frame doesn't rub against the lacing underneath it, because if you chafe the lacing, the boat will leak, or worse, fall apart.


Lastly, these vessels are all round-bottom ships. See how the garboard sits against the keel at a 90-degree angle, and each other plank is slightly more angled? Viewed in section the middle of this boat looks like a semi-circle; hence, round-bottomed.

Jules Verne 7

This was also abandoned between 525 - 510 BCE in Marseilles but was probably built a bit later than Jules Verne 9.

This ship is built with pegged mortise and tenon construction. However the extremeties are laced. The lacing is exactly the same as above.

The frames are exactly the same as the first group. They're trapezoidal, notched, the whole works. EXCEPT they are NAILED to the planks with iron nails. They are not lashed any more. So all of the features of the frame that make sense with lashing are no longer necessary. They don't need to be rounded on the top, because they aren't lashed in place. They don't need to have the recesses for the lacing, because most of the boat isn't laced. But as the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. They're making frames they way they've 'always' made frames and it will take a while for them to change their mind. They're spaced the same distance apart as JV9 - about 3 feet 2 inches. It has a round bottom.

Gela 1

This ship was found off the south coast of Sicily, which had numerous Greek colonies in antiquity. It dates to 500 - 480 BCE. This ship is laced on the keel and the first three strakes, and then pegged mortise and tenon joints above that. The lacing system is exactly the same as before. The frames are exactly the same as before, and like JV7, iron-nailed to the planks. So again the rounded/trapezoidal section serves no purpose. This time, they are only recessed above the seams with lacing, but not the seams where there is no lacing, unlike JV7 which has recesses where it doesn't need them. Gela 1 is round bottomed.

Gela 2

This one dates to 450 - 425 BCE. It is built entirely with pegged mortise and tenon construction. However it features some small repairs which are laced. As you can see below, this is the first ship that we have evidence for a wine-glass hull profile. This allows for a deeper draft, more lateral resistance, and better sailing qualities.


The frames of the Gela 2 ship are more closely spaced, about 2 ft 3.5 inches, instead of the standard 3ft spacing of the earlier ships. They're still trapezoidal and recessed, which again is totally not necessary because the ship is not laced, and the frames are nailed to the hull.

Ma'agan Mikhael

Ma'agan Mikhael was found off the coast of Israel, but its ballast stones indicate it had sailed from the Aegean, and is Greek in origin. It sank about 400 BCE. Again, this ship is built using pegged mortise and tenon joints. However, AFTER the ship was finished, they laced the extremities. This lacing went THROUGH the mortise and tenon joints. The ends of the planks are laced to the keel, and to a knee reinforcing the keel / post joint. But this is totally unnecessary lacing and represents the conservatism inherent in shipbuilding. The ends are laced because that's the way they had always been done. People didn't trust new technology, they trusted what worked for their fathers, so lacing the extremeties was a kind of symbolic gesture that made the ship seem better.

But it wasn't, because it was almsot brand-new when it sank. Oops.

The morties and tenon joints of Ma'agan Mikhael are smaller and further apart than Kyrenia (built 389 or so) so it is a more lightly-built ship.

It has a wine-glass hull profile. Again, allows for a deeper draft, and better sailing qualities.

It also had stanchions supporting deck beams, which supported a deck through the whole length of the ship. This is the first fully-decked ship we have archaeological evidence for in the Mediterranean.

The frames, again, are trapezoidal in section, even though they are nailed to the planks, and not lashed. By this time though they do not have unneeded recesses on the bottom. They do have a few, but these are to help bilge drainage - the water that always accumulates in the bottom of the hull.

Miscellaneous points

The frames of all these ships feature floor timbers hook-scarfed with futtocks, forming continuous frames. This is different from Kyrenia, where the floors and futtocks are NOT joined together, they're just spaced next to each other. Also, Kyrenia has regularly-spaced floors and half frames.

After the planks were laced, small dowels were driven into the holes from the inside to plug it up. Then inside was covered with a heavy layer of pitch.