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Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

ARTICLES | 2011

25 March 2013

Minoan shipsheds

David Blackman Skyllis 11:2 (2011): 4-7.

Abstract

Covered slipways or, shipsheds’ were a diagnostic feature of military harbours in the classical world. A new dimension has been added to the subject with the discoveries at Kommos in southern Crete. In the mid-1980s a row of six long, narrow roofed galleries was revealed, dating to the Late Minoan IIIA1-2 period (14th century BC), interpreted as shipsheds, though they lay well inland. Some were slow to accept this interpretation, but have now been convinced that it is plausible by recent similar discoveries at the port of Knossos. At Poros/Katsamba excava­tions have revealed a row of six long chambers, perpendicular to the coast, which is now 150 m away. The structures were destroyed in the Late Minoan IIIB (early) period (ca. 1320-1250 BC). We thus have two plausible examples of Minoan, storage shipsheds’, but Minoan parallels for the later, covered slipways’ have not been found, except possibly at Gournia. Other possible sites are discussed, and also iconographic evidence. Finds at Kommos and Naxos in Sicily reveal the possible parallel use of haematite on ships as a colouring and pos­sibly also anti-fouling agent, at sites nine centuries apart in date.

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