Preliminary Study on the Depiction of Hulls on Medieval Ship Graffiti in the Mediterranean
Damianidis, Kostas (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Architect, PhD

Ship graffiti are by far the richest known body of iconographic evidence depicting ships. Almost every year, new studies on this subject appear in reports and publications of monuments. Some of these depictions are carefully executed, giving a lot of information concerning types of ships, maritime activities and even nautical events. Some of them are very simple or naïve, with very vague depictions of ships. In all of them, however, some basic elements are shown, which allow us to identify them as ships. These are mainly the hulls, sometimes with sails or oars.

Apart from the hulls' outline, more lines are often carved in the drawing. In these cases the 'artists' may have intended to depict specific materials, some structural or morphological details. Furthermore it seems that certain types of lines appear on ship graffiti from different periods and areas. For example, parallel lines following the sheer of the deck seem to represent strakes of the hull; vertical or oblique lines, extended bellow the outline of the hull, may represent the oars or the rudders; and, several other kind of lines, in zigzag, criss-cross or oblique forms, not extended beyond the outline of the hull, seem to depict some elements of the hull or the gunwale.
In this paper, I undertake a comparative study of different lines on ship graffiti hulls, recorded at various places in the Mediterranean. Apart from their interpretation, the aim is also to introduce a preliminary typology concerning the depiction of ship hulls.

Archaic Ship Graffiti from Southern Attica: Typology and Contextual Analysis
Langdon, Merle K. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Van de Moortel, Aleydis (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
University of Tennessee
Since 1994 Merle Langdon has discovered hundreds of ancient engravings cut into exposed surfaces of marble bedrock in an area of approximately 12 square kilometers located near the modern communities of Vari and Vouliagmeni, some 20-30 kms south of Athens, Greece. The finds include both verbal and pictorial engravings. Among the latter are about 250 depictions of ships, consisting mostly of longships, but including also merchantmen and vessels that are of other types or are too damaged to classify. A few ships are labeled: two are identified as simply naus; two others as holkas; two as pentekonteron; and one or two as triakonteron.
On the same and nearby rocks there are some 1200 inscriptions (281 complete and 925 fragmentary), mostly simply stating that "I am so-and-so." Sometimes the inscriber added that he was a shepherd (poimen) or goatherd (aipolos). There is no vocabulary to suggest that any of the writing is dedicatory or symposiastic in nature. Letter forms, layout and orthography show that none of the writing can be dated after 500 BCE. In general, the ship depictions agree with this, as they find their best parallels in Attic Black Figure vases of the 6th century BCE.
In this paper we present an overview of the various types of ships and boats represented among these engravings, and we explore the possible meaning of these ship graffiti through contextual analysis. The spatial distribution of these graffiti is discussed in relation to those of other images and writing. We also consider their relationship to geographical and geological features as well as to known Archaic settlements, sanctuaries and other sites in these areas. We conclude that we are dealing with casual graffiti, cut at the whim of individuals.

Ship Graffiti on Tegulae from the Roman Villa Maritima in San Giovanni in Istria, Croatia
Katunarić Kirjakov, Tea J. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Arts Academy of University Split, Croatia
Graffiti of two boats have been found on two fragments of roman tegulae, excavated in cultural strata of a villa maritima with its own port, in San Giovani near Umag, Istria, Croatia. The boats are depicted in profile, without many details, and both were curved after firing the tiles. One of them shows only half of a boat hull, as the rest of the tile is missing. The other graffiti show the same type of boat with one mast and lateen sail. Both graffiti seem to depict local traditional small fishing boats but their date is still unclear. The tiles were found in the surface strata of the villa, among an abundance of ceramic fragments dating from the second or first century BC to Late Antiquity. Since then and until the construction of two modern houses in 2005, the area of the villa must have been plough- or meadowland. Although almost no Medieval artefacts were found during the villa excavations, the bay of San Giovanni was the main port of the region in the Middle Ages and the core of the village with the church was probably built during that period. As the tegulae with the boat graffiti were found not far from the church, they could be interpreted as medieval votive gifts.
Roman and Byzantine Ship Graffiti in Israel
Friedman, Zaraza (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Independent Scholar
A considerable number of ship graffiti, dating from the second century BCE to the sixth century CE have been found carved on objects or the walls of various architectural settings in Israel: burial caves, Herod's Royal Palace at Masada, Christian religious complexes, and the ancient synagogue at Ein Gedi. These ship graffiti are valuable pieces of iconographic evidence for the period when they were produced; some indicate the profession of the person who made them, but many seem to be ex-votos of travelers from overseas, who had just reached the solid ground of their destination in the Holy Land.
Some of the ship graffiti indicate strong links to Cyprus, the southern coast of Turkey, the Aegean and Egypt, but many are lost or are preserved in very poor condition. As no comprehensive study of these ship graffiti has been carried out in Israel thus far, the purpose of this paper is to discuss their context, the types of vessels and their details (rigging and steering gear, building material) as well as their symbolism.
Seamen on Land: A Preliminary Analysis of Ship Graffiti on Cyprus
Stella Demesticha (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
University of Cyprus

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the first results of a two-year research programme of the University of Cyprus, entitled 'KARAVOI: The Ship Graffiti on the Medieval and post-Medieval Monuments of Cyprus: Mapping, Documentation and Digitisation'. The project is funded by the Leventis Foundation and aims to contribute to the broader study of the maritime cultural landscape of Medieval Cyprus.
Having visited 170 monuments throughout the island, the KARAVOI team has recorded more than 200 nautical graffiti, dated mostly between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. The types of ships varied significantly and were not always easy to identify. Nonetheless, some main groups could be distinguished: small boats or one-mast coasters without particular details, western Mediterranean cog-shaped ships, Ottoman galleys and nineteenth century merchantmen. The geographical distribution of the monuments with ship graffiti, on the roads connecting urban centres and monasteries, is indicative of some interesting patterns regarding the identity of the carvers and the interpretation of the graffiti themselves. Thus, and thanks to the broad chronological and geographical spectrum of the research, the graffiti collected allow for a more comprehensive analysis of the ship graffiti phenomenon on the island.
Identifying Western Ship Graffiti on the Walls of Cypriot Medieval Monuments
Delouca, Katerina (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>)
Independent Researcher
The aim of this paper is to discuss the typology of a specific group of nautical graffiti recorded during the KARAVOI research program, that of ships with prominent western features. The ship graffiti in question can be found in St. Marina Frenaros and St. George Teratsiotis, both 16th century monuments in the Famagusta District. They are elaborate ship depictions and provide us with morphological and structural details. In order to identify the types of these ships, we attempt a comparative analysis with other iconographic sources.

Ship Graffitti and their Setting: the case of St. George Teratsiotis near Avgorou, Cyprus
Nikolas Bakirtzis (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), The Cyprus Institute
Ropertos Georgiou (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), The Cyprus Institute
Mia Gaia Trentin (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), University Ca' Foscari of Venice
Dante Abate (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), The Cyprus Institute
Marina Faka (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), The Cyprus Institute
Despina Papacharalambous (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.),The Cyprus Institute
At short distance from the village of Avgorou, the domed church of St. George Teratsiotis marks the location of a centuries old religious tradition. Besides its dedication 'Teratsiotis', which links the church with the surrounding carob-trees, little is known about the building, its function and patron. Beyond the church's architecture and surviving frescoes, with a suggested date at the end of the fifteenth / beginning of the sixteenth century, an impressive concentration of ship graffiti on its interior walls raises questions related to the church's importance, use and the reasoning behind the elaborate execution of numerous representations of boats, presumably dating to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The documentation of the Teratsiotis graffiti for the purposes of the KARAVOI project provided an optimal case study for the implementation of advanced imaging and visualization. The utilization of digital tools and applications has been a central part of the project's effort to propose and establish a new methodology for the analysis, study and preservation of maritime graffiti. In this framework, this paper offers a preliminary attempt at a holistic methodological approach to a single monument preserving ship graffiti. The results of this interdisciplinary effort, which included Reflectance Transformation Imaging, Photogrammetry and Drone photography, 3D scanning, provides the basis for some preliminary thoughts on aspects of the historical, architectural, artistic and topographical context of the church's maritime graffiti.
Tracing Sea and Land Routes through Travellers: Graffiti and Written Sources.
Trentin, Mia Gaia (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Department of Humanities, University Ca' Foscari of Venice
Thanks to its geographical position, Cyprus has been on the sea routes connecting East and West since antiquity. Written sources provide significant information on the travelers' presence on the island during the Medieval and pre-modern periods; in pilgrims' and voyagers' accounts we find details about their travels on Cyprus and their relationship with the locals. Graffiti can complement these sources significantly and fill gaps often present in the texts.
Within the context of the program KARAVOI, it was possible to survey and document a large number of monuments, collecting not only nautical graffiti, but also other drawings and inscriptions. This paper considers all the non-nautical graffiti collected from the surveyed sites, focusing on Greek and Latin inscriptions. Considering them on a local and regional scale, it is possible to define their distribution and integrate the information provided by the texts. The combination of these two sources – written accounts and graffiti – provides a starting point for tracing inland routes that were in use during the Medieval and pre-modern periods. Furthermore, the study of the graffiti can provide interesting insights into the differences between Latin and Greek approaches to the churches, something that adds to our understanding of these buildings' function throughout their history.
Neophytou, Andonis (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
University of Cyprus
The KARAVOI project aims to document new graffiti found on monuments around Cyprus as well as to digitize existing drawings and images, in order to create a centralized depository in a custom designed database. This seemingly simple task hides more issues than initially caches the eye.
The intricacies of ships as a subject matter, with their diverse types and methods of shipbuilding, have made the strenuous task of interpreting the graffiti lines rather complex. The processes and methods of transforming the graffiti scratches into digital line drawings lured us to a quest for more detailed and complex methods of documentation. The intention was to gain more interpretative power by documenting minute details in high accuracy and at a level of precision that the use of tracing paper and basic photography cannot deliver. This presentation outlines the methods and tools used in the KARAVOI project, assessing the lessons learned and setting the ground for future directions in the documentation of similar materials.

A Digital Imaging Methodology for the Recording of Maritime Graffiti in Cyprus
Georgiou, Rovertos (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
The Cyprus Institute
Papakosta, Lefkothea (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
The University of Cyprus
With the advent of computational photography in humanities and the development of computer graphics algorithms, derivative methods with intuitive and reliable results appeared in the scientific domain of imaging. These derivatives accommodate visual stimuli and cognition and have proved to be highly beneficial for the authentication, documentation and interpretation of surface morphological information, otherwise non-visible to the naked eye.
The application of Reflectance Transformation Imaging Technology (RTI), a computational photographic method, has offered great possibilities for research as well as for the documentation and digital preservation of cultural heritage objects and works of art across the world.
In the context of the KARAVOI project and in collaboration with the University of Cyprus, the Imaging Cluster for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (ICACH) at the Cyprus Institute has developed and integrated a digital imaging methodology, i.e. a workflow process that includes the on-site elaboration of the RTI method, at the monastery of Ayios Georgios Teratsiotis, Avgorou, the churches of Ayia Marina, Frenaros, and Panayia Aggeloktisti, Kiti, as well as the mansion of Hatzigiorgakis Kornesios in the old city of Nicosia. This methodology also incorporates the process of extrapolating "meaningful" ship and related graffiti from RTI datasets by using post-processing tools for digital tracing, thus allowing for the contextualization of surfaces and hence the creation of a "digital graffiti map" of the monuments.
Such computational photographic methods are integrated and confronted with traditional methods of documentation (film-base tracing), while the pros and cons of each of the methods are explored. Consequently, computational methods provide a new medium for the documentation of graffiti that renders "prosthetic knowledge" and offers the opportunity to use digital workflows that are scientifically accurate and less subjective to in-situ interpretation. RTI, in particular, offers high dynamic range illumination end-result, flexibility, low-end digital portability, interoperability and open access without the use of commercial software to "datasets" that encapsulate a wide spectrum of information.

Medieval Ship Graffiti from Amarynthos, Euboea
Nakas, Yannis (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Independent Researcher
Krapf, Tobias (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece
Amarynthos was one of the most important cult centres of ancient Euboea (Greece), housing the extra urban Eretrian sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia. The recent excavations at Amarynthos by the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece, in collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Euboea, have revealed a monumental porticus, probably belonging to the sanctuary, as well as more buildings and finds dating from the Early Bronze Age to the Medieval period, and attesting to the long diachronic occupation of the site.
Amongst the finds a unique medieval sherd preserves a detailed and rather accurate depiction of a galley under oars and sails. The form of the ship corresponds to the typology of fifteenth century galleys, as known through western and eastern iconographic sources. Nevertheless, this is not the only ship graffiti from the site. On the hill of Paleoekklisies, inside the fourteenth-century church of the Assumption, carved on the painted wall, another ship graffito survives, this time much larger but less detailed; its dating, however, remains obscure.
During this period, i.e. at the turn from the long Venetian occupation to the Ottoman rule, Euboea (Negroponte) and its maritime connections are of great interest and these finds shed light on the types of ships that frequented the Euboean Gulf.
Abd el-Maguid, Mohamed M. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Head of the Central Department of Underwater Antiquities, Egypt
Lotfy, Ahmad (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Underwater archaeologist
Several years ago, during the restoration of the so-called "Waqf elmagharba", a seascape drawing was uncovered in a room on the second floor. This building, located in the Al-Azhar area in old Cairo, is part of a large architectural complex that belongs to the Mamluk Sultan Quaitbay (AD 1468-1496). According to written documents, some rooms in the complex were rented to North African (Maghrebin) voyagers. The scene depicts a double harbor with several boats and ships and is distributed on three of the four walls of the room. The graffiti are simple drawings incised on the first layer of plaster with a hard pointed instrument. In this paper we discuss the nature and dating of both the watercrafts and the harbour.
Maritime Activity in Nineteenth Century Akko as Reflected in Graffiti of ships
Deborah Cvikel (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Yaacov Kahanov (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the city of Akko (St. Jean d'Acre), with its harbour, was considered the key to the East by the European powers, and was the centre of several important naval events. Ships of various types, rates and classes, and from various fleets – European, American, and eastern Mediterranean, used Akko harbour.
Graffiti of ships may be used, with due caution, as a source of information, as in the case of the four ship graffiti presented in this study: a ship incised into a building stone in the Hammam al-Pasha, Akko; and three ships depicted on the walls of the Bahá'í mansion in the village of Mazra'ih, near Akko. An analysis of the graffiti of the ships is presented, focusing on their structural features and suggested type of ships, as well as on their suggested date and contribution to the maritime history of Akko.
The combined data of the four ships, jointly with information about ships plying the seas near Akko during the first half of the nineteenth century, suggest that the graffiti depict frigates. As such, these ship graffiti provide additional evidence for the involvement of frigates in maritime activities near Akko at that time.
Nautical graffiti of Majorca Island. A summary
Elvira González (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Arqueología Urbana Gestiones de patrimonio, Mallorca
This paper is the result of almost thirty years of research in the Balearic Islands, specifically οn Mallorca, where ship graffiti have been the commonest theme in glyptographic contexts. As a result of this work, historical graffiti have been considered part of the protected cultural heritage of the islands since 2011, by regulation regarding the Archaeological and Paleontological Heritage of the Balearic Islands. Nautical graffiti from the Balearic islands are often well executed, reflecting important details that cannot be found in official paintings or other sources, and in some cases never suspected before.
In this paper, an overview of nautical graffiti on Mallorca is presented. The graffiti on Mallorcan monuments represent the most important collection of the archipelago, although such graffiti have also been published from Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. As far as Mallorca is concerned, the main historical monuments with nautical graffiti in the capital are: the Cathedral, the Lonja -The Hall merchants, Bellver Castle, Almudaina King's Palace, the bell towers of medieval churches (Santa Creu, Santa Eulalia, San Francesc and others). Furthermore, nautical graffiti are distributed throughout the island, at the most important non-urban sites such as castles (Santueri y Capdepera), convents and watchtowers in private historical houses (Sa Torre de Santa Ponça, Sa Torre de Llucmajor, la tour de Canyamel, La tour dels Enagistes), all dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries.
Petr Sorokin (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
The Institute of the History of Material Culture
Russian Academy of Science
St. Petersburg, Russia
Some Russian Medieval representations of ships and boats (dating from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries) can be connected with the shipbuilding traditions of Byzantium or other Mediterranean centres, because of some peculiarities in construction: they are rigged with lateen sails and have two steering-oars and inclined masts.
The earliest images of medieval ships in Russia are known from graffiti found during archaeological excavations; they are schematic drawings of vessels with a triangle sail from Staraya Ladoga, dated to the mid-eighth century AD. Another, more detailed graffito of a boat with a triangle sail was engraved on a brick from Novgorod, dated to the mid-fourteenth century. The earliest image of a triangle sail known from the Baltic is a graffito from Staraya Ladoga, very similar to boats depicted in Byzantine art tradition.
There are also several schematic ship graffiti on Arab dirhams found on Russian territory, dated to the ninth and tenth centuries. Some of them have analogies to graffiti from Medieval Bulgaria and could be connected with historical events, such as the campaign of the Russian prince Svyatoslav together with a Scandinavian military group, during the occupation of the Bulgarian centres of Pliski and Preslav in 968-969 AD.
Whether there were any contacts between north Russia and Byzantium or the Arab East in the middle of the eighth century is still unclear. Considering the geographic position of medieval Russia and its role in historical events of the Black sea region, researchers assumed that the development of Russian shipbuilding had influences from the Byzantine Empire. However, no evidence of such influence has been found in the archaeological record thus far.
The Northern Cog and the Mediterranean Cocha, as reflected in ship iconography
Maik-Jens Springmann (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Archive of the Hanseatic town of Wismar
One of the best known citations, found in almost every publication about shipping and shipbuilding developments in the Mediterranean during the period between the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, originates from the Cronica di Govanni Villani (1304 AD). Villani wrote about the important influence of northern cog-shaped vessels entering the Mediterranean Sea in the time of the Crusaders. Nonetheless, the journeys of the northern cog-shaped vessels to the Mediterranean and the adaption of them are still one of the biggest enigmas in European shipping and shipbuilding history. Because of the lack of written sources, illustrations play an important role to our understanding of such ships, often mentioned as cocha.
In this paper, a collection of important iconographic evidence from the Mediterranean is presented, including more and less known images. A comparative analysis is also attempted between depictions from the Mediterranean and northern Europe, taking into consideration recent discussions about shipbuilding tradition during this period as well as related sections from written sources.