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The Kyrenia Ship: An Interim Report on Its Hull Construction

J. Richard Steffy
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 89, No. 1, Centennial Issue (Jan., 1985), pp. 71-101
DOI: 10.2307/504772
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/504772
Page Count: 32
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The Kyrenia Ship: An Interim Report on Its Hull Construction
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Abstract

The Kyrenia ship was a small Greek merchantman which sank off the north coast of Cyprus late in the fourth century B. C. Its timbers have been reconstructed in Kyrenia, Cyprus, where it is displayed along with cargo and artifacts from the wreck. The hull was preserved extensively, including all of the keel, more than half of the stem, and 22 strakes of outer planking. Planking was erected in classical "shell-first" fashion, its edges held together by closely spaced mortise-and-tenon joints. Two heavy wales girded the sides of the hull above the water-line. Frames, made from naturally curved timber, were not fastened to the keel but were held to the planking by means of clenched copper nails. The surviving internal structure included ceiling, cross-beams, and a mast step. Several repairs have been recorded for this ship: replacement of a frame and several planks, installation of a bilge sump, relocation of the mast step, repair of a cracked keel, wood sheathing in the bow, and a layer of lead sheathing over the entire hull. The study of this vessel, the only well preserved fourth century B. C. ship, clearly establishes the methodology involved in the fabrication of these complex wooden structures. Important new technical details are revealed, and fresh insights concerning the economics of classical trading ventures can be gleaned from the chronology established for hull maintenance and repairs.

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