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Research seminar: Julian Whitewright


Date: Tuesday 15 March 2022

Time: 13.00 – 15.00

Location: Room 435 / Zoom

Julian Whitewright, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, Maritime technological change in the ancient Mediterranean.


Continuity, Variation and Change: Sailing and Seafaring in the Ancient Mediterranean
“Sailing and Seafaring are both central to human connections around and across the Mediterranean Sea during antiquity. The hundreds of shipwrecks and their cargoes provide the most compelling evidence of this past activity, especially in relation to ship construction and cargoes of trade. Meanwhile, careful reading of epigraphic and historical evidence has shone an important light on the mechanisms that underpinned ancient seafaring. 

One final element also needs to be considered however, if our appreciation of this maritime past is to be complete; namely the sailing rigs and methods of using them that provided the propulsive power to the shipping of antiquity. Careful analysis of archaeological, iconographic and historical source material allows the developmental pathways of ancient sailing technology to be reconstructed. This reveals that the selection of maritime technology in antiquity was multi-linear in nature, and that traditional explanations for maritime technological choice (e.g. windward performance) are false. It must also force us to rethink how we model ancient maritime activity in the light of our ability to better understand the sailing and seafaring at its heart.”

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