Van de Moortel Aleydis
University of Tennessee
The Middle Bronze Age Boat from Mitrou: Evidence for Bronze Age Aegean Shipbuilding
In 2007, the remains of a small boat were discovered lying on a dirt road within the settlement of Mitrou, a site on the North Euboean Gulf in East Lokris. The wood was not preserved, but its disintegration had left a black stain in the shape of the boat’s bottom. About half of this boat stain was excavated over a length of approximately 3 m. and a maximum width of 1 m. The total hull length is estimated to have been 5.5–6.0 m. It was a slender craft, lanceolate in shape, curving gently in cross-section and profile, and tapering toward a blunt extremity.
The boat is dated to the Middle Helladic II Early pottery phase and must have been built ca. 1900 B.C. Its modest size suggests that it was a small transport vessel or fishing boat. This is only the fourth small boat discovered at a prehistoric site in Greece and the first Bronze Age vessel with substantial evidence for the hull shape. Thus, it is highly significant for our understanding of Aegean boatbuilding.
With its extremely thin hull and gentle curves, the Mitrou boat closely resembles expanded logboats of ancient and medieval date excavated in northern Europe. It is argued in this paper that the expanded logboat formed the basis of Aegean boatbuilding, and it determined the basic characteristics of Bronze Age and later plank-built ships in this region.
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