Mappings of Potential Sailing Mobility in the Mediterranean During Antiquity

D. Gal, H. Saaroni, D. Cvikel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A comprehensive mapping of potential sailing mobility was performed for the eastern and central Mediterranean basins. The mapping is based on newly developed methods for measuring potential sailing mobility of merchant ships with a loose-footed square sail in antiquity, both for direct passages and for coastal sailing. The metrics of the measured direct and coastal sailing passages generate new measures of potential sailing mobility that provide new insights into the functioning of maritime links. The study also applies the measurements to several case studies in historical context including mapping of potential sailing mobility for the grain shipments from Egypt to Rome and the potential sailing mobility of Phoenician maritime links between the Levant and colonies to the west. The mappings reveal the bottlenecks for westward sailing from the Levant in the summer months. The mappings also highlight the bi-directional sailing links that could be maintained throughout the summer season despite the prevailing Etesian winds. The mappings contribute to deeper understanding of seafaring options and challenges during Antiquity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-448
Number of pages52
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Ancient sailing routes
  • Experimental archaeology
  • Maritime connectivity
  • Mediterranean
  • Seafaring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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