Protecting the ancient mariners, cultic artifacts from the holy land seas

Ehud Galili, Baruch Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Underwater archaeological discoveries along the Israeli coast expose numerous symbolic artifacts and testify to religious-sacral, cultic and spiritual practices by mariners. The discoveries consist of nautical objects and signs concerning these supernatural practices. Most of the artifacts were for predetermined nautical use. Other artifacts broadcast sea-associated symbolism. The Phoenicians are represented by ceramic and metal figurines of their gods and votive miniature boats. The following Greek culture is represented first by marble ship eyes. Later the Greek, Hellenistic and Roman cultures are marked by metal figurines of gods, known to protect mariners, travelers and traders. Shipwrecks yielded cultic kits testifying to symbolic acts. Ship tools and equipment including: battering ram, anchors and sounding leads, were marked by apotropaic symbols. Miniature votive nautical equipment and boats deposited were recovered. The transition to Christianity is marked by crosses, Christological letters and symbols. The later Muslim invasion of the Mediterranean littoral is characterized by artifacts bearing iconographic depictions but no human image, recovered from underwater sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-97
Number of pages63
JournalArchaeologia Maritima Mediterranea
StatePublished - 2015


  • Apotropaic
  • Figurines
  • Israel
  • Marine archaeology
  • Mediterranean
  • Stone anchors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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