To Build or Not to Build: Considerations of Coastal Development in the Ancient Southern Levant

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The employment of the maritime medium by Southern Levantine societies is examined here through its engagement with coastline facilitation and the building of artificial harbors where natural bays are insufficient or non-existent. The development and availability of technologies and methods are surveyed and analyzed vis-à-vis local choices made to adopt or to reject mediating tools such as jetties, quays, and breakwaters. The article discusses technological and conceptual innovations against the background of long-term practices, essentially in favor of natural features. Despite the early adoption of emerging technologies by such exemplars as Iron Age Atlit, Hellenistic Akko-Ptolemaïs, or Roman Caesarea, the rest of the Southern Levant did not join in, and Caesarea, Akko-Ptolemaïs, and Atlit fell short of maintaining their facilities in the long term. The solution for ships was found instead in natural anchorages and, much more dominantly, in the beaching of smaller vessels and offshore anchoring of larger ones.

Original languageEnglish
Article number803
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the author.


  • ancient harbors
  • function
  • functionality
  • Southern Levant
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering


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