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shipwrecks, ancient  

Deborah N. Carlson

Underwater archaeology and the excavation of ships and boats inform us about the size, construction, lading, and operation of watercraft in the ancient Mediterranean. Their findspots include shallow coastal waters and rivers, deep waters of the open sea, and silted harbours. The vast majority of ancient shipwrecks that have survived were transporting cargoes of raw materials (metal and glass ingots, stone blocks), finished goods (ceramic tableware, stone sculpture, metal tools, weapons, and containers), as well as comestible (wine, oil, nuts, meat, etc.) or organic (pitch, tar) commodities typically carried inside two-handled clay transport jars called amphoras. Thorough excavation and analysis of ancient shipwrecks contribute to larger dialogues about maritime trade and the economy, construction techniques and technology, travel, and navigation.The archaeological excavation of ancient shipwrecks as a scientific discipline is less than a century old. Its advent is closely tied to the invention of SCUBA in the 1950s and its subsequent development influenced by other underwater technologies. While more than 1,700 ancient wrecks have been identified in the Mediterranean and neighbouring seas, only a small percentage have been scientifically investigated; far fewer have been systematically excavated, conserved, and published. Nonetheless nautical archaeology contributes to meaningful dialogues about economy, trade, technology, travel, and .



Ruben Post

The climate of the Mediterranean is defined by hot summers and mild, wet winters; high inter-annual variability; and strong seasonal winds. These characteristics impacted numerous aspects of life in the classical world, most notably agriculture and seafaring. The Greeks displayed a strong interest in climatic patterns beginning with Hesiod, and between the Archaic and Roman periods, Graeco-Roman intellectuals developed increasingly complex theories and models to explain them. Natural philosophers also posited that climatic conditions determined human characteristics, such as intelligence and behaviour.The dramatic increase of interest in and evidence for pre-modern climate change in the 21st century has revolutionised our understanding of climatic shifts in antiquity. While the scope and nature of ancient climatic developments are disputed, some major trends and their possible societal impacts have emerged as topics of interest, most notably the late Bronze Age–Iron Age climatic downturn, the “Roman Climatic Optimum,” and the “Late Antique Little Ice Age.”agricultureclimate changedeterminismgeographyhistory of environmentmeteorologynatural philosophyseafaringwindThe Mediterranean ClimateThe climate of the Mediterranean is generally characterised by dry, hot summers; rainy, mildly cool winters; relatively short transitional periods between these seasons in spring and autumn; and a high degree of interannual variability in precipitation.