The University of Arizona

The 1st Millennium AD Mediterranean Shipbuilding Transition at Dor/Tantura Lagoon, Israel: Dating the Dor 2001/1 Shipwreck

Brita Lorentzen, Sturt W Manning, Yaacov Kahanov


During the 1st millennium AD, a fundamental set of changes in ship design, building methods, and sequence of construction took place in the Mediterranean. This process is known as the “Transition in Construction.” Before the Transition, ship hull design was based longitudinally on the ship’s strakes (“shell-first”). By about the mid-1st millennium AD, the concept and construction of ship hulls had changed and were based on the ship’s frames (“frame-based”). The Transition was a complex, nonlinear evolution. High-precision dating of the construction and service period of ships built during the 1st millennium is essential for elucidating the Transition process. Such dating precision is possible using radiocarbon wiggle-matching and Bayesian analysis techniques. The following study uses these techniques to determine the construction, launch, and final voyage (wrecking) dates of Dor 2001/1, a Byzantine shipwreck from northern Israel that was built based on frames. The results indicate that Dor 2001/1 was likely constructed and launched in the first third of the 6th century AD and was wrecked no later than AD 540. This is one of the earliest frame-based ships found in the Mediterranean so far. Dor 2001/1 is therefore an important shipwreck in understanding the Transition, since it provides evidence that frame-based hulls were already being built by the mid-1st millennium AD, about 500 yr earlier than has been commonly accepted.

DOI: 10.2458/56.17445


Dor 2001/1; Dor/Tantura lagoon; transition in construction; wiggle-matching; Byzantine period

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