In the past six decades since its inception, nautical archaeologists have excavated and studied the hulls, cargoes, and other remains of ancient watercraft. However, shipwrecks themselves only tell part of the story. The archaeological record is replete with examples of known shipwrecks from some cultures and periods, but, for others, no hulls exist in the known archaeological record. Vagaries of preservation generally prevent the upper parts and rigging of a vessel to survive in all but the most remarkable of cases. This paper reviews the role of iconographic representations in understanding ancient vessels and seafaring by presenting the issues, examining the limitations, proposing interpretative methods for, and finally by supplying specific examples of, ancient nautical depictions.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited