Saturday 3 November 2018


Beautiful but hideously rugged coasts of the Dodecanese : hunting grounds of the war-galley
 I was recently in the Dodecanese to gather information for a book. Apart from a great chance to examine earthquake damage from last year's magnitude 6.7(!) earthquake, I had a look at some shipsheds.

So, I found myself in the basement of a police headquarters with 5 policemen, 2 armed,2 museum security guards and, maybe because it was the foundations of a neorion I was examining, a naval officer!
Looking down a slipway..plastic canoe at right is not original inhabitant of this neorion, pillars are modern!
The ship was dragged up a sloping ramp over beams/sleepers in the floor and then supported in place by wooden stays. Gear could be stored above or alongside. Some shipsheds took several ships side-by-side or end-to-end.

picture by Yannis Nakkas for Zea Harbour project

The slots for the sleepers are still visible....
Shipsheds are a fantastic type of building, the remains of which allow us to learn about the vanished galley fleets. Rather like the naust used to store wooden boats over winter in Scandinavia, The neoria of the ancient Mediterranean protected the galley from sun and weather over the winter season or when it required repair or maintenance.

I am sure galleys laid up in neoria grumbled and gossiped as much as steam engines !
 Neoria can tell us how many ships were stationed at a harbour, how big the ships were and how these changed with time. They had a light structure of columns bearing a tiles roof but the base for the columns and the slipway up which the hull was dragged, were solid enough to survive as some kind of remains.
Zea harbour :  again by Yannis Nakkas
 The simplest forms were rock-cut slipways which probably had a light timber roof originally.
This one is at a Rhodian anti-pirate naval station and probably accommodated 2 hemiolia.
2200 years of waves have taken their toll but the cut on the right is still obvious and the parallel sides

There are hundreds of slipways identified all over the Mediterranean, above which were once erected neoria. The haydays of Athens and Carthage as well as the long arm of Ptolematic Egypt, and the scale of naval investment by the tiny island states all become apparent from the study of shipsheds.
Carthage Admiralty island by Peter Connolly
Mediterranean cats are always appealing.