Ancient Harbors in the Mediterranean

John Peter Oleson and Robert L. Hohlfelder

in The Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archaeology

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195375176
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Ancient Harbors in the Mediterranean

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  • Archaeology
  • Environmental Archaeology
  • Landscape Archaeology



This article describes the evolution of harbors in the ancient world that can be linked to changing social needs and technological developments. Hundreds of harbor sites of varying sizes and designs can be documented around the Mediterranean dating back thousands of years. Relief sculpture and a few shipwrecks provide ample evidence for the intensity of trade by sea in the eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age, but the rise in the relative sea level in the eastern Mediterranean since the Bronze Age has obscured or destroyed many of the early harbor sites. Natural anchorages were used throughout the period of Mediterranean history for meeting maritime needs of coastal communities. Hundreds of potential targets await serious archaeological investigation and pose new research questions, which will be answered with further technological developments.

Keywords: ancient harbors; harbor sites; natural anchorages; coastal communities; archaeological investigation; Mediterranean history

Article.  11373 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Environmental Archaeology ; Landscape Archaeology

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