The Shipsheds of Sicilian Naxos: a Second Preliminary Report (2003–6)

Maria Costanza Lentini, David Blackman, Jari Pakkanen

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This paper presents the results of the second and main period of excavation. The limits of the site were defined: a monumental building with four covered slipways or shipsheds, flanking another major public building, quite possibly the agora. Preliminary conclusions based on the 2001 excavation of the northernmost shipshed (BSA 2003) can be supplemented and modified.
The surprising discovery was ramps of sand, re-surfaced several times during the second half of the fifth century. Shipsheds 3–4 produced evidence of two architectural phases, with the back- and side-walls moved upslope, and the ramps now ending in an upswinging curve.
The existence of an early phase in the dockyard, already indicated in 2001, was confirmed. The later roof of Corinthian type, without decoration (second half of fifth century), was preceded by a roof of the late sixth–early fifth century BC, attested in particular by a remarkable series of antefixes, both Sileni and Gorgoneia, found in every shed, with some concentration in sheds 2 and 3, and with a number of other architectural terracottas (all described in the catalogue). The excavation context shows that this material comes from the same roof, indicating the very unusual combination of Silenus mask and Gorgon mask antefixes.
Other finds are more briefly discussed. Remains of red and blue pigment show that ships were painted in the shipsheds. Pottery finds provide considerable evidence of drinking; so do some graffiti, while others may be ostraka for a selection procedure (possibly ostracism). A scatter of arrow-heads and a few spear-heads have been found in the working levels of the ramps.
The case is put for shipsheds as monumental architecture, with some specifically Sicilian features. Comparative material for use of wooden posts and post-pits is discussed, and also the use of mudbrick.
A three-dimensional computer reconstruction of the shipshed complex is illustrated, and some particular aspects discussed (lighting and drainage of water from the roof). The reconstruction preferred has a separate stepped ridged roof over shipsheds 1–2 and 3–4.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299–360
JournalThe Annual of the British School at Athens
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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