The Conference

ΚΑRΑVΟΙ (Κάραβοι): Methodology, Interpretation and Typology of Maritime Graffiti in the Mediterranean
 
Nicosia, 15-16 October 2016
 
 
 
Pictorial and textual graffiti have attracted the attention of archaeologists, anthropologists, epigraphists, historians and philologists since the very early stages in the development of humanities as academic disciplines. Such graffiti have been considered as unique testimonies of everyday life in antiquity, otherwise very hard to detect. Moreover, the practice of writing messages and making drawings on any surface available for scratching has been diachronic and surprisingly perennial; if the thousands of graffiti documented in Pompeii can be considered as indicative, then it seems probable that the graffiti phenomenon was as widespread in antiquity as it is in modern times. Recent monographs, such as Langner 2001, Baird and Taylor 2011 and Keegan 2014 have provided a particularly rich body of new data as well as a holistic approach to this particular body of evidence.
 
Graffiti depicting ships, in particular, have been extensively used by specialists as important ship iconography sources, which provide information on ancient ship types, rigging and gear, or naval architecture (e.g. Crumlin-Pedersen and Munch-Thyem 1995; Auger-Sergent 1996, Gonzales and Font 2007), with Lucien Basch's (1987) work still being the most comprehensive publication for the ancient Mediterranean. For the historical periods that followed the Roman Empire, especially in the eastern Mediterranean, numerous studies have resulted in a significant body of evidence (see e.g. Goudas 1911, Basch 1986, Ovtcharov 1995, Imhaus 2009, Babuin and Nakas 2011, Damianidis 2014), and ship graffiti have
appeared in diverse publications with a broader scope, regarding ship iconography or graffiti in general. A comprehensive study to address the multilevel significance of their analysis, however, is still lacking.
 
In 2014, a new research programme was initiated in the University of Cyprus, funded by the Leventis Foundation, entitled KARAVOI: The Ship Graffiti on the Medieval and post-Medieval Monuments of Cyprus: Mapping, Documentation, and Digitisation. One of the main objectives of the project is to create a corpus of the island's ship graffiti, thus allowing for a holistic approach to their study which could involve not only standard aspects of it, such as ship's types and provenance, seafaring, trade connections and maritime activities, but also human behavior and identity, religious practices, ritual, ideology and social identity in Medieval Cyprus. This conference is one of the project's deliverables and aspires to bring together for the first time scholars that work in the eastern Mediterranean in order to discuss diverse aspects of ship graffiti, such as:

1. Maritime graffiti other than ships
2. Typology and shipbuilding analysis
3. Spatial distribution
4. Interpretation of the maritime graffiti in their multiple contexts (anthropological, historical, geographical, spatial, symbolic, religious or other)
5. Recording and documentation methodologies
6. Theoretical approaches to graffiti.
 
Bibliography

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Babuin, A., and Y. D. Nakas
2011 Byzantine ship graffiti from the church of Prophitis Elias in Thessaloniki. Skyllis 11(1) :8-17.
Baird, J.A., and C. Taylor, eds.
2011 Ancient Graffiti in Context. New York: Routledge.
Basch, L.
1986 The Aegina pirate ships of c. B.C. 1700. Mariner' s Mirror 72: 415-437.
Basch, L.
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Crumlin-Pedersen, O., and B. Munch-Thyem, eds.
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Damianidis, K.
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