Framing the Debate: A Study of the Development of Ship Framing in the Mediterranean from the 5th Century B.C.E. to the 9th Century C.E.
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This study is a selective compendium of measurements and features relating to framing from Mediterranean shipwrecks dating from the 5th century B.C.E. through the 9th century C.E., with the goal of better understanding the transition from shell-based to frame-based ship construction. With a few notable exceptions, little more than cursory measurements and analyses are published regarding the framing pattern in ancient Mediterranean ships, a system that has been broadly and nondescriptly labeled as “floor timbers alternating with paired half-frames.” From its first appearance until the 6th century C.E., the pattern of floor timbers alternating with paired half-frames remains in relative stasis with only a few notable developments. Framing continues to be a non-integrated and secondary form of hull rigidity until the 8th and 9th centuries C.E. when a new system appears – successive and alternating L-shaped floor timbers extended by non-fastened futtocks, or in-line framing. The reasons for the quick adoption of this new system are not entirely clear, but are likely economic in nature. Regardless, the introduction of in-line framing, along with the transition away from strong hull edge-joinery, prompted the obsolescence of the centuries-old arrangement of floor timbers alternating with paired half-frames. While framing systems in ancient Mediterranean ships have received little focused attention in the past, it is clear that the incremental changes between the 4th century B.C.E. and the 9th century C.E. reveal larger patterns in ship construction.
Subjectancient ship construction
floor timbers alternating with paired-half-frames
Melia-Teevan, Kevin Ripley Martin (2016). Framing the Debate: A Study of the Development of Ship Framing in the Mediterranean from the 5th Century B.C.E. to the 9th Century C.E.. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from
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