< Fieldwork

AdriaS Case Study 1: lembos/libournika

Ships of the local Easter Adriatic population in the Iron Age

Period: Prehistory

In the 3rd century BC, Illyrian piracy and naval operations introduced Illyrian ships under the name of lemboi into the ancient Greek and Roman literature (cfr. Polybius, Livy, Appian). The unusual feature of these vessels, cutwater-like keel extensions at both ends, was probably used for increasing the waterline and the maneuverability of the ships. This feature could have been the main distinction between Illyrian and the other contemporary fighting vessels.

The other two ship types, the so called liburnika / liburna and serilia, originated from the northern part of the Eastern Adriatic region. Although obviously very ancient, they are not often mentioned in pre-imperial sources, perhaps because they did not feature in the violent historical events that would have attracted the attention of the ancient authors.  

This is only a brief summary of the problem of identifying Illyrian and Liburnian ships, which is a question that demands etymological investigations, critical examination of the written sources, and analysis of geographical and historical context. These researches will be presented in more detail in the final publication that is the objective of this task.