Ship Mainz 2


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Discovery and state of preservation
Dating
Function
Constructional details
Conservation

Discovery and state of preservation

During the winter of 1981/82 Ship 2 was found at the edge of the construction trench of the Hotel Hilton II on the Löhrstraße. The rear left ship’s half with the keel and a part of the sternpost had survived. Since the wall of the construction trench had cut through the wreck, it could only be recovered over a length of 10×80 m. The width of the surviving part measures 1×80 m, the height 1 m.



Dating

Like all ships hitherto discovered in Mainz, Ship 2 was constructed of oak. For the felling of the timber dendrochronological analyses have yielded dates of 241, 262 and 287, whereby the sapwood and bark were not present on any of the specimens tested. One can assume, therefore, that the oak-trees used for the construction of Ship 2 were cut down during the 4th century.

Function

According to investigations carried out Ship 2 belongs to Type A of the late Roman ships in Mainz, as demonstrated by the reproduction 1 in the Museum of Ancient Shipping in Mainz. Thus, Ship 2 can be regarded as a military vessel for transporting troops along the rivers.


Constructional details

Planking

Traces of dowels in the planking of Ship 2 prove that its hull had first been built with the aid of templates (framing-moulds), before one then replaced them with the final frames.


The 2 - 2×5 cm thick, approx. 20 - 30 cm wide planks are carvel-built, i.e. set butt-jointed to one another. Of the nine rows of planks in all, the 3rd and 5th rows can be regarded as stealers.

Keel

The sternpost, worked from a bent piece of timber, was fastened by nails to a simple strap joint on the stern end of the 5 - 6 cm thick and 25 cm wide keel, which contained a ‘bilgerinne’.

The ancient shipwright had marked the position of the frames on the keel at intervals of approx. 47 cm. Compared to the other ships the intervals between the markings were larger. This can be explained by the setting of the frames in pairs. The marks roughly correspond to the middle of each pair of frames.

Frames

Ship 2 is the only one of the late Roman ships from Mainz to have half-frames. The port- and stern-frames are placed close to one another in pairs, the port-frames always aft the stern-frames. Only the frames at the sternpost consisted of a bottom floor-timber and two side-frames, of which, however, only the frames of the port have survived. Usually, the frames display a thickness of 5 - 7 cm and a width of 10 - 12 cm. Planks and frames are connected to one another by means of iron nails.

Gunwale and interior fittings

Apart from the fender and a rowlock found detached, the gunwale has completely rotted. Other loose finds discovered in the ship are knee-timbers and short, vertical timbers, some of which had pommel-like ends. Only a few traces of narrow stringers on the inner side of the hull have been preserved.

Steering system

Better documented is the steering system with the 11 by 11 cm transverse timber, which juts some 50 cm outboards over the side and contains two tap holes on ist outer side. On the inside is a bent support timber, which is nailed at the other end to the hull. The existence of a second, outer supporting , timber running obliquely on the interior is indicated by the exterior tap-hole in the rudder-beam, as well as the flattening and the carpenter’s mark at the aft end of the internal support.

Conservation

Ship 2, which is preserved with artificial resin, can be seen in its excavated position in the permanent exhibition of the Museum of Ancient Shipping.

 



Barbara Pferdehirt

Translation by Clive Bridger, Xanten



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