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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Panos Tzovaras

PhD studentship on re-evaluating the boatbuilding tradition of the South Aegean Islands in the Early Bronze period

Panos Tzovaras's Photo

Hi, I'm Panos Tzovaras and I am supported by the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton.

I am grateful to the SMMI and UoS, whose support will give me the opportunity to contribute in the understanding of the mesmerising prehistory of the Aegean Basin and its cultures. Recent developments in the field of Aegean Archaeology and the rock-art from Vathy and Strofilas render this research timely as new data and interdisciplinary techniques have become available, enabling us to construct a different idea about the Aegean maritime communities.

This PhD research mainly focuses on the vessels existed in the Neolithic-Early Bronze Age Aegean Basin, as they survived through iconography. The hundreds of recently discovered depictions of boats engraved on rocks from the settlement of Strofilas in Andros, others from the settlement of Vathy in Astypalaia, etc., can for the first time paint a very different picture about our knowledge of Neolithic shipbuilding, seafaring and technology. By amassing all the extant evidence and comparing them with ethnographic parallels, a database will be created. This will make possible their morphological classification, through the concept of geometric morphometrics, and their digital reconstruction through software like SolidWorks, MAXSURF, etc. To that end, the SMMI laboratories will be used to test in simulated conditions the seafaring properties of the watercraft with respect to the fundamentals of ship science, such as hydrostatics and stability, propulsion and displacement, etc. By including these aspects in my research, the generated outputs can for the first time enlighten us about the sea-keeping abilities and performance of these vessels.

Therefore, this research aims to propose a new, multilevel and interdisciplinary methodological framework of research, by using the tools of different disciplines, without disregarding the spatial/temporal context of the extant evidence. Additionally, it will address lacunae in relation to prehistoric seafaring and boatbuilding traditions in the Aegean and it will bridge gaps in our current knowledge and challenge misconceptions of interpretation.

The understanding of the level of shipbuilding technology as well as the performance of the vessels existed, have bearing on interpretations of the Neolithic economy, trade and exchange, the nature of maritime communities and the structure and organisation of the Neolithic- EBA communities. By examining all these parameters (i.e. environmental, technological, cultural, socio-political, material culture, etc.) through a phenomenological perspective and using them as inputs in a GIS software, a spatial - non-spatial database can be generated, representing the visual seascape of the pasts coastscapes. Thereby, a quite realistic light can be shed on the period's maritime networks by running a network analysis.

The final output will be the amalgamation of different sciences, and the methodological framework implemented could have various applications, regardless of the spatial or temporal context.

The supervisory team is comprised by esteemed scholars, whose expertise will facilitate the success of this intricate, interdisciplinary research. Namely, by Dr Lucy Blue (Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Senior Lecturer in Maritime Archaeology, UoS, Southampton Maritime & Marine Institute theme leader, Maritime-Archaeological Director Honor Frost Foundation), Professor Stephen Turncock (Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Professor of Maritime Fluid Dynamics, Head of the Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering and Science Academic Unit, UoS), Professor Joanna Sofaer (Professor of Archaeology, UoS, Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fellow, Director of Archaeology for the Creative Industries, and Co-Director of the research at Bronze Age tell settlement at Százhalombatta, Hungary), and Professor Andreas Vlachopooulos (School of Philosophy, Department of History and Archaeology, Associate professor in Prehistoric Archaeology, UoI, Director of the Vathy’s excavation).


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