Museum of Ancient Seafaring (Mainz, Germany)

The Museum of Ancient Seafaring (German: Museum für Antike Schifffahrt) in Mainz opened in 1994 in the former 19th century repair shop of the Hessian Ludwig Railway, near the Mainz Roman theatre, as a branch of the Romano-Germanic Central Museum (Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum). The exhibits include the wooden remains of five Roman military ships from the 4th century AD together with full-scale replicas, many reliefs with representations of ships, model reconstructions as well as a gallery dedicated to the history of shipbuilding and construction techniques.

Coordinates: 49° 59′ 38.75″ N, 8° 16′ 49.51″ E

After the establishment of the military castrum (fort) of Mogontiacum (modern Mainz) in 13–12 BC, ships of the Classis Germanica (the Roman fleet in Germania Superior and Germania Inferior) became stationed at its harbor. Mogontiacum soon became the capital of the Roman province of Germania Superior and an important naval base of the Roman fleet on the river Rhine. In November 1981, as workmen dug the foundation of an extension of the Hilton Hotel in Mainz, the remains of at least 10 military wooden ships dating from the last days of the Roman Empire were discovered still in situ on their gravel beds. These survived more than 1,500 years only because they were buried under 7 metres of clay and sand, which kept them away from the destructive effects of oxidation. The ships, all made of German oak, were waterlogged but otherwise fairly well preserved.

The area seemed to have been a part of the ancient harbor where old ships were abandoned by the Romans around 400 AD when their empire had grown weak and they could no longer maintain their garrison at Mogontiacum.

The wrecks were cautiously dismantled, documented, and, in 1992, brought to the Museum of Ancient Seafaring for further preservation and study. They were dated by the use of dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) and were termed Mainz 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and generally referred to as the Mainzer Römerschiffe, the Mainz Roman ships. They were identified as military vessels that belonged to the Roman flotilla in Germania, the Classis Germanica. The vessels could be classified into two types, namely small troop transporters (Mainz type A – Mainz 1, 2, 4, 5) termed navis lusoria and a multinational patrol vessel called navis actuaria (Mainz type B – Mainz 3). A little later, the remains of two flat-bottomed ships of type Zwammerdam came to light close to the findspot.

The museum has a workshop, where visitors have the opportunity to watch the staff working on the production of antique ship models. A further section of the exhibition is devoted to the explanation of Roman ship construction.

PORTFOLIO

Mainz Type A

The replica of a Roman military troop transporter ship (navis lusoria), Type Mainz A (based on wreck 1 and wreck 5) dating to the 4th century AD. This vessel was 21,6 m long, 2,79 m wide and roughly 1 m high.
Slim, flat-bottomed hulls with flaring sides are characteristics of the Mainz A Type vessel. They were very narrow, fast rowing boats with a row of oars on either side. She had a crew of 30 oarsmen.
The remains of the Mainz Wreck 1. Dendrochronological analyses of wreck 1 date her to 385 AD. She was used until around 400 AD as a bronze coin struck in the years 388-392 under Emperor Theodosius I was found between the hull and frame 2. The preserved hull with a length of almost 8.3m consists consisting of seven rows of planks up to the gunwale on the port.
The remains of the Mainz Wreck 2. Like all ships discovered in Mainz, Wreck 2 was constructed of oak. She was constructed in the beginning of the 4th century AD and represents a flat-bottomed vessel with flaring sides. It comprises the rear section and part of the midship section of an open plank boat. Her original dimensions were at least 16 me in length, approx. 3 m in width and approx. 1 m in height.
The remains of the Mainz Wreck 4. Only the five uppermost port rows of planking aft survived. Its dendrochronolgical examination revealed only she was constructed at the end of the 3rd century AD in the 4th century AD. This boat was originally larger and heavier than the other three troop transporters.
The remains of the Mainz Wreck 5. Originally 18 m long, only the front 9 m long section from the bows to just aft the mast-frame was able to be recovered. According to the dendrochronological analyses the oaks employed in the building were felled in 390 AD.
The full scale replica of a Roman military troop transporter ship (navis lusoria).

Mainz Type b

Full scale replica of a transport ship used by the Roman navy (navis actuaria), Type Mainz B. As opposed to reconstruction Mainz A, which represents a troop transporter, reconstruction 2 is a patrol vessel used for border control on the Rhine.
Type Mainz B is a more compact vessel that could also be propelled by oars and had a much better power sail than type Mainz A. The technical reconstruction of the ship is based on the archaeological results of the investigation into wreck 3.
The remains of the Mainz Wreck 3. She was a flat-bottom ship with curved, flaring sides and a sharp stern. The dendrochronological analysis of the oak dated the ship from the end of the 3rd century AD.

Mainz Type Zwammerdam

1:10 model of a flat-bottomed ship with ramp-like sloping ends of the Zwammerdam type. These ships have often been recorded north of the Alps and could measure up to 40 m long, as documented by the ships Zwammerdam 4 and Mainz 6. They were used for transporting heavy loads on rivers.
The remains of the pram of the Mainz Wreck 6. During house-building in early 1982, some 500 m south of the site of the late Roman ships, the remains of two prams were discovered. Analysis of the wood revealed a felling date of 81 AD. Her original dimensions were of approx. 40 m long and 5 m wide.

models of other ship types

1:10 model of the Ships of Fiumicino that came to light during the construction of the Leonardo Da Vinci international airport on the site of the ancient harbour basin built in 42 AD by the emperor Claudius. The goods that arrived at the seaport of Portus were unloaded and then transported by smaller inland navigation vessels along the Tiber to the city of Rome. These type of ships are also known from several pictorial representations dating from the 2nd to the 4th century AD such as the Vatican fresco and the Piazzale delle Corporazioni mosaic in Ostia.
1:10 model of a Roman ship as shown on Trajan’s Column.
1:10 models Roman ships.
1:10 models Roman ships, 1: cargo ship based on the London-Blackfriars wreck dated to about 150 AD, 3: model based on the Oceanus mosaic fom Bad Kreuznach.
1:10 model reconstruction of a quadrireme (four-banked gallery) according to a graffito from Alba Fucens in Italy. The vessel, dated to the mid-1st century AD, carried 200 oarsmen with two oarsmen operating each oar. The oars were arranged in two rows of 25 per side.
1:10 model reconstructions of Roman ships, 5: Dromon of the Byzantine navy (10-12th centuries AD), left: Bireme of the Neumagen Type (220 / 230 AD).

reliefs with representation of ships

Tombstone from Mainz-Weisenau depicting a warship from the 1st century AD (original at the Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe, Direktion Landesarchäologie, Mainz).
Relief depicting soldiers on a ship of the Neumagen type (original in the National Museum in Naples), 1st century BC / 1st century AD.
Relief of a Mediterranean cargo ship, 1st – 3rd century AD.
Tombstone of the ship owner (naukleros) and sailor Aurelius Theogeiton from Arados in Syria, early 3rd century AD.
He seems to have been one of those ship owners who navigated their vessels by themselves between the Eastern Mediterranean and Italy.
Relief of a marble coffin depicting a crewship raising the sails of two cargo ships in front of a harbour (original in Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam), 3rd century AD.
Museum für Antike Schiffahrt, Mainz.
Museum für Antike Schiffahrt, Mainz.
Museum für Antike Schiffahrt, Mainz.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm. The admission is free.

Links:

Centrale Montemartini (Rome, Italy)

Centrale Montemartini is an ancient sculpture museum in Rome, located on the Via Ostiense, just outside the Aurelian walls. Set in a former power plant, Centrale Montemartini displays Greek and Roman statues, busts and friezes. It is an annexe of the Capitoline Museums.

Centrale Montemartini was Rome’s first electrical power station when it opened in 1912 and was later converted into a museum of ancient art in the late 1990s. Like the Tate Modern in London, Centrale Montemartini places art in an industrial setting but, unlike the Tate, the imposing machinery has not been moved out. The engines’ grey mass provides a stark contrast to the white marble and offers a unique backdrop for classical art.

The entrance to Centrale Montermartini.

Centrale Montemartini has a collection of about four hundred sculptures, reliefs and mosaics dating from the Republican to the late Imperial era. The works of art, exhibited in chronological order, are part of an outstanding collection of classical sculptures from the excavations carried out in Rome between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. The masterpieces were moved here during the reorganisation of the Capitoline Museums in 1997 to create space in the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Museo Nuovo. The Montemartini power plant’s outstanding space made it possible to display monumental sculptures and reconstructions of architectural structures, such as the pediment of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus and the huge mosaic of hunting scenes from Santa Bibiana.

Statue of Aphrodite, replica of the Aphrodite carved by Kallimachos at the end of the 5th century BC, from the Esquiline Hill.
Statue of Aphrodite, replica of the Aphrodite carved by Kallimachos at the end of the 5th century BC, from the Esquiline Hill.

Centrale Montemartini is one of Rome’s most striking exhibition spaces and offers a unique museum experience.

selected masterpieces

The Column Room: displays a rich collection from the Republican era. Exhibited in this room are architectural decorations, a group of sculptures in Peperino tufa (a grey volcanic stone from the Albani Hills), beautiful mosaics with seascape and a series of portraits dating to the 1st century BC.

Architectural decorations from the Republican era and sculptures in Peperino tufa.
Architectural decorations from the Republican era and sculptures in Peperino tufa.
Statue of Orpheus charming the animals in Peperino marble, 2nd century BC, from the Via Tiburtina.
Statue of Orpheus charming the animals in Peperino marble, 2nd century BC, from the Via Tiburtina.
Funerary relief with six figures, from the ramparts of the Porta Flaminia, 1st century BC.
Funerary relief with six figures, from the ramparts of the Porta Flaminia, 1st century BC.
Mosaic depicting a labyrinth surrounded by city walls with towers, 100-80 BC, from Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, excavation of a Republican Domus.
Mosaic depicting a labyrinth surrounded by city walls with towers, 100-80 BC, from Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, excavation of a Republican Domus.

The Engine Room: the largest and most impressive room displaying a series of exquisite marble statues and rare Greek originals, arranged around two huge diesel engines and a steam turbine. Occupying the other end of the room is a reconstruction of the pediment of the Temple of Apollo Sosiano, a temple dedicated to Apollo in the Campus Martius.

The Engine Room.
The Engine Room.
The Engine Room.
The Engine Room.
The Engine Room, Imperial portraits and Roman copies of Greek originals.
The Engine Room, Imperial portraits and Roman copies of Greek originals.
Part of a statue of Antinous depicted as Apollo, 130-138 AD, from the Via dei Fori Imperiali.
Part of a statue of Antinous depicted as Apollo, 130-138 AD, from the Via dei Fori Imperiali.
The Engine Room.
The Engine Room.
The reconstructed pediment of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus with sculptures narrating the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons.
The reconstructed pediment of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus with sculptures narrating the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons.
The reconstructed pediment of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus with sculptures narrating the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons, the sculptures are Greek originals (c. 450 - 425 BC) brought to Rome in the Augustan period.
The reconstructed pediment of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus with sculptures narrating the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons. The sculptures are Greek originals (c. 450 – 425 BC) brought to Rome in the Augustan period.
Frieze from the College of the Fabri Tignarii showing a work scene in a carpenter's shop, Flavian Age, from the slopes of the Capitoline Hill.
Frieze from the College of the Fabri Tignarii showing a work scene in a carpenter’s shop, Flavian Age, from the slopes of the Capitoline Hill.
Colossal head of Fortuna Huiusce Diei, from an acrolith statue with uncovered parts in marble and the drapes in bronze, it was meant to be 8m high and dates back to 101 BC, from the sacred area in Largo Argentina.
Colossal head of Fortuna Huiusce Diei, from an acrolith statue with uncovered parts in marble and the drapes in bronze, it was meant to be 8m high and dates back to 101 BC, from the sacred area in Largo Argentina.

The Boiler Room: named after the huge steam boiler dominating the room, this room is home to a number of beautiful statues and decorative sculptures that once adorned the gardens of sumptuous imperial residences (Horti Sallustiani, Horti Liciniani, Horti Lamiani, Horti Caesaris). Funerary monuments from the Ostiense Necropolis are also on display in this room.

The Boiler Room.
The Boiler Room.
Statue of one of Niobe's sons who were killed by Artemis and Apollo, Roman copy after an early Hellenistic statue belonging to a sculptural group, from the Horti of Caesar in Trastevere.
Statue of one of Niobe’s sons who were killed by Artemis and Apollo, Roman copy after an early Hellenistic statue belonging to a sculptural group, from the Horti of Caesar in Trastevere.
Mosaic with hunting scenes, from the Horti Liciniani, early 4th century AD.
Mosaic with hunting scenes, from the Horti Liciniani, early 4th century AD.
The Boiler Room.
The Boiler Room.

Opening hours:
Tuesday-Sunday: 9.00 – 19.00;
24 and 31 December: 9.00 – 14.00;
Last admission 1/2 hour before closing time.

Regular Fees:
Adults € 7,50
Concessions € 6,50
Roman Citizens only (by showing a valid ID):
Adults € 6,50
Concessions € 5,50

Capitolini Card (Capitoline Museums + Centrale Montemartini – valid 7 days)
Adults € 16,00
Concessions € 14,00
Roman Citizens only (by showing a valid ID): 
Adults € 15,00
Concessions € 13,00

Website: http://en.centralemontemartini.org/