Military Campaigns and the Location of Shipbuilding in Antiquity

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date



Scholarship on ancient Mediterranean fleets and shipbuilding has devoted relatively little attention to the question of where ships were built. This is due in part to a scarcity of evidence (which is not to say an absolute lack), though what evidence survives makes it clear that practices varied widely. States could choose between building ships within their own territory, constructing vessels abroad in locations selected for proximity to key resources (especially timber), or building fleets in strategic locations chosen with military objectives in mind (such as proximity to an ongoing theater of a war). Depending on circumstances, the same state might employ a variety of shipbuilding locations; at different points in its history, Classical Athens appears to have embraced all three of the aforementioned shipbuilding strategies. This paper explores how states made precisely such decisions. Focusing especially on shipbuilding during major military campaigns, I seek to differentiate the strategic calculations at play in the midst of war from strategies governing a state's routine annual shipbuilding and incremental expansion of its navy.


I International Cycle of Seminars on Ancient Naval Warfare, Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Conference website: https://www.ucm.es/eschatia/international-seminars-on-ancient-naval-warfare-2023

This document is currently not available here.