Early modern shipwrecks:

Historical Evidence of Shipwrecks in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1453–1571

“Alas! How many ships have foundered there! How many vessels have been broken upon these rocks! Here might be seen an innumerable host of ships: some broken in pieces and half-buried in sand; here is visible the poop of one, and there a prow; here a keel and there a rib; and it seems like a day of judgment when there shall be a resurrection of dead ships, so great is the mass that covers the whole northern shore. There the northern winds resounding make strange and fearful noises.” [1] Leonardo Da Vinci, the Island of Cyprus

These were the impressions of the island of Cyprus as noted by Leonardo Da Vinci in the late fifteenth century, during the reign of Catherine Cornaro. The large number of shipwrecks is a testimony for a lively marine traffic in the Eastern Mediterranean in that period.

Existing databases of ancient shipwrecks are primarily based on archaeological finds. Conversely, this project relies on written evidence contemporary with the wrecks in question. In this way, this endeavour aspires to provide archaeologists the opportunity to match their finds against the historical data, or use this data as leads for possible new discoveries.

To start searching for wrecks, return to main. Toggle between data and map mode and click on a line or a marker to display full information.

The project welcomes collaborations with marine archaeologists currently working on the excavation of shipwrecks dated to this period, the mapping of shipwrecks, or visualization tools for marine data. More information on future developments is found in the about the data section.

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[1] Leonardo Da Vinci, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, ed. & trans.by Jean Paul Richter (1955, New York), p. 371.