Atlas of Potential Sailing Mobility Mappings from the Neolithic Period to Late Antiquity: Research Data

Published: 5 June 2024| Version 7 | DOI: 10.17632/hzbg2wyjxb.7


Merchant sailing ships prior to Late Antiquity possessed limited upwind capabilities and their sailing mobility was predominantly determined by variability of the wind. Effective mapping potential sailing mobility has eluded researchers who have attempted to derive sailing abilities of ancient sailing vessels from averaged climatic wind data. A PhD study completed in 2022 at the University of Haifa, Department of Maritime Civilizations took a different approach using Data Science and simulation methods. The underlying premise was that (a) the variabilities typical to Mediterranean winds are the key drivers of sailing mobility especially when a sailing passage lies contrary to prevailing winds; (b) these variabilities can be resolved by using a large modern meteorological data set (15 years) at high spatio-temporal resolution, but they are lost in averaged climatic data sets; and (c) palaeoclimatological examination has shown that the wind patterns in the Mediterranean have not changed in the last 3000 years and more. Sailing passages are reconstructed throughout the data set using regatta weather-routing software. This reduces the meteorological data from the order of billions of records to millions of sailing records. These are further reduced by statistical methods to obtain metrics of potential sailing mobility for each passage. These metrics appear in data sheets for both direct sailing passages and for breeze assisted coastal sailing. The ancient mariners' limits of reasonability are also modelled in the process of determining practical potential sailing mobility. Each data sheet summarises 5,479 individual simulated sailings on each direct passages. The data is presented in sections for mobility, sailing characteristics including distribution of points-of-sail, and for the environment encountered in the simulated sailings. The tools to produce additional mappings are continuously maintained. Additional measures of potential sailing mobility, produced since the original research, have been added to the repository. This atlas of mappings is constantly growing and is updated several time a year. Changes in version 7: 1. Sailing mobility data sheets have been added in a new section for the the Arabian Sea (both for vessels with square sails and vessels with Lateen sails). 2. Sailing mobility data sheets have been added in a new section for the late Beaker period in the western Mediterranean. 3. New direct passage data sheets have been added for all Mediterranean basins. 4. The folder structure organising the data sheets has been modified and it now contains multilevel folders. 5. All direct passage data sheets now include a table (Table 4) indicating the average number of days, in a given month, in which severe wind and/or waves might have been encountered for each passage.



University of Haifa, Tel Aviv University


Archeology, Climatology, Data Science, Experimental Archeology, Maritime Archeology