Full Version: Roman Navy - Question on port buildings or "ship sheds"
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After spending an hour Google'ing, with no results, I decided to register and post here...

I'm looking for information on, and images of, Roman naval ports, and specifically the circular "ship sheds" or enclosed docks used at larger ports. Does anyone know what the correct term for these structures is, or have any drawings of them?


Lionel Casson states (Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World p. 365) that no naval boathouses have survived from the Roman imperial navy. Peter Connolly has a paintings of the ones at Carthage based on Appian's description and the boathouses excavated at the Piraeus. I hope that helps!
Thanks Sean - that gives me a good starting point for further research.

Bill Weckel
Hi Bill
We do have traces of (very simple) boat houses from Haltern and several places in the Netherlands. The likely term seems to have been navalia. Legio XXII PP had its own ships at one point while based in Mainz and the optio responsible for their shipsheds was the optio navaliorum.
Thanks for the replies. The type of ship sheds I'm primarily interested are the grand circular sort seen at Carthage, as opposed to the smaller, riverine types. I'm doing some preliminary research on these in the hopes of building a scale diorama of a typical Roman Mediterranean port using small scale metal wargaming ships. I'm a scale modeler who concentrates on WWI and WWII aircraft, and have just recently developed an interest in Roman Military history. I'm particularly interested in architectural-type dioramas of Roman fortifications and harbours - I need a break from Messerschmitts and Mustangs once in a while! :-) )

The info in previous replies has helped me to find a good number of paintings and renderings of the harbor at Carthage, and what I'm looking for now are some decent drawings of the various structures that can serve as the basis for patterns to construct the models from. I did find a website that sells card models of Roman port buildings for wargaming purposes, but alas... no ship sheds.

Thanks again,

I remember seeing some nice archaeological line drawings of the stores buildings at the naval harbor of Zea in the Piraeus, but I don't know where. The builder's contract was carved into stone and mostly survived so the drawings are quite detailed.

The diorama project sounds cool! Please post some pictures when you're done.
Hi Bill
IIRC the Carthage circular shipsheds are unique. Normally they would have been placed parrallel to eachother and obviously more or less perpendicular to the shoreline. What scale are you working in? Rod Langton makes resin shipsheds alright: