Sea city connections: network analyses of shipwreck amphorae from Alexandria and the North-Western coastline of Egypt

Author: Omaima Eldeeb

Eldeeb, Omaima, 2020 Sea city connections: network analyses of shipwreck amphorae from Alexandria and the North-Western coastline of Egypt, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt and one of the largest seaports in the Mediterranean. It was an important maritime base for the imperial powers that ruled Egypt since its founding; and a centre of political, economic and cultural power, with influence that continues to this day. Alexandria’s maritime heritage has been underrepresented by archaeological finds from or related to the sea—especially shipwrecks. Most shipwreck sites are identified by their prominent amphorae mounds which have proven to be invaluable archaeological objects for dating shipwreck and other sites and their associated materials, illuminating trading connections, whether direct or indirect, and possible route itineraries of the wrecked ships that were transporting them. This thesis investigates the amphorae remains from the Alexandrian and the north-western Egyptian coastline sites using the network analysis approach to investigate the region’s changing commercial ties and trade networks from the Hellenistic period until the late Roman period.

The shipwreck sites examined in this thesis date from the fourth century BC., when Alexander founded the city (ca. 331 BC), to the fifth century AD, when the city enjoyed great prosperity and an extensive maritime trade network. Furthermore, this thesis focuses on amphorae recovered from terrestrial sites adjacent to the aforementioned coastline because most of them are imported and were en-route to Alexandria from different regions around the Mediterranean. The thesis applies network analyses to the data generated from amphorae finds in order to evaluate their contribution to the country’s ancient past, to understand how the economy of Alexandria was integrated within the broader Mediterranean world, and to quantify the economic implications of these interactions and other commercial connectivity.

Keywords: Network Analysis, Amphorae, Shipwrecks, Alexandria, Egypt, Pre-Hellenistic, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Mediterranean Sea, Ancient Trade Networks

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2020
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Wendy Van Duivenvoorde