ISBSA17 – Call for Abstracts

17th International Symposium
on Boat & Ship Archaeology
Naples, 21 – 26 October 2024

Welcome !

The Programme Committee of the International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology welcomes submissions of papers and posters for the ISBSA 17, organized as a collaborative effort of the University L’Orientale of Naples, ISMEO-The International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies and the National Superintendency for the Underwater Cultural Heritage. ISBSA 17 will be held at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, Italy, from the 21st to the 26th of October 2024.

Submissions should consist of title and abstract of up to 300 words. Each applicant may submit one abstract only to the secretariat email:

The submission deadline is 1st February 2024.

For registration fees and information please refer to this page

The main theme of the 17th ISBSA will be:

The main session of the seventeenth International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology intends to explore the theme of state and private shipbuilding within various technical traditions, without chronological or geographical limitation.

Multiple parameters influence the design and construction of a ship/boat. First and foremost are the types of material available—whether locally sourced or imported, harvested in a controlled manner, collected opportunistically, or even reused. Also relevant is the technical culture of the builder and his know-how, the function for which the boat is to be used, and the financial investment of the client. The latter can play a considerable role, depending on whether the client is a private individual, a merchants’ or fishermen’s association, a religious congregation or a state. The design is also likely to be influenced by the political goal being pursued—be that military, prestige, or the objective of a command economy.

Another important parameter is the production system to which the shipyard is attached. This might be a state shipyard, financed and controlled by a political power, of which the arsenal is the most familiar model. Or it could be a private production system, of variable size, organised along artisanal lines. Such diverse production systems inhere different architectural models—uniform in the case of warships, or showing great regional diversity in the case of artisanal fishing or coastal trading vessels. This production system affects the entire “chaîne opératoire” of construction and function, from design to use; this constitutes the main focus of most archaeological research.

To what extent can archaeological, textual, archival, iconographic or ethnographic sources inform us on these important questions, which have had such a strong influence on the history of shipbuilding? How is the difference between state and private construction reflected in both the design process and the organization of the shipyard, in terms of the materials management, the know-how of the various shipbuilding trades, and in technical practices (notably the question of the shipbuilder “fingerprints” as defined by O. Crumlin-Pedersen)? Is there a permeability between vernacular shipyard practices and those of ‘professional’ yards? How do technical innovations circulate, and how are they adopted? How, and to what extent, is knowledge circulated or secretly guarded?

Besides this main theme, the ISBSA 17 remains a forum focused on progress and developments in nautical archaeology and will be open to the following usual themes:

  • Ship construction;
  • Recent discoveries;
  • Research methods;
  • Experimental nautical archaeology;
  • Nautical ethnography.
  • Wherever possible, parallel sessions will be avoided, and a large area will be devoted to posters, with time dedicated to presentations by the authors.

    Proposals for documentary films, which will be shown during the conference, are welcome.