The Venetian Galley of Flanders: From Medieval (2-Dimensional) Treatises to 21st Century (3-Dimensional) Model
Higgins, Courtney Rosali
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Nautical archaeologists and scholars often try to recreate how ships were built and maneuvered. Due to the delicate nature of older wooden vessels, there is often little archaeological evidence remaining to aid in these studies, and researchers must supplement what little they have with other resources, such as texts. By using computer programs to synthesize and enhance the information in the texts, scholars can better understand the vessel and explore questions that even hull remains may not be able to address. During the High to Late Middle Ages, Venice was a key city for trade and commerce. Its location on the Adriatic Sea connected merchants throughout mainland Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Since its founding in the low Middle Ages, Venice has been connected to the sea, leading to a long history of seafaring and shipbuilding. By the end of the Middle Ages, Venice had established several trade routes throughout the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and one long sea route into the Atlantic, to Lisbon, Flanders, and London. Although no archaeological evidence of these galleys have been found, several contemporary texts describe the merchant galleys of the 15th century. Two of these texts, dating to the first half of the 15th century discuss the dimensions the galley: The book of Michael of Rhodes and the book of Giorgio "Trombetta" da Modone. Perhaps complementary copies of the same original, these texts contain enough information to reconstruct a 3-dimensional model of the galley of Flanders's hull, in this case using off-the-shelf software ((Rhinoceros). From this computer model the vessel can then be analyzed for volumetric information in order to better understand the hull capacity and how the ship was laden.