Maritime archaeology started around half a century ago and it is still missing some basic material culture studies that apply to the maritime world. For instance, land archaeologists have complete chronologies for ceramic styles in particular cultures or areas, and several centuries of land excavations have established practices and methodologies that are widely acceptable allover.

Ships, ship fittings, and shipboard materials are in many cases badly known, and there are no established chronologies for many of the artifacts nautical archaeologists find, associated with shipwrecks, or pertaining to daily life aboard a ship.

This section of the NADL Project intends to address this problem, by creating and sharing collections of artifacts, texts, images, and contexts, in the hope that they will help develop the discipline further.

Some of the academic work produced within the scope of this program, which is a natural development of the work developed in the ShipLAB in the last decades, concerns collections of images or artifacts:

Kotaro Yamafune (MA, 2009-2012), Committee Chair: F. Castro, The Portuguese Century in Japan and the Namban Screens. [link]


Coral Eginton (MA 2008-2014), Committee Chair: F. Castro, Dutch ship pharmacies. [link]


Katie Custer (MA 2000-2004), Committee Chair: F. Castro, Wrought Iron Hand Tools from the Underwater Archaeological Excavations of Colonial Port Royal, Jamaica, C. 1692. [link]


This tab includes a number of ongoing projects involving collections of data:

Treatises and Technical Texts on Shipbuilding

One of the original objectives of the NADL Project was to make a number of important texts on shipbuilding available in facsimile with comments and links to topics and image metadata. We have secured permits to share a number of texts, but we are currently studying security solutions to re-upload our original page.

Meanwhile, a number of the texts considered became available online and in these cases we have opted to link this page to the libraries where they are hosted.

Ship Iconography

We have developed a collection of western ship images from the early modern period and we are developing a database that users can query.

Early Modern European Shipwrecks Database

This database is a compilation of data on published European shipwrecks from the early modern period. It is organized as a GIS with a database on the construction features preserved, recorded, and published;

Early Mediterranean Shipbuilding

This database Is also a compilation of data on published Mediterranean shipwrecks from the pre-Classical to the Middle Ages, coordinated by Carlos de Juan, and is organized as a GIS as well, with a database containing diagnostic construction features preserved, recorded, and published;

Iberian Shipbuilding Glossary

This project is an attempt to create a shipbuilding glossary for the early modern period, in six languages, and share it with specialists around the world, so that it can grow. We are particularly interested in regional variations of words and synonyms with their evolution in time.

Submerged Cultural Heritage of Portugal

This project is an attempt to share all the information – verified and unverified – about material culture found or reported along the Portuguese coast.

Marine Astrolabes Database

This is a database of all known marine astrolabes.  These instruments were adapted from the Arab astrolabes to measure the height of the Sun at noon and calculate the latitude from specially prepared tables.  Around one hundred astrolabes have survived and we are collecting and sharing data on each one.

Early Ship Bells database

Not much is known about the early use of bells on ships. Fog seems to be a reason to bring bells aboard, as well as ship’s growing size. But there is no inventory of ship’s bells before 1700 and this website is an attempt to address this research topic.