Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ancient Ports – Ports Antiques: THE catalogue of Ancient Ports

[First posted in AWOL 22 April 2012, updated 15 June 2024]

Ancient Ports – Ports Antiques

This project was started in 2010, aiming at collecting, identifying and locating ancient ports and harbours. It led to an extensive Catalogue including thousands of places. Much attention was also devoted from the onset to structural aspects as described by Vitruvius, and as resulting from modern coastal engineering such as design waves and harbour silting-up. Additional attention was devoted to ancient ships and sailing, as they define the harbour needs.

This work is reported in 4 volumes, all available in pdf versions, and most of it is reproduced on this web site:

Volume I: Catalogue of Ancient Ports gives a list of ancient coastal settlements, ports and harbours with latitudes/longitudes, based on the works of ancient and modern authors.

You can download the latest updated database as an xls table and kml files.

Volume II: Citations of Ancient Authors gives citations of known ancient authors explicitly mentioning ports and harbours, in French. This work is not available on the web site as it would take too much space.

Volume III: Ancient Port Structures presents:

  • Some thoughts on the design of several ancient ports (Actium, Alexandria, Apollonia, the Bosphorus, Caesarea Maritima, Carthage, Centumcellae, Delos, El Hanieh, Leptis Magna, Marius’ canal, Narbonne, the Nile Delta, Nirou Khani, Portus, Pisa, Puteoli & Nesis, Charmuthas, Thapsus, Tyre);
  • A list of nearly 200 proposed locations for potential ancient harbours;
  • Some comments on ancient port structures, like Vitruvius’ methods, failure of breakwaters, subsidence and breakwater remains, design waves, reinforced concrete, pilae and arched breakwaters, pierced stones, defensive harbour chains, harbour silting-up, tombolos and salients;
  • Some notes on ancient merchant ships and galleys, sailing techniques and Mediterranean sailing routes;
  • Some thoughts about ancient maritime trade networks and intermodal hubs;
  • Some remarks on ancient maps, on ancient measures and ancient climate, including earthquakes and tsunamis.

Volume IV: Stories of Ancient Sailors provides around twenty stories of ancient sailors … just for the pleasure of reading, in French.

And see AWOL's


  1. Wonderful site!!! I can't tell you how long I have looked for this information, and here I find all of it in one place! Excellent!

    Are there full English translations to some of the links though? Such as in Ancient Measures and Ancient Ships?

    Thank you so much!

  2. Is there any chance of more English translations on the links? I've been on a few tours of ancient supposed ports before on missions to see whether or not anything could be reclaimed. Any further information would most definitely be welcomed =)