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stepping stones of maritime history

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The boat sank during wintertime accidentally. With belongings of the skipper still on board. The Meern 1 had a fairly luxurious cabin with bed and chest and a separate galley.

The ship was built elegant of high quality oak. It's size and narrowness (1:9,1) indicates that the vessel was not a regular bulk freighter. More likely for post, light cargo and personnel on short voyages on the Rhine.

The skipper

Was probably a carpenter who had manufactured his own furniture and repairs on the boat. The toolbox was discovered near by the vessel. Remains of two pairs of his shoes have being found in the cabine (size 45). Just outside the boat a size 35 emerged. Suggesting a second crew member a boy or a woman.
The skipper knew how to read and write, 3 roman styloid were discovered in the
cabin. It is possible that he was a veteran or a Romanized local Batavian. Trading and traveling from Roman post to post.

Fairly elegant boat

 The Roman border (Limes)

From ca. 50 AD until 230 AD the lower Rhine in the Netherlands was part the border of the Roman empire (limes). There were some 20 Roman fortresses (castella) along the (lower) Rhine in The Netherlands to guard the border. Traffic and trade was intense. The Meern 1 was operating between 150-200 AD in the region. Maybe at first as a military supply vessel. But in it's later days as a civilian freighter supplying army posts on the limes with goods and people.



Roman flat-bottomed boat.
Type: Zwammerdam (rivierpraam)

Length : 24.60 m
Width : 2.70 m
Drought : 0.50 m

Ratio : 1:9
Propulsion: sail, beam

Shell first method.Mediterranean and local
building features.

material: Oak.

The boat is one of the best preserved Roman
ships ever found.

The Meern 1 during excavation


The Meern 1 is on display in castellum De Hoge Woerd in Leidse Rijn Utrecht


E. Jansma & J Morel, Een Romeinse Rijnaak, gevonden in Utrecht-De Meern, (RAM 144, amersfoort, 2007)

3 D model of the Meern 1 inside (erfgoed Utrecht)

3 D model of the Meern 1 (erfgoed Utrecht)



East Indiaman

Roman structures