Database of ancient Ship Depictions,
Wrecks, Reconstructions
and Ship Models

Background & History

The NAVIS database is based on the NAVIS I-III databases and unified into one single database, called NAVISone.

Back in 1996, the European Commission decided the funding of the image Database NAVIS I in the context of the Raphael program, managed by the Directorate General X. The aim of the project was - and still is - to collect and present the widely dispersed information about ancient ship finds in Europe up to AD 1200, to make them available for the scientific community and the general public.
The project was realised by 8 European institutions, who are committed to the study of ancient and early medieval ship building:

- Guernsey Museums & Galleries in St. Peter Port
- Hellenic Institute of Marine Archaeology in Athens
- Museo delle Navi in Fiumicino / Soprintendenza Archeologica di Ostia
- Museo Nacional de Arcqueoloía Marítima y Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Arquelógicas Submarinas in Cartagena
- Museum für Antike Schiffahrt des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums in Mainz
- Nationalmuseets Marinarkaelogiske Forskingcenter in Roskilde
- Nederlands Instituut voor Scheeps- en Onderwaterarcheologie in Lelystad
- Shipwreck Heritage Centre in Hastings

The controlled vocabularies in 8 languages were developed during the project in several workshops throughout Europe. The concept of the databaseand and its development as well as the project coordination was done by the Museum für Antike Schiffahrt in Mainz.
NAVISone is a good example of information technology history and "fading techniques", requiring considerable amounts of manpower te keep this resource up and running over more than 25 years. In 1996, the only available interface between MSAccess and the MS Internet Information Server on Windows NT 3.51 was DbWeb, which was aquired by Microsoft to enable internet connectivity for its databases. The user interface was at that time enhanced by Java applets.

A more detailed description about the history of NAVIS I can be found in: A.W. Mees / B. Pferdehirt, Römerzeitliche Schiffsfunde in der Datenbank >>Navis I<<. Kataloge Vor- und Frühgeschichtlicher Altertümer 29, Mainz 2002.

NAVIS I (1996-1999) comprises shipwrecks, reconstructions and models. It was created by a European team of archaeologists in a series of workshops.

NAVIS II (1999-2001) focuses on ancient ship depictions on objects and was also curated by a European team of archaeologists in a series of workshops.

NAVIS III (2002) is related to ships on Roman coins from the collection of the RGZM at Mainz, Germany.

Re-Engineerung: New Common Datamodel

The re-engineering process aimed at merging 3 different databases (NAVIS I-III) into one unified NAVIS database, called NAVISone, which involved several steps: after creating a unified data model, the data had to be enhanced by completing or reconciling data which were missing in one or more of the other original databases.
The data were semantically modelled according to CIDOC CRM and its extensions (CRMdigital).

Maritime Thesaurus

The thesauri which were dispersed between NAVIS I, II and III have been unified and are now available as SKOS based resources.

Linked Open Data

In order to FAIRify the NAVISone database, the data has been made available as Linked Open Data on, following the Linked Archaeology Data Ontology (LADO).



Get in touch

Have we attracted your attention? Please get in touch with us.

  • Email

    allard.mees [at] leiza [dot] de
  • Contact

    Dr. Allard W. Mees FSA
    Leibniz-Zentrum für Archäologie (LEIZA)
    Head of the Deptartment of Scientific IT

    Guido Heinz M.Eng.
    Leibniz-Zentrum für Archäologie (LEIZA)
    Deputy Head of the Deptartment of Scientific IT

    Florian Thiery M.Sc.
    Leibniz-Zentrum für Archäologie (LEIZA)
    RSE at the Deptartment of Scientific IT

Legal Notice

according to § 5 TMG, § 55 RStV

Leibniz-Zentrum für Archäologie (LEIZA)
Stiftung des Öffentlichen Rechts
verantwortlich für
Arbeitsbereich Wissenschaftliche IT, Dr. Allard W. Mees
Ludwig-Lindenschmit-Forum 1
55116 Mainz
Email: info(at)leiza(dot)de
Tel.: +49 (0) 6131 / 8885-0
full Impressum

privacy notice