The Traditional Boats Lab, created in 2013, has been operting since September 2015 in the warehouse area of ​​the University of Cyprus, at Kallipoleos Street. The purpose of the Lab is to offer students the opportunity to understand the basic principles of ancient and traditional shipbuilding, through practical experience. The students practice shipbuilding and learn the use of shipbuilding lines through the manufacture of scaled wooden models.
The Lab also contributes in the protection and conservation of the maritime cultural heritage of Cyprus. Traditional boats - the last surviving witnesses of shipbuilding evolution of thousands of years - are systematically studied and recorded by the students.

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The MARELab, with the purpose of studying nautical tradition, has taken action to rescue traditional Cypriot vessels. Traditional wooden boats of various types are kept at the Lab:

The vessel Apostolos Andreas (LL13207), which was scheduled for withdrawal and destruction under a relevant program of the Department of Fisheries, was assigned to MARELab and was cut in such a way as to make its main construction parts distinguishable. These various parts are now stored at the open space of the Laboratory's warehouse, at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia, where they can be studyied by students.
The Lab also has a collection of rare objects and tools of traditional shipbuilding and fishing, some of which are already exhibited at the Museum of the Sea in Ayia Napa.
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The traditional wooden boats of the 20th century constitute the last tangible evidence of the centuries-old and hard to trace nautical and shipbuilding traditions of the Eastern Mediterranean. The study and documentation of their structural, functional and social characteristics is imperative in order to preserve the accumulated technical experience and knowledge which their structure and build reveals, but also the historical context in which they were created and used. Through the documentation of a boat’s architecture and geometry, its equipment and gear, but also the personal belongings of its crew, we reconstruct the biography of a nautical monument.

Agios Spyridon, one of the last Cypriot, traditional fishing boats, has been left out of the water for many years, placed next to the small harbor of Latchi in Polis Chrysochous. Constructed in Crete in 1950, it belongs to the “Karavοskara” structural type (vessels with an elliptical stern). Few such caïques survive in the Aegean today and even less are of Agios Spyridon’s size. For this reason, the vessel is considered a monument of our nautical heritage, and needs immediate protection. However, it has been left exposed on the coast of Latchi, unprotected and unmaintained since 2004, resulting in its gradual deterioration. Some actions taken to rescue the vessel in 2006 were unfruitful and in 2017, the Municipality of Polis Chrysochous came to the decision to destroy the ship.

Informed of this decision, the Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory (MARELab) of the University of Cyprus, in collaboration with the Cyprus Institute proceeded in documenting the ship using conventional and digital recording. This effort was supported both by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research and the Municipality of Polis Chrysochous. The next step is to procure funding for a controlled destruction of the boat, which will allow for the complete recording of its structural, morphological and technological characteristics.

In this manner Agios Spyridon will be reconstructed digitally and selected sections of its structure will be preserved as physical evidence of its technical construction and functional usage. Parallel to this, ethnographic research is being conducted on the ship’s history and its use as a fishing boat for over fifty years, thus connecting it with the history and the development of fishing, an equally important nautical art with great history in the region.

Alongside the documentation, efforts are being made to find ways of disseminating the results of this research and to exhibit the boat’s material evidence and artefacts, to make Cypriot and foreign visitors aware of the centuries-old shipbuilding and fishing traditions and their importance to the island.


View the digital reconstruction of the boat here.

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In 2012, Konstantinos Nicolaou, in the framework of his study of the Cypriot nautical tradition during his studies at the Department of History and Archeology of the University of Cyprus, constructed a copy of a traditional Cypriot boat, of Pasaara type. The Anerousa was donated to the MARELab, and has since been  donated to the Municipal Museum of the Sea in order for it to be accessible to visitors of the museum.