NB: the definitions provided below are no more than the most probable (and schematic) definitions. Note also that some small variations of the meaning may exist when translating from one language into another.
1. Geographical descriptions
oikoumene (Latin: oecumene, mundus; FR: monde habité; GB: inhabited world): initially described as a circular island in the middle of an external ocean.
periêgêsis, periodos, periplous (Latin: periplus, descriptio; FR: périple; GB: round trip): designates a go-around tour with a detailed description, and ‘periplous’ being more devoted to sailing.
stadiasmos (Latin: stadiasmus; FR: stadiasme; GB: stadiasmus): description of the world based on an itinerary, usually along the coastline, on board a ship or on foot and mentioning distances (usually in stadia).
2. Harbours and mooring places
emporion (Latin: emporium, portus; FR: ville portuaire; GB: port of trade): maritime city with commercial port and trade facilities.
aigialos, aktè (Latin: acta, litus; FR: plage de halage; GB: beaching area) is a simple beach used for hauling ships on. Such a beach can be made of sand, shingle, or even rock. Thucydides (Pelop. War, 4, 26) used ‘katarsis’ for a landing place. The Latin word ‘ripa‘ was used for what we might call a “beach market” where business was conducted on an urban beach without any port infrastructures (e.g., Vicus Lartidianus at Puteoli).
salos, episalos, ankyrobolion (Latin: statio navium; FR: mouillage peu profond sur rade ouverte; GB: shallow anchorage in open roadstead): shallow anchorage preferably on sandy bottom providing good holding for anchors, but with limited protection against waves and therefore of temporary use. The Latin word ‘statio’ seems to designate a secondary maritime customs office, among many other meanings.
limên (Latin: portus, statio navium; FR: rade, havre, abri, port; GB: roadstead, harbour, port): sheltered area where ships can load and unload in most weather conditions, with or without port facilities like quays. A good port will enable operations independently of wave and current conditions. Strabo (Geogr. 16, 2) also used ‘eulimenos’ for a good harbour at Laodicea and ‘euphuei limeni’ for a good harbour at Sidon. The word ‘panormos’ is used for a very good shelter and often used as a toponym. Strabo (Geogr. 14, 1 & 14, 6) also used ‘hyphormos’ for a landing place sheltered from only one wind direction.
hormos, lekanion, mandrake (Latin: navaculum?; FR: darse, bassin portuaire; GB: dock, harbour basin): enclosed area of water used for loading, unloading, building or repairing ships, with mooring facilities on a quay or on a mooring buoy.
epineion (Latin: portus; FR: avant-port; GB: fore-port): port disconnected from the city and used for war ships (e.g. Piraeus/Athens and Ostia/Rome).
naustathmon (Latin: navale; FR: base navale; GB: naval base, naval station): harbour, or harbour section, used mainly for war ships.
neôrion (pl. neôria) (Latin: navalia; FR: arsenal, chantier naval; GB: dockyard, shipyard): place for ship building and repair.
neôsoikos (pl. neôsoikoi), epistion (Latin: navale, navalia; FR: loge, hangar à bateau; GB: shipshed, boathouse): shed for sheltering a boat, usually built partly over water.
limên kleistos (pl. limenes kleistoi) (Latin: portus; FR: port fermé; GB: closed port): intra-muros port connected to the city, protected by the city walls and with a narrowed entrance closable by means of doors and/or a chain.
kôthôn (Latin: cothon, cothonum; FR: cothon; GB: cothon): used since antiquity to refer to the circular port of Carthage. Today’s specialists of harbour archaeology unduly associate this term to an excavated harbour-basin of any shape connected to the sea through a channel (Carayon, 2017). The term ‘kibotos‘ (chest, box), used in Alexandria, would better fit quadrilateral shapes. The Greek word for an excavated man-made harbour-basin is ‘oryktos‘.
lekanion, mandraki, hormos (Latin: navaculum?; FR: darse, bassin portuaire; GB: dock, harbour basin): enclosed area of water used for loading, unloading, building or repairing ships.
ichthyotrofeíon (Latin: piscina; FR: basin d’aquaculture; GB: artificial fish pond, fish pool): used for breeding fish, usually a structure built out from the shoreline into the sea with marine concrete, or cut into shoreline formations of soft bedrock (acc. to Oleson, 2014).
diorygma, diôrux cheiropoiêtos (Latin: fossa; FR: canal; GB: canal): man-made navigation canal.
3. Harbour structures
choma (Latin: agger, moles, brachium; FR: brise-lames; GB: breakwater): massive rubble mound built out into the sea. Appian (Libyca, 121) uses this word for Scipio’s rubble embankment at Carthage. However, the same Appian (Libyca, 123-124) also mentions a quay as a ‘choma’ – ‘chomati’, and Strabo (Geogr. 5.4.6) describes the Puteoli arched moles as a ‘chomata’. The Latin word ‘brachium’ stands for ‘arm’ and is used in ancient port descriptions to designate a mole with a curved plan-shape (typically at Portus). The word ‘mole’ is still used both in FR and GB by archaeologists for a massive structure separating two bodies of water, like a breakwater, a jetty or a causeway.
prokumia, prokymatia (Latin: moles, brachium; FR: brise-lames; GB: breakwater): massive structure built out into the sea to protect a port from wave attack: Flavius (Jewish War 1.412 & Jewish Ant. 15.334) describing the Caesarea mole, makes a distinction between the detached outer breakwater as a ‘prokumia’ and the main breakwater supporting the city wall, towers, warehouses and quays, as a ‘teichos’. The Latin word ‘munitio’ was found on an inscription (CIL X.1641 dated 139 AD) designating a embankment protecting the Puteoli arched breakwater.
probolon, choma, apobasis (Latin: crepido; FR: quai; GB: quay; US: dock): structure to load and unload ships that can be docked and moored on only one side, usually made of blocks of stone or masonry.
skala (Latin: scala; FR: appontement, débarcadère; GB: wharf, landing stage; US: pier, landing stage): structure to load and unload ships, usually on piles (e.g. finger pier).
sitônion (Latin: horreum (pl. horrea); FR: entrepôt; GB: warehouse): public warehouses used to store grain and many other types of consumables.
diolkos (Latin: clivus; FR: cale de halage; GB: slipway, ways): ramp sloping toward the water on which boats can be hauled in and out of the water. . The most famous one being the Diolkos of Corinth.
4. Harbour construction
symmagma? (Latin: caementa; FR: agrégats; GB: rubble aggregate): decimetre-sized chunks of rock (preferably Puteoli volcanic tuff, but possibly calcarenite) incorporated with mortar to form Roman concrete (Latin: rudus, opus caementicium).
telma (Latin: materia, arenatum, commixtione; FR: mortier de chaux; GB: lime mortar) is a mixture of lime (GR: chalix; Latin: calx; FR: chaux) and sand (GR: ammos; Latin: arena; FR: sable).
The Romans invented marine concrete (FR: béton hydraulique, béton maritime) which is made by adding some activated aluminium silicates (pozzolana) to activate setting in wet condition, or underwater, and further protect hardened concrete from chemical attack, inducing an extraordinary longevity in seawater, not yet fully understood.
ammokonia, konis (Latin: puteolanus pulvis; FR: pouzzolane; GB: pozzolana) is a powdery, pumiceous, incoherent volcanic ash, found in the Campi Flegrei volcanic district, near the city of Puteoli (modern Pozzuoli) (Oleson, 2014).
pila (Latin: pila; FR: bloc de béton; GB: block of concrete): large mass of concrete, often a cube or rectangular prism in shape which is poured into wooden formworks, possibly underwater.
kibôtion (Latin: arca; FR: coffrage, caisson; GB: formwork, caisson): structure, usually made of timber, into which concrete or similar materials are poured. The vertical piles placed on the outer walls of the caisson are called stipites, the piles placed inside the caisson are destinae and the horizontal tie-beams are catenae.
anachoma, gephyra? (Latin: arcae duplices, saeptio; FR: batardeau; GB: cofferdam): watertight structure, usually made of sheet piling, that encloses an area under water that can be pumped dry, in order to enable construction work to be carried out “in the dry”.
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