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Published in: Journal Of Hellenic Religion, , Vol. 6, 35-54.

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The ship as symbol and its possible meaning in a particular context have been little explored until recent years in the field of maritime archaeology1. As Westerdahl has pointed out “it is an additional challenge to archaeology to explore and interpret these cognitive elements and their role in maritime cultures of the past, illustrated […] by the wood, the building place, the equipment, the ship as a unit”2. Here, we argue that the myth of the legendary ship Argo may demonstrate some important cognitive aspects of the use and building of prehistoric watercraft, revealing the symbolic significance and possible meanings of the ship as a material object in past societies. The archetypal symbolisms of Argo place the ship and her cultural phenomenon within a wider temporal and geographical context that may contribute to future archaeological interpretations through particular analogues.

1 E.g. Westerdahl, C. “Boats apart – Building and equipping an Iron-Age and early-Medieval ship in Northern Europe”. The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 37 (1) (2008): 17–31 (esp. p. 17).

2 Westerdahl 2008: 17.

Keywords: Argo,Argonautica,Ancient Religion,mythology,ship,hermeneutics.

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