In C.E. 62, Saint Paul left Caesarea for Italy. Sailing in a vessel of unknown type, he reached Myra on the southern coast of Turkey, where he boarded another ship for the second leg of his trip. Acts 27:6-28:16 records subsequent events: the voyage to Crete made difficult by unusual autumnal winds; an attempt to find a Cretan harbor in which to stay the winter; and finally the tempest that drove the ship across the Adriatic and caused it to wreck on the island of Melita (Malta). This story is more than a tale of adventure. From the perspective of nautical archaeology, it preserves important information about the type of vessel on which Paul and his companions sailed: a ship en route from Alexandria to Italy (Acts 27:6), carrying grain as its cargo (Acts 27:38), as well as 276 passengers and crew members (Acts 27:37). There is little doubt that the ship in question was one of a very special fleet, designed and constructed by the Romans expressly to transport grain from the fertile land of the Nile to Italy, particularly to Rome.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Eric M. Meyers
Johns Hopkins University Press
Hirschfeld, N. (1990). The ship of saint Paul: Historical background. Biblical Archaeologist, 53(1 'An Underwater View of the Ancient World'), 25-30. doi:10.2307/3210150