Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 October 2020
Dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of small boats operated inside or in the svrroundings of the greatest ports of the Roman West. They towed sea-going ships or transhipped their cargo. These working boats also connected different elements of port-systems by providing transportation between inner and outer harbours, or between maritime and fluvial ports. Archaeological evidence for these activities is becoming more and more abundant with the discovery of shipwrecks. For instance, the Arles-Rhône 3 boat was carrying stone, probably towards the Camargue in southern Gaul, when it sank in the Rhône during the Flavian era. On its return journey it might have transported imports from outer sea ports to the river port of Arles. The boatmen from the Rhône delta thus connected maritime navigation and long-distance river navigation. Indeed, the nautae of the Rhône and the Durance took charge of the latter upstream from Arles. Ostia and Portus also provide great archaeological evidence which has been recently studied by Giulia Boetto.