On 25. – 30. June 2011 the Università di Bologna – the world’s oldest university – held its annual international summer school on the topic The Baltic and Mediterranean: A cultural bridge between northern and southern Europe, to which archaeologists, historians, regional geographers and ethnologists from both the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean were invited. Although Dr. Massimo Capulli (Università di Udine), Dr. Ronald Bockius (Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz) and myself were the only maritime archaeologists present, a wealth of aspects of maritime culture was discussed that was also relevant to archaeologists, such as the question whether similar marine environmental conditions affected similar solutions in boatbuilding and fishing techniques. In this respect particularly the paper presented by Dr. Haik Thomas Porada (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography) on traditional Pommeranian fishing was showered with questions. Naturally, Prof. Dr. Carsten Jahnke (University of Copenhagen) was also present, who most notably wrote his doctoral thesis on the “Silver of the Sea” – the herring trade. At changing locations with cultural visits, exhibitions and receptions, our Italian hosts afforded a rich and colourful programme, in which maritime aspects of culture were examined and compared from different methodological angles, naturally not least from a culinary side, with plenty of sea food. The language barrier, which often divides the academic communities of the Romanic and Germanic linguistic spheres, was bridged by a professional interpreter and our “middleman” Klaus Kempf (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek).
My contribution was dedicated to cogs in the Baltic Sea and ultimately linked to the question how cogs might be interlinked to the type of ship known in the Mediterranean as cocha. As opposed to Italian influences in northern European architecture and other artisanry and culture, shipbuilding appears to be a more vernacular trade and thus building traditions — notably the clinker technique — remained (with the exception of superficial analogies) more secluded until the advent of the great stately ships of the Renaissance and the introduction of carvel-technology in the north. My paper will be published in the proceedings currently planned by the organiser Maria Lucia De Nicolò (Università di Bologna). In the first four days ongoing research was presented and discussed, while on the last two days the annual meeting of the Association of Maritime Museums of the Mediterranean (AMMM) was held.