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Keywords:

  • mast-step;
  • coin;
  • Roman;
  • shipwreck;
  • votive

The archaeological evidence of more than a dozen ancient shipwrecks indicates that the tradition of placing a coin inside the mast-step of a ship's hold probably originated with the Romans. The mast-step coin phenomenon, which persisted through the Middle Ages and continues in various forms today, has often been characterized according to the modern concept of ‘luck’. The custom was, however, not one of an exclusively maritime nature; rather, it was ultimately derived from a long-standing religious tradition that can be traced back to the consecration of the earliest Greek temples.

© 2007 The Author