Ancient Greece: Naval
Ancient Ships, Vessels, Boats, and Naval Warfare
2500 Year Old Greek Ship
2,500-Year-Old Greek Ship Raised off Sicilian Coast
Maria Cristina Valsecchi in Rome for National Geographic News August 11, 2008. An ancient Greek ship recently raised off the coast of southern Sicily, Italy, is the biggest and best maintained vessel of its kind ever found, archaeologists say. At a length of nearly 70 feet (21 meters) and a width of 21 feet (6.5 meters), the 2,500-year-old craft is the largest recovered ship built in a manner first depicted in Homer's Iliad, which is believed to date back several centuries earlier. The ship's outer shell was built first, and the inner framework was added later. The wooden planks of the hull were sewn together with ropes, with pitch and resin used as sealant to keep out water.
Ancient Greece - War - The British Museum
An Interactive game made by the British Museum. You will play as the commander of a triremes during the wars with Persia in a huge sea battle near the island of Salamis. The Greek navy won with ships called triremes, let's see how many ships you can ram.
Ancient Greek Boating and Sailing
Ancient Greek Methods of Boating and Sailing by Kenny McMahon and Nick Chadha. Boating and sailing became very important to the Greek way of life. The Greeks needed ways to import and export trade goods both within Greece and to other countries. The mountainous terrain of Greece made sailing the easiest way. Wars also caused countries to learn about sailing. Navies became a must in these wars. For instance, the battle of Salamis (480 B.C.) was won because the Athenian navy was superior to the Persian navy.
Ancient Greek Naval Warfare
Before 800BC there was no dominant ship type used in the navies of the Aegean Sea. Most ships were little more than long boats of a primitive design. In war they were mainly used to transport troops and naval battles were boarding actions. In 800BC the ram was invented and this changed naval battles to a contest of speed and maneuver. At first this led to the development of the Penteconter (meaning 50-oared), a sleek ram-armed and fast war galley power by fifty oars, with twenty-five to a side and manned by fifty oarsmen. A large Penteconter could range up to 37-38 meters, the beam would be four meters to allow room for the rowers to work the oars. These ships would have a top speed of 9-10 knots. There was also a smaller war galley, the Triaconter (meaning 30-oared) used in the navies of the Aegean Sea.
Ancient Greek Ship
Image from Bible History Online
Ancient Greek Ships
Ancient Greek Ships - Part 1
Michael Lahanas. Greece has a very rich tradition in maritime trade. Under Greek or foreign flags Greek owners with their ships control around 16% of the world trade. The information about ancient Greek ships is very limited. The problem is that the wood with which these ships are built does not survive long enough in the sea. The lifetime of wooden ships is very limited as we for example know from various stories such as that of Columbus and his last voyage to America where he had problems that his ships after the long time in sea water were so much destroyed (eaten up by worms) that there was always a danger of sinking. After a few centuries sunken ships are eaten up by various organisms in the sea and therefore it is not surprising that almost none of the ancient Greek ships survived. We know what we know from literature sources such as from Homer describing Odysseus building a ship or from pottery images or from fresco paintings. Here the problem is how much these images (or text) are artistic and how much they represent the reality.
Ancient Greek Ships - Part 2
Stories: In his time, as Hesiod says, ""Work was a shame to none," nor was any distinction made with respect to trade, but merchandise was a noble calling, which brought home the good things which the barbarous nations enjoyed, was the occasion of friendship with their kings, and a great source of experience. Some merchants have built great cities, as Protis, the founder of Massilia, to whom the Gauls near the Rhine were much attached. Some report also that Thales and Hippocrates the mathematician traded; and that Plato defrayed the charges of his travels by selling oil in Egypt. Plutarch Solon., He [Corobius] was relieved, however, after a while by a Samian vessel, under the command of a man named Colaeus, which, on its way to Egypt, was forced to put in at Platea. The crew, informed by Corobius of all the circumstances, left him sufficient food for a year.
Ancient Greek Trade
Greece has a very rich tradition in maritime trade. The introduction of trade into the Greek culture was one of the most defining points in the history of ancient Greece. Simple transactions set the stage for larger scale trade to come. As trade the Greek city states (especially Athens) began to export many goods, including beautiful decorative items , and ships. The most common ship in ancient Greece was the cargo ship ,only second to the Greek warship. These cargo ships were used to transport goods which made ancient Greece prosperous.
Ancient Ships in Art History
Ancient Ships in Art History: Illustrations of the history of Ancient Greece, the Greek Epic Poems, the Trojan War and Greek History
Ancient Ships in art history: Illustrations from Greek Pottery of the History of Ancient Greece, the Greek Epic Poems and the Trojan War. It is fortunate for sake of Greek history that verbal descriptions of Bronze Age ships from ancient Greece abound in the stories of Homer. However the identity of Homer is not entirely certain and the stories which make up the Iliad and the Odyssey may be the products of a long oral tradition of story telling in the ancient Greek culture which were not committed to written text until as late as the 6th Century BCE, however it is Homer who is criedited to have committed these stories to their first written copies.
Argo and the Argonautic Expedition.
Greek Mythology. The purpose of the Argonautic expedition was to fetch the golden fleece from Colchis (Aea), which lied at the end of the Black sea. The golden fleece belonged to the ram, which Phrixus used to flee from his father, the king of Orchomenos in Boeotia, and his stepmother, when they were preparing to sacrifice him. Phrixus reached the palace of king Aetes, who received him with honors and gave him his daughter. When Phrixus sacrificed the lamp to Zeus, he gave the fleece to Aetes and he hung it up in an oak, in the grove of Ares and put a sleepless dragon to guard it, day and night.
Battle of Salamis
After the Battle of Thermopylae, Athens was in despair. The Athenians knew that their city would surely be destroyed by the Persians. There was simply no place between the Persians and Athens where the Greeks dared to risk battle. Most of the Athenians fled to the island of Salamis where they watched their city burn and placed their trust in the fleet. Knowing that winter would soon be arriving, Xerxes decided on a naval assault on the remaining Athenians and their naval forces stationed at Salamis. This great naval battle was fought between the Greeks and Persians in 480 BC in the narrow straight between Salamis and Attica. The Persian fleet was lessened somewhat because of a storm but it was still a vastly larger force than the Greeks. The Persians had around seven hundred ships, the Greeks around three hundred. The Spartans and other allies were encamped in the Isthmus of Corinth, awaiting the outcome of the sea battle.
To increase momentum meant more rowers, to reduce extra size and weight meant putting oars and oarsmen over one another. This leads to the bireme (or dieres) (probably introduced by the Erythraeans).
Discovery Channel - Ancient Greek Ships
The Greeks have been sailing for 10,000 years and have one of the strongest maritime traditions in the world. Archaeological finds - combined with pottery, art and poems of the period - have led experts to believe that the ancient Greeks used oared ships with large crews, as well as sailing boats of differing designs. A fresco uncovered on the Greek island of Santorini, in the excavated town of Ancient Akrotiri, depicts the variety of ships used by the Minoan civilisation 3,500 years ago. These include trading and working ships, while other more ornate barges carry a small number of important passengers.
Giant Hellenistic Warships
Michael Lahanas. The super-galleys of the Hellenistic Age. Today ships are still very important for the military. Giant US airplane carriers are like small cities. Often they are compared with the small triremes showing the advance in technology. Of course the fire power has increased dramatic the last 2300 years. The small 200 crew triremes cannot be compared to the biggest US warships. But if we consider the Hellenistic period we have to consider the larger warships which are not so well known today as maybe the triremes. In the Hellenistic period the Greeks produced ships of incredible dimensions for that time. In some cases the crew was larger than that of modern US warships (crew size but not the ship dimension) ! It is not clear how such ships could be produced using wood and not steel and special metallic alloys.
Greek Merchant Ship 300 B.C.
The naval Greek history does not have a concrete point of beginning. Roots are lost in depths of centuries of history of human gender. In a geographic space within 150 km. from the sea, the Greeks from the prehistoric years developed societies as a rule coastal. As most of the interior land is mountainous and difficult to farm, Greeks have to explore the marine resources and love the sea.
Greek Trireme Model Ship
The Greek Trireme was the "state of the art" fighting ship designed to be able to cover long distances quickly under oar and sail, and in battle to ram enemy ships with devastating effect. Money from the new vein of silver in Laurion enabled Athens to buy timber from Italy to increase her fleet from 40 in 489 BC to 200 in 480. The polis paid for the ship and its crew. Equipment and repairs were paid for by a rich citizen as one of the liturgies.
Greek Warships - History for Kids
People called the earliest Greek warships pentekontors. Pentekontors were long, narrow ships, designed to go fast so they could overtake other ships and attack them. They had 25 rowers, or oarsmen, on each side. By the 500's BC, in the Archaic period, though, Greek carpenters were building even faster ships. These new ships had more oars, and more oarsmen to pull them. And they had bronze points on the front, called rams, so they could smash into enemy ships and break them up. People called these new ships triremes, meaning "three oars". Instead of twenty-five oarsmen, triremes carried seventy-five on each side, three times as many. They had three sets of oars, one on top of the other, so they could go very fast. Archaeologists think that triremes could go as fast as 14 knots in good weather. Triremes didn't carry very many soldiers though - they were weapons themselves, for naval warfare, not troop carriers.
Kyrenia II Ship
In the winter of 1967 a Greek-Cypriot diver, Andreas Kariolou, accidentally discovered, in the depths of the sea outside the town of Kyrenia, the trails of a unique relic of antiquity, a ship later known as the "Kyrenia Ship". Michael Katzev of the American Institute of Nautical Archaeology subsequently excavated it. The Kyrenia ship was built in the early 4th century B.C. and is the oldest Greek vessel ever discovered. Ancient shipwrecks have been found elsewhere in the Mediterranean Sea and the few parts of them studied have yielded valuable, but yet, incomplete information about the methods used by our ancestors in ancient shipbuilding. In this context the importance of the Kyrenia Ship is significant, as it is the best-preserved ship of the Classical period of Greek civilisation ever found to date. It is important to note that, 75% of the ship, that measures 15 metres in length, has been preserved as it was safeguarded under a protective layer of sand.
Merchant Vessels and Pleasure Craft
Ancient Ships in Art History: Merchant Vessels and Pleasure Craft of the Greek Islands as Depicted in Ancient Greek Art
Merchant Vessels and Pleasure Craft of the 2nd and 1st Millennia BCE as shown in ancient art. At the time when ancient histories were not recorded in the written word it is archeology and art history that give us insight into the nature of the ancient world. Artifacts found in situ their characteristics and the comparative analysis of these items along with the scientific clues they give us are the threads of evidence that lead us to new conclusions about the times and places where these items were made and used ... Both archeology and art history are disciplines that lead to powers of observation, records keeping , memory banks of comparative data and the art of deductive reasoning. As a prime example of this concept we are fortunate to have a moment frozen in time on the island of Santorini, which was covered by the volcanic eruption of Thera in approximately 1625 BCE.
Model in clay of Trireme exhibited in a Museum of Sparta
Model of a Greek Trireme
The museum of Ancient Greek Trireme "Olympias" (Replica)
Before the invention of the trireme the standard warship was a single-banked ship with a crew of 50 rowers (25 a side), called a pentekonter...
Perseus Image: Merchant and War Ships
Merchant and War ships as depicted in ancient pottery. Photograph courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum, London, March 1990 (Maria Daniels)
Perseus: Image: Part of the Hull
Part of the Hull of an Homeric Ship. [a, meso/dmh, mast-box; b, beams parallel to c, the gunwale; d, klhi_des, rowlocks; e, bed of the oar; f, zu/ga, thwarts (should cross the hold); g, qrh_nus, braces for the feet; h, i)/kria, ribs; i, tro/pis, keel; k, a(rmoniai/, slabs sustaining the floor; l, e)/dafos, floor; m, keelson.]
Relief of a Dorian Ship
Relief of a Rhodian ship cut into the rock at the foot of the steps leading to the Acropolis. On the bow stood a statue of General Hagesander Mikkion, the work of the sculptor Pythokritos, who carved the Winged Victory of Samothrace, according to the inscription. The ship bears traces of paint. The relief (180-170 BC) is separated by a barrier.
The Pharos of Alexandria
By Michael Lahanas. Sostratus, the son of Dexiphanes, the Cnidian, dedicated this to the Saviour Gods, on behalf of those who sail the seas. Dedicatory inscription of the Lighthouse, completed around 280-279 BC. The first lighthouse of the World, the "Pharos of Alexandria", lasted for over 1500 years in the harbor of Alexandria. It is one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World described by the poet Antipater of Sidon around 130 BC.The Pharos was built to warn sailors of the treacherous sandbars off Alexandria, one of the busiest ports of the ancient world. It consisted of a three-stage tower, decorated with sculptures of Greek deities and mythical creatures, atop which stood a lantern with a giant bonfire whose light may have been focused by mirrors, perhaps made of polished bronze, into a beam visible 35 miles out to sea. 300 Slaves worked on the Pharos that was build in 17 years.
The stern of Trireme Olympias
How was a trireme built? By E.J. de Meester. For many centuries people have speculated about the way the warships of the ancient Greeks and Romans were built. Most controversial is the trireme (Greek triÃ¨rÃ¨s, Latin triremis) in which three rowers sat next to each other on each side (six in a row in total). Two attempts have been made to build a full-size replica of a trireme: in the 19th century under Napoleon III and in 1985-7 by the English professor John Morrison and the ship designer John Coates. The second attempt was undoubtedly more successful than the first, but many aspects are still controversial. It seems that there are plans in the Netherlands to build a third replica. I became interested because I was building little ship models as a hobby, and also because of two exhibitions: Greece and the Sea in the New Church in Amsterdam in l987 and Ancient Ships and Seafaring in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam in l995-6. At the latter exhibition there was a test section that was used to design the Olympias, the trireme of Morrison and Coates. One was allowed to sit in it, which I did, after much hesitation, when there was nobody around (apart from the surveillance cameras). The Olympias itself was scheduled to come to Amsterdam too, but unfortunately this was cancelled because the hull was too worm-eaten.
The Trireme - Part 1
Homer describes in the second book of the Iliad how 1186 Greek ships were used for the transport of the Greek army to Troy or Ilios which was probably derived from Wilusa. The reason for this expedition was not the beautiful Helena but probably to obtain the control of the passage to the black sea from Troy (a city that now is known as Troy VIIa and which was destroyed by the Greeks in 1180 BC ) . Among the ships Homer describes that each of the 50 Boetian Ships carried 120 warriors. The ships were probably covered by a black paint (probably pitch for the protection of the wood) and had a single sail. When the Greek Ships arrived in Troy they were drawn on land and were surrounded by a wall for their protection, a procedure used later as described also by Julius Caesar. The anchor was a simple heavy stone. Homer describes how Odysseus built his own Ship by cutting 20 trees. Navigation at that time was probably mostly limited close to the land and not on the open sea without sight of the land.
The Trireme - Part 2
The Crew, Tactics, Stories, Discoveries, References, Links
Travel and Transportation in Ancient Greece
It has been suggested that the first ships of Egypt were reed boats. In ancient China ships were modeled after swimming ducks and were even made to look like them. In northern Europe the first ships were modeled after skin boats. But none of these environments provided the motive for building ships that the Aegean did. In that sea were inviting crystal clear waters and green islands that could be seen from shore. Oared ships were described in many stories of ancient times. These seem to have been modeled after the dugout canoe. But a sailing ship was also developed along different lines... Danaus is given in one myth as the first to sail such a ship as he seemed to feel his daughters were unfit for oars. But the sailing ship seems to have been based on the first ships made of lumber boards. Early on these ships were literally sewn together while the later ships were mortised and tenoned. Joining wood edge to edge is quite old as the following passage suggests:
Ancient Greece, wooden sailing boat with two large sails. Jonothan Potter (c) Dorling Kindersley
Trireme - Hellenic sailors
The masterpiece of ancient greek shipbuilding was, undoubtedly, the trireme. According to Thucydides it was created by Corinthians at the 7th century BC and at the 6th century BC it was used widely as a war ship. According to another opinion, it was created in the Aegean area at around 530 BC, and its design was influenced by the Phoenicians' ships. Terminally, other scientists claim that Corinthians and particularly Ameinocles, where those who designed this ship and probably Polycrates was the first who used the trireme on behalf of the Pentekonters.
Trireme Olympias of the Hellenic Navy (Replica)
War Ships of the Greeks
Ancient Ships: The Ship of Antiquity " War Ships of the Greeks
Legend has it, that for ten long years the Greeks laid siege to the ancient city of Troy but could not take it. Then one night they sailed away leaving only a large Wooden Horse. Thinking that the Greeks had given up and returned home the Trojans took what they thought was a large idol into the city as war booty. That night ten brave men crawled out of the belly of the horse. They opened the gates of the city allowing the returning Greek soldiers to pour in and defeat the mighty city of Troy. The Bireme was the warship used at the time of the Trojan wars. It had a broad bottom with a shallow draft. Biremes were propelled by two banks of oars and virtually skimmed over the seas. The bow had a portion that protruded out at water level. It is thought that this configuration was intended for ramming and piercing the enemy's ships hull.
Wood model of a Greek Trireme.
Part of the collection of the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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