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Reconstructed Trireme - 11/16/2017 10:07:39 PM   
drewgalander

 

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I remembered seeing a documentary some years ago about a reconstructed trireme crewed by volunteer rowers – to test the ancient sources for such ships. So if anyone is interested in looking at what a trireme may have been like in reality - Google the Trireme Trust website and search YouTube for a video of sea trials of the reconstructed trireme Olypias. Worth a look as it may help you envisage the potential and limitations of your ancient naval force!

Note: The Trireme Trust was set up in 1982 by the historian and academic, John Morrison, naval architect, John Coates, and writer Frank Welsh to investigate the nature of the trireme, the most important warship of the ancient Mediterranean world. Their collaboration resulted in the building and launch in 1987 by the Hellenic Navy of a full-scale reconstruction, the Olympias, powered in accordance with the ancient evidence by 170 oars arranged over three levels. A series of six sea-trials between 1987 and 1994 demonstrated that the ship could be rowed efficiently and fast. The ship itself was used to carry the Olympic flame across Piraeus harbour shortly before the opening of the Athens Olympic Games. Since 1994, the Trireme Trust has been dedicated to disseminating information about the ship as widely as possible, through publications, lectures to schools and historical/archaeological societies, supply of photographic images, and television and press interviews, and to carrying out further research based on the sea-trials.
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RE: Reconstructed Trireme - 11/17/2017 7:14:18 AM   
Niessuh

 

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Indeed! We talk about this during the betatest. It was a very serious recreation that allowed to reveal real features of the trireme, even if rowers were not life long trained

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympias_(trireme)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7da52cJLwW8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mR3b0VaVQ4

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RE: Reconstructed Trireme - 11/17/2017 11:39:19 AM   
drewgalander

 

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Thanks for putting the links in Daniel (I wasn't allowed to - something to do with most of my posts being on Slitherine forum rather than here....or some such nonsense!).

I actually met one of the rowers some years ago. As someone who wargamed ancient naval at the time it was very interesting to hear his take on the rowing experience. Though he had said it was uncomfortable he thought it must have been unbearable for long stretches of time - though I guess the rowers would have got used to it! It does help to explain why galleys tried to beach overnight. He did think there would be a big difference between "free" rowers and any navies that used chained slaves as their rowers. Headroom was a difficulty for the modern crew - but that raises the question of the extent to which "classical men" were significantly shorter than the modern crew or whether it was just accepted as a cramped environment. He also thought there was an interesting issue around muscle build and food intake etc. Modern rowers tended to be more about short sprints and food / fluid intake that was carefully considered - classical rowers would have been much different. I remember reading somewhere that rowers in the classical period (as opposed to slave rowers) could be identified in a crowd as they were generally short, with lopsided muscle development in their upper arms (due to where they were situated when rowing!).

He did say that he was amazed at how manoeuvrable it was - due to the combination of oars and rudders it could do very rapid changes of face - but lost all momentum when doing so and it was a considerable strain on the rowers to then get up to any sort of useful speed again. Also - though its natural tendency was to float there was often a feeling that things (e.g. mast, oars, the whole ship!) might break very easily if something went wrong and it felt as if it could lose stability very quickly if too much was put on high in the structure (so they tried to keep the reconstruction as light as possible on the "deck". The crew had discussed the effects of ramming and raking on a crew. The structure meant that unless chained you would be able to get out fairly quickly if rammed, but apparently mnay ancient sailors couldn't swim! Raking on the other hand would cause devastating damage to the rowers as the oars shattered and crushed the rowers. The reconstruction had tied oars to, amongst other things, reduce the risk of injury from oars coming loose.

< Message edited by drewgalander -- 11/17/2017 11:41:26 AM >

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RE: Reconstructed Trireme - 11/18/2017 7:31:01 PM   
Niessuh

 

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Interesting! The rowing profession was very respectable indeed, and in this era the use of slaves was very unusual, if not nonexistent. What we see in the Ben-Hur movies is possibly an anachronism taken from the Spanish galleys of the Middle Ages, where the oarsmen were indeed slaves or convicts. The only exception to this that I know was the Arginusae battle, where a conscript fleet with slaves and non athenian citizens was assembled to relief the trapped main fleet.

about triremes' fragility:
quote:

To strengthen and protect a hull made in this way from rough seas, the Greeks used devices called 'under-belts' (hypozomatd). These were probably heavy ropes fitted low down in the ship and stretched by means of windlasses from stem to stern. In the Naval Inventories four are the norm for each ship, while six are taken on distant missions. Indeed when a trireme was in commission she was often described as 'girded', that is, with the hypozomata fitted. An earlier Athenian inscription, dating to around 440 BC, gives a decree prescribing the minimum number of men (probably 50) allowed to rig a hypozoma. It is clear that considerable tension was required. Apollonios of Rhodes, describing the building of the Argo, says that the Argonauts 'first girded the ship mightily with a well twisted rope from within, putting a tension on each end so that the planks should fit well with the tenons and should withstand the opposing forces of the sea surge'.


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RE: Reconstructed Trireme - 11/24/2017 11:11:26 AM   
Destraex

 

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Trireme commander uses the Olympias data to recreate the vessels physics

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