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January 09, 2007

More Roman Ship models

I know, I know, I'm an anorak when it comes to ships! My excuse for the photo below is that it is a pair of beautifully made modesls of two different types of Roman bireme. These ships were the most powerful of their day and surprisingly enough most were not rowed by slaves, but by hired seamen. The discharge papers these guys were handed on leaving military service have survived in a number of forms and several seamen have been accorded the honour of grave markers of quite elaborate design.

Two types of Roman military bireme, the smaller vessel probably designed to get in close and do damage to larger and less manoeuvrable vessels to enable them to be boarded and taken by their larger consorts.

The bireme with its double bank of oars must have been quite an interesting ship to handle one way or another. Certainly the rowing of them would have required a degree of co-ordination and skill, especially in any sort of seaway. An oarsman "catching a crab" in a modern boat is quite bad enough, it can tangle other oars, damage the boat and even, in extreme cases cause a boat to capsize. To do the same in a ship of this size with oars of this size would have caused mayhem! Note that the lower oars have leather sleeves fitted, suggesting that this tier of oars was close enough to the waterline for them to ship water through these openings while on passage.

Apparently the preferred seat for those with experience in these ships was the upper tier. With no toilet facilities I'll leave the why to your imagination!

Posted by The Gray Monk at January 9, 2007 03:22 PM

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