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Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Fri Jun 24, 2016 4:46 pm

>>>> Warships #1 <<<<

In the distant past, warships and merchant ships were just as important as they are in the present day. Their construction, compared to today’s construction was very different, and one could say it was almost inside out. Today, shipbuilders build a set of ribs, as the basis of the structure, and then put planks on the outside of these “ribs” as an outside inclusion of the inside of the ship. In ancient time’s, just the reverse was true. The outside planks were put together by either by overlapping and pinning the planks together, or by setting the planks edge to edge and either pinning them together with pegs, or the use of nails, or even sewing them together using materials available to use as threads. Then they reinforced the woolen shell with internal strengtheners.

We are made aware of this style of ancient shipbuilding by a description of such given to us by the famous poet Homer in his description of ship-building from the eighth century BC when the poet wrote. A later discovery of an ancient ship (Ulu Burun wreck) determined to be from the period approximantly 1350 BC, has revealed that ancient shipbuilding was using Homer’s description of construction at even the earlier date. In Homer’s poem, Odysseus, Homer’s long-suffering hero, is shipwrecked, and saving nothing from his ship, he is cast upon a lonely island. Fortunately, the island was the refuge of a goddess who lived alone, and she kept Odysseus with her for several years until ordered to release him. According to Homer, the hero was given some tools by the goddess; a double-bladed bronze axe, an adz, and a drill, and then he was shown a stand of timber which contained the following trees; aspen, alder, and pine. This was the material and tools that he was to use to build himself a craft in order to continue his journey. The description of his efforts follow:

“He felled twenty trees in all, lopped them clean, smoothed them carefully, and adzed them straight and square. . . .Then he bored them all and fitted them to each other. Then he hammered it [i.e. the craft] with pegs and joints. He laid out the bottom as wide as a good shipwright should for a beamy frieghter. Then he worked away setting up decks by fastening them to close-set frames. He finished by adding the long gunwales. He stepped a mast and yard and added a broad oar to steer with. He fenced the hull about with plenty of brush [sc,. on the floor]. The goddess brought him cloth for a sail, he fashioned that too, a fine one. He rigged braces, brails, and sheets, and putting the craft on rollers, hauled it down to the sea.”

Marine archaeologists have determined from the poets words and from the discoveries of the many sunken ships along the shores of the southwest coast of Asia-Minor that the above description is a now-clear version of shipbuilding as early as the fourteenth century BC.

>> Lionel Casson, "The Ancient Mariners," 2nd Ed., Princeton Univ. Press, 1991

Respectfully Submitted;
Marcus Audens
Marcus Minucius Audens

Re: Warships

Postby Marcus Livius Horatius » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:57 am


Great post! I am also interested in Roman naval history. I just ordered this book - (Republican Roman Warships 509-27 BC) https://www.amazon.com/Republican-Roman ... DXW6S9G2NA

I have heard good things. Have you read it?

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Re: Warships

Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:41 pm

Salve Marcus Livius Horatius;

Thank you for your kind words, I have before me the book; Raffaele D'Amato (Giuseppe Rava, Illustrator), "Imperial Roman Warships 27 BC - AD 193," New Vangard 230, Osprey Publishing, 2016. The Contents of the book are as follow:

>> Introduction;
>>The Roman Navy In the Early Empire;
>> Employment of the Fleet In Conquest Wars;
>> The Organization of the Imperial Roman Navy;
>> Imperial Roman Warships and Boats;
>> Fighting On the Sea: Roman Naval Tactics In the Early Empire;
>> Bibliography;
>> Index.

Other Warships In the Series beside the ones that you and I have mentioned, are:

>> "Viking Longship;"
>> "Ancient Greek Warship;"
>> "Warships of the Ancient World;"
>> "Renaissance War Galley, 1470 - 1590."

I think that there are a couple more. I am organizing my Osprey Library and I will look for any other titles that I either have or have reference to.

In answer to your question, No, I have not yet read the book you mention. The book that I have follows the book that you mention. It has eight full color plates, four of which are excellent diagrams of period warships, which are the real reason I bought the book (Drawing the ships)!

In my new book (Imperial Roman Warships, 27 BC - AD 193) I find the following description of the terrible effect of a Roman naval attack in the Battle between the fleet of Septimus Severus and Byzantine ships in AD 192 as described by Cassius Dio:

". . . .when they had laden their boats with more than even these boats could bear, set sail after waiting this time, also for a great storm . . . the Romans observing that their vessels were overheavy and weighted down almost to the water's edge, put out against them. So they fell upon the craft, which were scattered about as wind and wave carried them, and what followed was anything but a naval battle, for they simply battered the enemy's boats mercilessly, thrusting at many of them with their boat-hooks, ripping many open with their beaks, and even capsizing some by their mere onset. The people in the boats were unable to do anything . . . they would either be sunk by the force of the wind, to which they spread their sails to the full, or else would be overtaken by the enemy and destroyed."

As I get the naval part of my library organized, I shall be pleased to list the naval books that I have and describe them in some detail if you wish.

Respectfully Submitted;
Marcus Audens
Marcus Minucius Audens

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