Ships and boats

And of course ships! A lot of ships, because Greece has a lot of seasides! The total length of Greek coast is almost 13.676 km. It is almost half the total length of African coast! The earth tectonic plates of Asia and Africa are moving towards Europe and the connection point is Greece, so a lot of earthquakes gave the country many corners in geographical shapes. Greek ship Greeks specialized in making small but fast and easy to use boats. They had small ports so they had to use small ships! But they could travel at least from the Greek islands to Cyprus to carry copper and bronze since 3000 B.C.
The most famous ship was the trireme (first constructed by Corinthians close to 700 B.C.). It was almost 40 metres long and required almost 150 men power to pull the oars and almost 50 more for other needs.

Homer in the Heliad described the first known organized navy, where 1186 ships floated to Troy. Homer describes a lot of details of these ships.

Some indications show that Greek ships had gone as far as England to buy metals that were hard to find in Greece.

In Spain, close to Gibraltar, there is a tower believed to have been built by Hercules. As the myth tells, there were two such towers to guide the ships to the passage of Gibraltar. This automatically means that some ships were daring to try the Atlantic Ocean!

Another source says that in Chile there are some people with roots to Ancient Sparta! A local professor collects a lot of amazing information about it!

The first war ships were armed with catapults! The tyrant of Syracuse Dionisios The Senior had ordered the improvement of the catapults that were available until then and managed to achieve superiority in the Mediterranean Sea in his period. He had constructed specially navigated ships that specialized in carrying catapults as war ships!

Today Greeks are following the traditions and have many more ships than someone would expect, considering the size of Greece. Unfortunately the Greek ship owners don't prefer Greek sailors any more. In 1980 we had 120.000 native sailors, now (1997) only 25.000.

Thera's Ship

In the big mural of Room 5 of Western Residence in the Cape of Theras, it is an entire fleet of boats that is dated at 1.500 b.c. These boats has caused the interest of experts of many sectors from the fact that they present a high degree of naval perfection, which in the next centuries was lost. It was with the manufacture of trireme that recover the naval tradition. It is esteemated that had length 30 metres, crew 50 - 60 men, 42 of whom were oarsmans (21 from each side), and a web with big square sail. The way of rowing and the extensive decorations in the prow and the stern of ship was remarkable.


The polemic ships "Samaines" were manufactured in Samos by the tyrant of the island Polykrati around the 520 - 500 b.c. The had the form double Pedikodoro with two rows of 25 oars per side, total 100 oars. They had powerful piston that led to the form of boar. In contrast with other known polemic boats, they had bigger width, which made it very fast merchant ships, and second characteristic is that they had continuous deck which was different from other ships. It is said that there two types of this boats: the one had 25 oars in each side (Pedikodoros) and the other allocated 25 x 2 rows oars per side(double Pedikodoro).


This evolved ship belongs in the team of boats of pre-Classic period that used oars. From all this boats it was distinguished Triadakodoros and Pedikodoros, which remained active for a period of 1.000 years, in parallel use to the trireme. First report of the Pedikodoros was made by Homer saying that with this boats, Achilles and the Fjlokti'tis transfer their army in the Helion. The researches for this boat have led to this following characteristics: length of 33 m., width of 4,80 m., draught 0,60 - 0,80 m., web's height 11,75 m, area 130 t.m., 2 lines oarsman ( 25 in the each side), length of oar 5 m. Personnel: 50 oarsman, plus 10 seamen.


Indubitably, the trireme was the most known and most popular boat of Greek antiquity, that dominated in Eastern Mediterranean for more than 1.000 years. It was first built in Corinthus (or in Samos) between the 650 - 610 b.c. from the Corinthian Ameinocli, but shortly became the emblem of Athenian Democracy, and contributed in the consolidation of the Athenian sea-power. This boats smashed in the Salamine the Phoenix and their Persians, in Semptember of 480 b.c., and modified the Mediterranean in "Greek Sea". The oarsman were all free citizens something that was happening for all the Greek boats.
The decade of 1980 took place big scientific preparation and finally Navy, with collaboration WITH Britiush historians and shipbuilders, started the reconstruction of ship in the ship yard of brothers Tzakakoy in Perama. This attempt, which was called the bigger experiment of naval technology, had as a result the manufacture of trireme of "Olympia" in the 1987. "Olympja" is a copy of the final - evolutionary - form of ancient trireme, as we know via the philological sources of the end of 5th century b.c. . Its characteristics are: length of 37 m., width of 5,20 m., draught 1,50 m., and displacement 70000kg. Total crew of 210 - 216 men, from that the 170 were oarsman (85 in each side') separated in three rows: 31 in upper side, 27 in the middle and 27 down. Maximum speed 9 - 12 miles per hour. The administration of boat was made by the trireme captain with the help of 5 officers and 4 non-commissioneds officer. For sailing, the trireme brought a main web with huge square sail and smaller to the prow, the skiff with smaller sail. The steer was made with two wheels with the form of wide oars, that were in each side of stern. Main weapon of this flexible and most rapid polemic ship was the beak of the prow, strengthened with powerful metal clothing. It had also had various arms, in which were later added catapultes.


There have been rescued the names of many types of auxiliary boats from which were used by Alexandros the Great in his naval campaigns. Olkas is the most famous type of small cargo-boat this period, known from the reconstruction of the boat "Kyrenia II" which constitutes also the characteristic lorry of 4th b.c. century.

Kyrenia Ship

The known boat of "Kyrenia" took its name from the shipwreck of an ancient olka in the gulf of Kyrineia in Cyprus. The shipwreck was found by the Andrea Karioloy and the submarine excavation was held by a team of archaelogists of the University of Pennsylvania with leader Michael Katsef. The excavation lasted for five years and was rescued the 60% of the shipwreck, which is something unique.
"Kyrenia", characteristic type of cargo-boat of the 4th b.c. century, was in use in interval 389 - 280 b.c. It had length of 14 m., weight 14 tons and had been manufactured with the method "first the cover". When it sunk it transported 400 amphora from Chios, Samos and Rhodes, that contained wine and oil, 29 burrstones from Nisiro and almonds. The rescue of so much big department of the ship gave the oppurtunity for his faith reconstruction, not only in form of effigy but also in proportion 1:1.
This ship, known as "Kyrenia II", is an important undertaking experimental archeology was made by the Greek Institute of Protection of Naval Traditiom, with chairman Xari Gala. The reconstruction followed precisely the ancient process, and ware used same materials with those of the shipwreck. The results were great. The ship reborn and made its maiden voyage, 1.300 naval miles, from Piraeus to the Pafos of Cyprus and from there to marina of Zeas. Since then "Kyrenia II" has made a lot of travels, reaching also Japan and USA, spreading with this way the naval technology of ancient Greeks and re-constructive ability of the modern Greeks.

Byzantine Dromon

The Navy of Byzantium had the name "Basilikon Ploimon" and its jewels was Dromon, a heavy polemic ship that was the pre-eminently ship for the defence of Capital. There were and "Thematika Ploimia" that were strengthened with corvettes of lighter form and construction. The corvettes of Basilikon Ploimon were provided with special machines for the launch of "liquid fire" to the enemies. The precocious form of corvette comes from Greek dires while the corvettes of later period constitute the ancestors of medieval galley and were considered evolved type. They allocated 100 oars (50 per side) three webs with square and triangular sails, complete deck and lifting manufactures, in prow and stern, strengthened with pipes of "liquid fire" and catapultes. There isn't still complete study of this ship and its development.

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