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Encyclopedia > Trireme
A Greek trireme.
A Greek trireme.

Trireme (Greek Τριήρεις pl. (Τριήρης sing.)) refers to a class of warships used by the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean, especially the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks and Romans. In English, no differentiation is made between the Greek trieres and the Latin triremes. This is sometimes a source of confusion, as in other languages these terms refer to different styles of ships. Greek Trireme Source: US Military: This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Greek Trireme Source: US Military: This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ... Phoenicia was an ancient civilization in the north of ancient Canaan, with its heartland along the coastal plain of what is now Lebanon and Syria. ... The Temple to Athena, the Parthenon Ancient Greece is a period in Greek history that lasted for around three thousand years. ... Area under Roman control  Roman Republic  Roman Empire  Western Empire  Eastern Empire Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew from a city-state founded on the Italian Peninsula circa the 9th century BC to a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. ...


The early type had three rows of oars on each side, manned with one man per oar. They originated with the Phoenicians and are best known from the fleets of Ancient Greece. The early trireme was a development of the pentekonter, an ancient warship with a single row of 25 oars on each side. The trireme's staggered seating permitted three benches per vertical section with an oarsmen on each. The outrigger above the gunwale, projecting laterally beyond it, kept the third row of oars on deck out of the way of the first two under deck. Early triremes were the dominant warship in the Mediterranean from the 7th to the 4th century BC. Phoenician sarcophagus found in Cadiz, Spain; now in Archaeological Museum of Cádiz. ... Ancient Greece is the term used to describe the Greek-speaking world in ancient times. ... In a canoe or bangca, an outrigger is a thin, long, solid, hull used to stabilise an inherently unstable main hull. ... The gunwale, pronounced gunnel to rhyme with tunnel, is a nautical term describing the top edge of the side of a boat. ... Diagrams of first and third rate warships, England, 1728 Cyclopaedia. ... The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 7th century BC started on January 1, 700 BC and ended on December 31, 601 BC. // Overview Events Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria who created the the first systematically collected library at Nineveh A 16th century depiction of the Hanging Gardens of... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 4th century BC started on January 1, 400 BC and ended on December 31, 301 BC. // Overview Events Bust of Alexander the Great in the British Museum. ...


The heavily armored Greek/Phoenician trireme was the mainstay of most navies during the times of quinquiremes/penteres. Like these, all rowers were now protected under deck and battle was mainly fought by marines. A different system of classification was also used, referring to the men per vertical section, so that they did not necessarily have three rows of oars any more. A type of Roman ship, larger than a trireme. ...


Light Roman triremes supplanted the liburnians in the late Roman navy. They were like the early triremes a light type of warship, but with 150 rowers under deck instead of 170, with little armor, but significantly more marines and less structural support for ramming. Later it developed into the heavier dromon. A liburnian was a galley, a warship propelled by oars. ... The Roman Navy (Latin: Classis) operated between the First Punic war and the end of the Western Roman Empire. ... A Byzantine fresco showing a dromon Byzantine dromon. ...

Contents

Origin

Sam was here According to Thucydides, the trireme was introduced by Ameinocles of Corinth in the late 8th century BC. However, we also know that triremes were not truly effectively used in naval combat until about 525 BC, when according to Herodotus, the ruler Polycrates of Samos was able to contribute 40 triremes to a joint invasion of Egypt. To suppose that no improvements were made to the design of the trireme — as the 40 ships contributed by Polycrates were still relatively primitive — when, in ten years in the early 5th century BC the Athenians were able to make sufficient improvements to the design to ensure their naval ascendancy for 60 years, is something of a stretch of the imagination. Some historians argue, therefore, that the introduction of the trireme did not take place until during the reign of Polycrates of Samos, as he was known to have a fleet of pentekonters at the beginning of his rule, and yet had switched to triremes by 525 BC. This would make the revolution of the design by the Athenians, then, much more plausible. Bust of Thucydides residing in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. ... Corinth, or Korinth (Greek: Κόρινθος, Kórinthos; see also List of traditional Greek place names) is a Greek city-state, on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) Ruins of the training grounds at Olympia, Greece. ... Centuries: 7th century BC - 6th century BC - 5th century BC Decades: 570s BC - 560s BC - 550s BC - 540s BC - 530s BC - 520s BC - 510s BC - 500s BC - 490s BC - 480s BC - 470s BC Events 529 BC - Cambyses II succeeds his father Cyrus as ruler of Persia. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For the bishop, see Polycrates of Ephesus. ... Samos (Greek Σάμος) is a Greek island in the Eastern Aegean Sea, located between the island of Chios to the North and the archipelagic complex of the Dodecanese islands to the South and in particular the island of Patmos and off the coast of Turkey, on what was formely known as... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 5th century BC started on January 1, 500 BC and ended on December 31, 401 BC. // The Parthenon of Athens seen from the hill of the Pnyx to the west. ... Athens (Greek: Αθήνα - Athína) is the largest city and capital of Greece, located in the Attica periphery of central Greece. ...


Add to this the uncertainty over the terminology used in the ancient texts - essentially, there is no guarantee that when the ancient writers used the term "trieres" that they were, in fact, referring to the trireme, and not to just any "warship", and the introduction in the late 8th century BC becomes quite questionable. (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) Ruins of the training grounds at Olympia, Greece. ...


However, there are some reinforcements for the suggestion of the earlier introduction. Herodotus mentions that the Egyptian pharaoh Necho (610595 BC) built triremes on the Nile, for service in the Mediterranean, and in the Red Sea for service in the Indian Ocean. That Pharaoh had close ties with Greece, and especially with Corinth, where it is likely — if the Corinthians had indeed introduced the ship in the late 8th century BC — he acquired the design. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Nekau II (also known as Necho II) was a king of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt (610 - 595 BC), and the son of Psammetichus I. He played a significant role in the histories of Assyrian Empire, Babylonia and Kingdom of Judah. ... Centuries: 8th century BC - 7th century BC - 6th century BC Decades: 660s BC 650s BC 640s BC 630s BC 620s BC - 610s BC - 600s BC 590s BC 580s BC 570s BC 560s BC Events and Trends 619 BC - Alyattes becomes king of Lydia 619 BC _ Death of Zhou xiang... Centuries: 7th century BC - 6th century BC - 5th century BC Decades: 640s BC 630s BC 620s BC 610s BC 600s BC - 590s BC - 580s BC 570s BC 560s BC 550s BC 540s BC Events and Trends 598 BC - Jehoaichin succeeds Jehoiakim as King of Judah 598 BC - Babylonians capture Jerusalem... The Nile (Arabic: , transliteration: , Ancient Egyptian iteru, Coptic piaro or phiaro) is a major north-flowing river in Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. ... Location of the Red Sea The Red Sea is an inlet of the Indian Ocean between Africa and Asia. ... Temple of Apollo at Corinth Corinth, or Korinth (Κόρινθος) is a Greek city, on the Isthmus of Corinth, the original isthmus, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) Ruins of the training grounds at Olympia, Greece. ...


Additionally, there is a fragment of Attic pottery, dated to between 735 and 710 BC, which seems to show a ship with three levels of oarsmen, although the third level is unmanned in the illustration. It is thought that the image represents an early example, or even a prototype, of a trireme, and the unmanned third level is explained, by proponents of the earlier introduction theory, as being quite natural, since the illustration is part of a relief depicting an evacuation, and oarsmen would surely have been in short supply. This article is about Attica in Greece. ... Unfired green ware pottery on a traditional drying rack at Conner Prairie living history museum. ...


It is still not certain which of the two theories is true, and much research is still being done into the questions which surround the introduction of this warship


Tactics

Fleets of triremes employed a variety of tactics. The periplous (Gk., "sailing around") involved outflanking or encircling the enemy so as to attack them in the vulnerable rear; the diekplous (Gk., "Sailing out through") involved a concentrated charge so as to break a hole in the enemy line, allowing galleys to break through and attack the line from behind; and the kuklos (Gk., "circle") was a defensive circle employed against these tactics. In all of these maneuvers, the ability to accelerate faster, row faster, and turn more sharply than one's enemy was very important. Note: This article contains special characters. ...


The early 5th century BC saw a conflict between the cities of Greece and the expansionist Persian Empire under Darius and Xerxes, who hired ships from their Phoenician cities. Since these early craft were not heavily armored and did not carry a large compliment of marines the main tactic used by ancient navies was to quickly ram enemy ships with the prow of the vessel with the intention of either sinking the enemy ship, or breaking its oars, thus immobilizing it. (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 5th century BC started on January 1, 500 BC and ended on December 31, 401 BC. // The Parthenon of Athens seen from the hill of the Pnyx to the west. ... It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles. ... The Persian Empire was a series of historical empires that ruled over the Iranian plateau, the old Persian homeland, and beyond in Western Asia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. ... Darius I of Persia Darius the Great (ca. ... Xerxes the Great (Persian: خشایارشا, Khšāyāršā, Old Persian: Xšayāršā) was a Persian Emperor (Shahanshah) (reigned 485–465 BCE) of the Achaemenid Dynasty. ...


The Greeks defeated the first invasion force at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, but realized that pursuing land battles against the more numerous Persians could not hope to win in the long term. When news came that Xerxes was amassing an enormous invasion force in Asia Minor, the Greek cities expanded their navies: in 482 BC the Athenian statesman Themistocles realized that if Greece was to survive another Persian invasion then it must take control of the Aegean . Themistocles used his political skills and influence, along with the state silver mines, he started a program of the construction of 200 triremes. The project must have been very successful, as 150 Athenian triremes were reported to have seen action in the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC at which Xerxes' second invasion fleet was defeated. They were also used in the famous Battle of Thermopylae, Themistocles himself commandeered the fleet that he built and was incredibly able to fight and hold off the Persian navy (which used similar triremes) for two days against 6:1 odds. Combatants Athens and Plataea Persia Commanders Miltiades Callimachus† Darius I of Persia Datis†? Artaphernes Strength 10,000 Athenians 1,000 Plataeans 20,000-60,000 by modern estimates 1 Casualties 192 Athenians dead 11 Plateans dead 6,400 dead 7 ships captured 1 Ancient sources give numbers ranging from 200... Centuries: 6th century BC - 5th century BC - 4th century BC Decades: 540s BC 530s BC 520s BC 510s BC 500s BC - 490s BC - 480s BC 470s BC 460s BC 450s BC 440s BC Years: 495 BC 494 BC 493 BC 492 BC 491 BC - 490 BC - 489 BC 488 BC... Centuries: 6th century BC - 5th century BC - 4th century BC Decades: 530s BC 520s BC 510s BC 500s BC 490s BC - 480s BC - 470s BC 460s BC 450s BC 440s BC 430s BC Years: 487 BC 486 BC 485 BC 484 BC 483 BC _ 482 BC _ 481 BC... This article cites its sources but does not provide page references. ... Combatants Greek city-states Persia Halicarnassus Commanders Eurybiades of Sparta Themistocles of Athens Adeimantus of Corinth Aristides of Athens Xerxes I of Persia Ariamenes † Artemisia Strength 366-380 ships 1 1000 - 1207 ships [1]2 Casualties 40 ships 200 ships 1 Herodotus gives 378 of the alliance, but the numbers... Events King Xerxes I of Persia sets out to conquer Greece. ... Combatants Greek-city states Persian Empire Commanders Leonidas I † Xerxes I the Great of Persia Strength 300 Spartans 700 Thespians 6,000 other Greek allies2 60,000-2,000,000 (estimates vary)1 Casualties 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians; 1,400 Greek allies in total. ...


Triremes fought in the naval battles of the Peloponnesian War, including the Battle of Aegospotami, which sealed the defeat of the Athenian Empire by Sparta and its allies. Combatants Delian League led by Athens Peloponnesian League led by Sparta Commanders Pericles, Cleon, Nicias, Alcibiades Archidamus II, Brasidas, Lysander The Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) was an Ancient Greek military conflict, fought between Athens and their empire and the Peloponnesian League, led by Sparta. ... Combatants Sparta Athens Commanders Lysander 6 generals Strength Unknown 170 ships Casualties Minimal 160 Ships, Thousands of sailors The naval Battle of Aegospotami took place in 404 BC and was the last major battle of the Peloponnesian War. ... The Delian League was an association of Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. As it was led by Athens, it is sometimes pejoratively referred to as the Athenian Empire. ... Sparta (Doric: Spártā, Attic: Spártē) is a city in southern Greece. ...


Changes of engagement and construction

A Roman trireme on African mosaic.
A Roman trireme on African mosaic.

During the Hellenistic period, the light trireme was supplanted by larger warships in dominant navies, especially the pentere/quinquereme. The maximum to coordinate effectively were three oars atop. So the numbers did not refer to the banks of oars anymore (for biremes, triremes and quinquiremes), but to the number of rowers per vertical section, with often multiple men on an oar. The reasons for this development were armoring bows of warships against ramming attacks which again required heavier ships for successful attack. Such increased the need for rowers per ship and either made it possible to use less trained personnel for moving these new ships to the minimum impact speed of 10 knots. This change was accompanied by an increased reliance on tactics like boarding, missile skirmishes and using warships as platforms for artillery. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2272x1704, 1625 KB)[edit] Summary author Maciej Szczepańczyk-user Mathiasrex roman mosaic from II cent. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2272x1704, 1625 KB)[edit] Summary author Maciej Szczepańczyk-user Mathiasrex roman mosaic from II cent. ... The Hellenistic period (4th - 1st c. ... A quinquireme was a galley, a warship propelled by oars, developed from the earlier trireme. ... Artillery with Gabion fortification Cannons on display at Fort Point Continental Artillery crew from the American Revolution Firing of an 18-pound gun, Louis-Philippe Crepin, (1772 – 1851) A forge-welded Iron Cannon in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. ...


Triremes continued to be the mainstay of all smaller navies. While the Greeks did develop the quinquireme, the navies of Greek homeland and colonies could only afford triremes. It was used by the Diadochi Empires and sea powers like Syracuse, Carthage and later Rome. The difference to Athenian ships was, that they were armored against ramming and carried significantly more marines. Lightened versions of the trireme and smaller vessels were often used as auxiliaries, and performed quite effectively against the heavier ships, thanks to their greater maneuverability. With the rise of Rome the biggest fleet of quinquiremes temporarily ruled the Mediterranean, but during the civil wars after Caesar's death the fleet was on the wrong side and a new warfare with light liburnians was developed. By Imperial times the fleet was relatively small and had mostly political influence, controlling the grain supply and fighting pirates, who usually employed light biremes and liburnians. But instead of the successful liburnians of the civil war, it was again centered around light triremes, but still with many marines. Out of this type of ship the dromon developed. A type of Roman ship, larger than a trireme. ... In general Diadochi (in Greek Διάδοχοι, transcripted Diadochoi) means successors, such that the neoplatonic refounders of Platos Academy in Late Antiquity referred to themselves as diadochi (of Plato). ... Syracuse (Italian Siracusa, Sicilian Sarausa, Greek , Latin Syracusae) is an Italian city on the eastern coast of Sicily and the capital of the province of Syracuse. ... Carthage (Greek: , from the Phoenician Kart-hadasht meaning new town, Arabic: ‎, Latin: ) refers both to an ancient city in North Africa located in modern day Tunis and to the civilization that developed within the citys sphere of influence. ... Nickname: The Eternal City Motto: SPQR: Senatus PopulusQue Romanus Location of the city of Rome (yellow) within the Province of Rome (red) and region of Lazio (grey) Coordinates: Region Lazio Province Province of Rome Founded 21 April 753 BC  - Mayor Walter Veltroni Area    - City 1285 km²  (580 sq mi)  - Urban... Nickname: The Eternal City Motto: SPQR: Senatus PopulusQue Romanus Location of the city of Rome (yellow) within the Province of Rome (red) and region of Lazio (grey) Coordinates: Region Lazio Province Province of Rome Founded 21 April 753 BC  - Mayor Walter Veltroni Area    - City 1285 km²  (580 sq mi)  - Urban... A type of Roman ship, larger than a trireme. ... The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ... A liburnian was a galley, a warship propelled by oars. ... A Byzantine fresco showing a dromon Byzantine dromon. ...


Reconstruction

In 1985–1987 a shipbuilder in Piraeus, financed by Frank Welsh (a Suffolk banker, writer and trireme enthusiast), advised by historian J. S. Morrison and naval architect John F. Coates - who with Welsh founded the Trireme Trust that initiated and managed the project, and informed by evidence from underwater archaeology, built a reconstructed Athenian trireme, Olympias. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1152x864, 137 KB)Olympias ancient greek trireme reconstruction, from Hellenic Navy. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1152x864, 137 KB)Olympias ancient greek trireme reconstruction, from Hellenic Navy. ... Olympias is a reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme. ... It has been suggested that Kaminia (Piraeus), Greece be merged into this article or section. ... John (Sinclair) Morrison, or JS Morrison as he was better known as an author, was a British classicist whose work led to the reconstruction of an Athenian Trireme, an ancient oared warship. ... Olympias is a reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme. ...


Crewed by 170 volunteer oarsmen and oarswomen, Olympias in 1988 achieved 9 knots (17 km/h). These results, achieved with inexperienced crew, suggest that the ancient writers were not exaggerating about straight-line performance. In addition, Olympias was able to execute a 180-degree turn in one minute and in an arc no wider than two and one half (2.5) ship-lengths. Additional sea trials took place in 1987, 1990, 1992 and 1994. In 2004 Olympias was used ceremonially to transport the Olympic Flame from the port of Keratsini to the main port of Piraeus as the Olympic Torch Relay entered its final stages in the runup to the 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Olympic Flame at the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics The Olympic Flame, Olympic Fire, Olympic Torch, Olympic Light, Olympic Eye, and Olympic Sun is a symbol of the Olympic Games. ... It has been suggested that Kaminia (Piraeus), Greece be merged into this article or section. ... The 2004 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony was held on August 13. ...


The builders of the reconstruction project considered that it effectively proved conclusively what had previously been in doubt, that Athenian triremes were arranged with the crew positioned in a staggered arrangement on three levels with one person per oar. This would have made optimum use of the available internal dimensions. However since modern humans are on average approximately 6 cm (2 inches) taller than Ancient Greeks (and the same relative dimensions can be presumed for oarsmen and other athletes), the construction of a craft which followed the precise dimensions of the ancient vessel led to cramped rowing conditions and consequent restrictions on the modern crew's ability to propel the vessel with full efficiency, which perhaps explains why the ancient speed records stand unbroken.


References

  • Lionel Casson, The Ancient Mariners, 2nd edition, Princeton University Press, 1991, ISBN 0-691-01477-9.
  • John F. Coates, The trireme sails again, Scientific American, 261(4):68–75, April 1989.
  • Vernon Foley and Werner Soedel, Ancient oared warships, Scientific American, 244(4):116–129, April 1981.
  • Fik Meijer, A History of Seafaring in the Classical World, Croom and Helm, 1986.
  • J. S. Morrison, Greek naval tactics in the 5th century BC, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploration, 3(1):21–26, 1974.
  • J. S. Morrison and John F. Coates, Athenian Trireme: the History and Reconstruction of an Ancient Greek Warship, Cambridge University Press, 1986.
  • J. S. Morrison and R. T. Williams, Greek Oared Ships: 900–322 BC, Cambridge University Press, 1968.
    Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
    Trireme

    Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... Wikimedia Commons logo by Reid Beels The Wikimedia Commons (also called Commons or Wikicommons) is a repository of free content images, sound and other multimedia files. ...

    External links

    • Hellenic Navy's (Greek Navy) web page for Olympias trireme reconstruction
    • Michael Lahanas's page
    • E. J. de Meester's page
    • For merchant ships see


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