Shop ARTsales. com  for your fine art sales for fine art

...where art and
art-lovers meet ...

How we develope a print file for Giclee Printing
Studio's for artistis represented by
ARTists Represented at
ARTicles on topics of interest
ART History topics from 4000 BCE to the Present
A Directory of art resources on the Internet

Shop for prints at
Print Archive

Ark Prints


Nuptial Finery
Comstock Studio

Oleg Stavrowsky
Shop for Prints

Oleg Stavrowsky
Art Prints

Early America
Images of Early America
Shop for prints

Bill Tyree

Sukashi Tsuba

Article: Nubia
Land Of Gold


Ancient Ships: The Ships of Antiquity

War Ships of the Greeks

Greek Brireme from the period of the Trojan War 1250 BCE 

Model of Greek Bireme of the Trojan War 1250 B.C. from Hobby World Of Montreal

The Trojan War

Legend has it, that for ten long years the Greeks laid siege to the ancient city of Troy but could not take it. Then one night they sailed away leaving only a large Wooden Horse. Thinking that the Greeks had given up and returned home the Trojans took what they thought was a large idol into the city as war booty. That night ten brave men crawled out of the belly of the horse. They opened the gates of the city allowing the returning Greek soldiers to pour in and defeat the mighty city of Troy.

The Bireme was the warship used at the time of the Trojan wars. It had a broad bottom with a shallow draft. Biremes were propelled by two banks of oars and virtually skimmed over the seas. The bow had a portion that protruded out at water level. It is thought that this configuration was intended for ramming and piercing the enemy's ships hull.

This earlier configuration is close to the structure of the boats used by the Greeks to defeat the Persian fleet at Salamis in 480 BCE. It is clear from ancient Iconography that the evolution and changes to the configuration of these ships evolved over an extended period of time. The time between the Trojan and Persian wars being approximately 800 years.

Greek Bireme circa 500BCE

An important version of an ancient warship was the "bireme" equipped with an outrigger. The advantage was, that this way, a ship could have two rows of oars on each side. The upper row of oars-men was sitting on an upper bench more outside, so their oars wouldn't interfere with the oars of their fellow mates sitting below. A "bireme" could be equipped with as many as a hundred oars-men, fifty on each side of the ship.

A Greek Ship Trireme full scale
reconstruction circa 400-BCE in Dry Dock

The next step in the evolution of Greek war ships was the creation of the "trireme" with three rows of oars-men on each side of the ship (seethe modern recreation above). The "trireme" was the standard warship of most Greek city-states. While a "trireme" still had a quite narrow hull, the outrigger had to be wider than on a "bireme". Most Greek "triremes" had a partial fighting-deck, while the later Roman version of this warship-type, had a full deck. The ship shown is a recreation made by the Trireme Trust.

Trireme Model

The ultimate test of these ships came for the Greeks during the Persian Wars at the battle of Salamis against the Persian Fleet. See the Battle of Salamis. The victory of the Greeks in this battle paved the way for the flowering of the Greek culture during the next fifty years. 

This vase is a stunning example of where iconography tells us as much or more than words, the illustration on the Dinos shows a fleet of war ships underway on an ocean voyage. For anyone that has been at sea the imagination is all you need to be there with the crew of the ship . The art represents a moment with the Greek navy frozen in time. This art is a stunning window to the past. Artistically this black-figure dinos is notable for its austere decoration. The shining black lacquer and the ornament around the neck emphasizes the chiseled form of the vessel. On the inner surface of the neck are five oar ed ships plowing through the rough sea. The artist carefully depicted the silhouettes of the ships, the prows in the form of dolphins' heads, and swans' heads on the stern, sail, rope and oars. In depicting the crew the artist paid particular attention only to the helmsmen, while the heads of oarsmen are represented as black circles, which can be easily taken for mere ornament.

A Greek Warship of Trireme Class

Shown in the picture is Olympias , a reconstruction of an Athenian Trireme of the 5th and 4th centuries BC, built in Greece to a design worked out by John Coates, a naval architect, taking into consideration ancient evidence researched by John Morrison, former President of Wolfson College, Cambridge. Olympias was commissioned into the Hellenic Navy in 1987.

The trireme had three banks of rowers and sail to power the ship. this design came into use in the sixth century BCE.

Previous | Next | Table Of Contents


Site map | Shop |Top of Page | Legal | Privacy | Contact Us | Disclaimer   
©2003-2010, All Rights Reserved