Friday, 11 November 2016

Still More Fish in the Barrel!

Let us now turn to Plate B of Osprey's New Vanguard 225. I will keep it as short as possible.
Plate B
Ship 1. A 'triremis' (sic)

There is a bolt-shooter mounted in front of the corvus. How is it lowered past this ?

The corvus itself is wrongly drawn - Polybius states it is secured on the pole by a slot in the plank floor of the bridge. Here it stands on its end.

There is no evidence for a corvus being mounted on a trieres - which is what this ship purports to be. trieres were so sensitive in their balance that a single man moving across the deck could disturb the stroke of the thalamian oarsmen. The weight of the corvus in raised position would give a lot of wind resistance and potential for overbalancing on this light ship.

The steering oar - pedalium - is not hydrodynamic. it has a thick leading edge and a strong rib down the middle.

The caption text is poor. It uses the Italian words for the rowers - not the latin nor relevant Anglicisation. 'zigiti' instead of zygians or zygitoi.' Talamiti' instead of thalamians or thalamoi. Traniti is replaced later in the caption by' Thranite'. This is a sign of poor or no proof-reading.

The term 'orders' is used for the different levels of oars. Why ? Maybe a mistranslation from the Latin ordo/ordines for ranks. Ranks of rowers ? Some writers do  use 'files' of rowers.

The parexeiresia is confused with the oarbox. The oarbox replaced the parexeiresia. The upper level of oars rested over a rail projected out from the ship's side - this is the parexeiresia. In the third century BC it was replaced by a fixed closed box built along the ship side and the oars were worked through ports in this.

A ventilation course is mentioned in the caption but completely absent in the illustration.

The most worrying error in the caption are  the references to oars.

It is stated that the ship has 170 oars. Why, then, is the ship drawn with 178 oars ? Why ?

Oar lengths are given as
traniti - 12 ft in length
zigiti - 'managed rows of about 10ft.'
talamiti - 'formed the lower row with oars 6ft long'.

Oars on a radius can be same length
Read carefully. I shall say this only once. The key breakthrough in working out how a trieres is constructed and rowed was the realisation that the oarsmen should be arrranged on a radius so that the oars were all the same length ! Read any paper or book about Olympias and you cannot avoid this fact.

Lower man with a 1,8m oar ?
Oh, yes and one could also think for a moment as to how useful an oar 6ft (1,8m) could be to a rower who is positioned so as to require at least 4,66m of oar to have an effect .

To finish, it is stated that the ship - a trieres - carries 120 soldiers. The most a trieres is recorded as carrying is 40 soldiers plus the deck crew. Confused with a Five ?

 Ship 2. A 'Quadriremes'(sic)

 Now, is this from Alba Fucentia - as stands on a previous photo of the graffito or Alba Lucentia ? The author  cannot make his mind up. Thanks, Osprey editorial staff.

This ship is very special. This ship defies all research of the last thirty years to resurrect a nineteenth century idea about ancient  ship construction. This ship is a 'Four', that is a tetreres or quadrireme.

Much ink and almost blood has been spilled to determine that the '4' in the name of this ship does NOT mean it had four banks of oars. On the contrary, a tetreres should have TWO banks of oars, each double-manned. How thi stype of ship can be illustrated this way in 2015 is difficult to understand. Unless the closely collaborating author and illustrator do not have a clue what they are doing and there is no editorial control.

There is also confusion here either in language or understanding, when a parados is referred-to as a 'guard-rail'. The parados is a narrow ledge outside the guard-rail where men can stand.

Again. something appears in the caption, but not the illustration - poor collaboration again. The latticed ventilation course is referenced but not drawn in the picture.

The last sentence is a pointer to the language difficulties of producing a book in a second language. BUT IT IS PRECISELY HERE THAT THE EDITORIAL STAFF SHOULD HELP !

'The upper oars (zygian) would emerge from the hull over the topwale while the oarports would serve the Thalamian(sic) oars.'

The very fact that the ship is drawn with FOUR oar rows destroys the terminology of thranian-zygian-thalamian.  In any case the sentence is confused and cannot be elucidated by looking at the picture. The upper oars would normally be termed thranite.

In fact, the top two rows of oars seem to come out of holes in the top of an oarbox ! ? Do they bend down to the water over the edge of the oarbox ?

 'I know nothing about the 'oars'

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