Sunday, 11 December 2016

Wierd Etruscans Again

Further to my ramblings about odd Etruscan ships (and HERE) I have located another analogue of the 'galley versus freighter' scene from the' Aristothonos Vase' depicted by on Periklis Deligiannis' blog HERE.

This time it is a smaller version. On a little jug (oenochoe) by a painter known for using a palm tree motif - 'The Palm Tree Painter'. He worked in Etruria in 700-675BC.
Palm Tree Painter's oenochoe with ships: 700-675BC
The juxtaposition of a slim galley with a more massive freighter is here. Neither ship has crew nor oars. The limited space compared with the large area on the Aristothnos vase could explain this.

The 'freighter' has a wierd massive prow which is not identical to that of the Aristothonos  ship but is is strongly reminiscent. The painter meant to show something here but was maybe uncertain what exactly it was (a common feature of Italians depicting ships ?!).

In connection with trying to work out exactly what the uncertainty was, I found a comment in a paper about early Etruscan ships by Marco Bonino (SARDINIAN, VILLANOVIAN AND ETRUSCAN CRAFTS BETWEEN THE X AND THE Vlll CENTURIES BC FROM BRONZE AND CLAY MODELS in TropisIII, 1995) that supports my first impression that it is not a ram as such but a depiction of a cutwater - a building-out of the prow to make the ship sail better in waves.
Aristothonos prow and analogues from Bonino's paper.

Again, we have a case where the artist is not giving us a replica but an interpretation of a real ship. There are many small potttery ships, for example, from early historical times but to try and build ships from them would be a crazy idea.

Cutwater/forefoot : cutting water
A longship's cutwater or 'forefoot' will be a downward pointing curve because the ship's bow is lower on a lighter. slimmer ship designed to be powered by oars.

USS Constitution : A round hull like an ancient freighter with high cut-water

Whereas a round ship or freighter will be equipped with one that follows the bow up to split the waves. Building a downward curve would involve a complete rebuilding of the bow which, on a deep-hulled sailing ship for carrying a large load of cargo will be high and broad.

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