Friday 19 August 2016


The workers put in some long days with their scissors and knives...
Latests prototype for the pentereis.
An aphract triereis in the foreground for scale, backed by various attempts with the latest and best at front.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Shipyards busy..Penteres in development

I have finally got round to a new model format for larger ships. A 5 is nearly ready and then larger 'polyremes' can use the same format.

5 points if you can name the book !

Here is what the inside should look like -- but maybe I skip that amount of detail for now..

Monday 15 August 2016


Something new down the slipway today. A model of the Marsala ship. A monokrotic bireme i.e. two men per oar, with a single row of oars.

This model is a fusion of the two ships excavated by Honor Frost in the 70's near  Marsala / Lilybæum in western Sicily. More HERE.

Previous post on the ship's demise HERE.
The reconstructed picture has shields on a rail and the up-turned 'duck-bill' ram. Frost had decided this was a warship connected to the Egadi Islands battle of  241bc which ended the First Punic War.

Later work  on the two ships cast doubt on the identification of the up-turned prow as a ram. The physics of shoving such a wierd structure into an enemy vessel do not make for efficient holing or escape of the rammer.

The ships from Trajans Column show similar upturned rams but it is thought these are the result of artistic licence rather than direct observation.

Ships with concavo-convex prows feature on Roman mosaics and in the famous 'Observer's Mosaic of Roman Ships' from Althiburus near Tunis. Especially the Akatos or Actuaria which is a small merchant galley.

The prow structure is a 'cutwater' which gives the vessel better sailing properties to breach waves  and it is also a useful modification to aid navigating areas with shallows and sand banks or to ride up onto beaches. The upturned prow rides up onto the soft material rather than digging-in. This was nicely demonstrated by Pedersen in 1996 when he likened it to the structure of Frisian fishing boats.

Pedersen tried some rigs with vertical prows and the duck-bill. It is obvious the upturn allows a ship to tide over a bank or at least not to dig in. Small coastal and riverine trading vessels would regularly  have run the risk of meeting such hazards.


The structure of the bow extension also argues against any military function because it is two skis rather than a massive timber and seems never to have been equipped with a bronze ram as we know now from the fanastic finds at the Egadi Islands warships must have had.

The ram? / cutwater from Bosporos is a similar form HERE

The Marsala ships are not, then , the first Carthaginian warships found but the are the first and best Carthaginian ships we have to date. The Carthaginian rams from Egadi are the first true remains of the carthaginian navy we have found but maybe my card models may get in a fight anyway . On the tabletop, that is.

Frost, H 1975 IJNA 4 (2) The Ram from Marsala
Pedersen RK 1996 Waterschip ZN42i,A Clench-Lapped Fishing Vessel from Flevoland, Nederland(Lelystad)
Averdung og Pedersen, Skyllis  2012 Heft 2,  The Marsala Punic Warships