Friday, 16 April 2021

THEMISTOCLEAN TRIEREIS

 My latest models have been sent down the slipways.

1/1000 scale 

They are triereis of the Salamis period. The type which would have been constructed under Themistocles' scheme to use the Laurion silver strike for a war-galley fleet instead of frittering it away on a cash share-out.



These triereis are not closed-in. The deck joins the forecastle and the poop but does not cover the oarsmen.

Such ships had canvas sun-shades which could be rigged to protect the working oarsmen and hide screens which could be erected to protect them from missiles in battle.


Fully decked triereis had more space for deck fighters and the oarsmen could be fully protected by erecting hide side-screens down the length of the ship.

Side-screens below a light deck(left) or along the gunwale(right)

After Salamis - maybe because of experience in close fighting with the Persian fleet that was heavily manned with 30 or 40 deck fighters per ship as opposed to the dozen or so on Athenian ships - the Athenian fleet was retro-fitted with full decks. These ships were employed by Kimon to hammer the Persian fleet in Ionia and smash them at the sea-land battle at the mouth of the River Eurymedon c. 469BC.

'Excuse me, is this the Battle of The Eurymedon?'
 'Actually we are in a generic Edwardian print but if it helps your focus let's call it that name you said'

As usual in a simple democracy the populace tired of Kimon and he was banished to exile. Though he did return later and fought again at sea. Amazingly, an ostrakon with his name (Kimon son of Miltiades - yes THE Miltiades) has been found at Athens, a real link with historical events. (can we have a decked trireres next please? Ed.)


A fully-decked trieres was slower than an undecked one but the advantages must have been clear. As far as we know all subsequent triereis had a continuous deck. 

See the red-head in rowing position 'port thranite number 7' ?)

However, a solid deck for fighting on is not the same as a light deck which protects against the sun and weather. It was the tetreres which introduced this as a major structural feature. But we actually have no evidence for the exact nature of a fully decked trieres in the Classical or Hellenistic periods.


Hordes of tiny heads, each one individually sculpted with the portrait of an ancient Athenian



But a decked ship is NOT the same as a cataphract ship. Cataphracts have a permanently-mounted system of wooden screening to protect the interior and the oarsmen. Kimon's triereis were not cataphracts, neither were the Persian-Phoenician vessels. This came later...
'We're riding along on the crest of a polyester velveteen-nervøs velour wave and the sun ..etc.' 


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