Author Topic: Ram Sizes at Actium  (Read 16892 times)

Justin Swanton

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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2019, 06:29:32 AM »
Dupuy de Lome had some personal speculation about ancient warships and fail,
Olympia work, with some imperfections but work.
The base for working is this real ship, not surmises.
Science is not an opinion,
"Hic Rodus ,hic salta"

All the answers we need are in this relief,

Explain the answers. Is that a bireme?

Erpingham

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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2019, 09:45:22 AM »

Explain the answers. Is that a bireme?

It is probably safer not to use bireme in this context, but a two-tiered vessel.  Most people see this as a larger warship (note the tower) and it appears to be decked.  Note the outrigger the marines are standing on, with its decorative patterns.  Some interpet this as another tier of oars, with the oars withdrawn leaving only blades visible.
  • Anthony Clipsom

Patrick Waterson

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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2019, 11:02:30 AM »
It is probably safer not to use bireme in this context, but a two-tiered vessel.  Most people see this as a larger warship (note the tower) and it appears to be decked.

Astutely observed. It is also worth noting that one tier seemingly contains two banks of oars. The other gives the impression of being (as Anthony describes):

Quote
Some interpet this as another tier of oars, with the oars withdrawn leaving only blades visible.

Which would leave the question of whether it is meant to represent a trireme or even a quadrireme.  I suspect it may be a quadrireme because the two lower tiers are not separated, which suggests two upper tiers (a trireme had the zeugites on the level of the thranites, the upper oarsmen, not the thalamites, the lower oarsmen, so adding oar banks appears to have been from the top down - a quinquereme would have had three banks in the upper tier and two in the lower, for example).

One may incidentally observe how the artist would have extreme difficulty depicting even three sets of extended oars.  This in itself could explain the lack of exact representations of polyremes.
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manomano

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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2019, 09:49:37 PM »

Explain the answers. Is that a bireme?

It is probably safer not to use bireme in this context, but a two-tiered vessel.  Most people see this as a larger warship (note the tower) and it appears to be decked.  Note the outrigger the marines are standing on, with its decorative patterns.  Some interpet this as another tier of oars, with the oars withdrawn leaving only blades visible.

It's so.
But it is much more  possible that are only holes for ventilation.
Oars were very long.:  where were retracted?
But please observe a little particular in this relief:
crocodiles dont' live in Tiber, this was not a Roman warship but an hellenistic one,
perhaps captured.
This marble frieze is in a temple at Preneste devoted to the " Dea Fortuna",
ancients Romans were proud of their booty,not of their own technology.
What can you expect from a nation of thiefs?
This is a much larger warship than a four: perhaps a six, perhaps much more.
Athenian navy sustituted trieres  with fours because a four without outridgers has
a comparable beam and could be recovered in the shipsheds at Zea,Pireo.
With half the oars of a triere, was much less expensive(oars be expensive) , more stable on the sea,
better endurance, less training for men, a reasonoble complement of marines( 70-80 against ten).

It's not scientific declare that " the artist would have extreme difficulty depicting even three sets of extended oars"
the images below show that, if a four rank of oars could exists,
 the artist had not any difficulty to represent them. ( there are painting in Pompei with 3 row of oars not more)
If dont' exists any rappresentation of a warship with more that 3 ranks of oars,
well, perhaps this ship never exists.

The second image is very interesting because oars were not in echelon but just
one over the other, so a large warship ( a six)

About hypozomata  I remember that it's  was not intended to contrast lateral forces ,
but longitudinal ones.
It's scope was to avoid the breaking of the keel, trieres were not high:
much less that  12-13 times  their length : a dangerous relationship.



« Last Edit: May 18, 2019, 10:50:02 AM by manomano »
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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2019, 10:56:47 AM »
Here is a slightly clearer version of Mariano's second picture.



Note the three tiers of oars.  Whether the direct stacking one above another is correct or a stylization is a point of dispute.  Incidentally, for an idea of scale, note the row of scuta on their sides  along the gunwale.
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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2019, 11:05:30 AM »
Athenian navy sustituted trieres  with fours because a four without outridgers has
a comparable beam and could be recovered in the shipsheds at Zea,Pireo.

In Reply 9 on this thread, you wrote:

Quote
Later athenian navy substitute all trieres for four, why?

Did this mean the Athenians replaced triremes with quadriremes or quadriremes with triremes?

Quote
With half the oars of a triere, was much less expensive(oars be expensive) , more stable on the sea,
better endurance, less training for men, a reasonable complement of marines( 70-80 against ten).

But do we know a quadrireme would have 'half the oars' of a trireme?  And if so, how?

Quote
But it is much more  possible that are only holes for ventilation.
Oars were very long.:  where were retracted?

Ships are traditionally ventilated by the use of hatches and ducts (in the days before electrical systems).  Weakening a structural strake (longitudinal plank) by piercing it with that many holes so close together would make the ship likely to come apart in anything other than clear weather.  I think we can therefore dispose of the ventilation hypothesis, unless anyone knows of any galleys at any time in history which were ventilated in such fashion.

Oars were retracted into the hull (as was the usual drill to avoid being oar-raked when passing an enemy ship) under the deckhead in a cataphract (decked) ship; into the open air in an aphract (undecked) vessel.

Quote
It's not scientific declare that " the artist would have extreme difficulty depicting even three sets of extended oars"
the images below show that, if a four rank of oars could exists,
 the artist had not any difficulty to represent them. ( there are painting in Pompei with 3 row of oars not more)
If dont' exists any representation of a warship with more that 3 ranks of oars,
well, perhaps this ship never exists.

Your point that an artist could add more layers of oars in a simplified depiction (as in your first picture) is a good one, and I accept it.

It may however be worth remembering that following Actium Octavian disposed of practically every polyreme in existence and the future Roman navy had nothing larger than a trireme.  Depictions under the Empire would therefore represent only triremes and smaller vessels except in one specific instance: a depiction of Actium.  Do you know of any depictions of Actium?  (The English-speaking world appears not to; the Italian-speaking world might know something.)

Quote
The second image is very interesting because oars were not in echelon but just
one over the other, so a large warship ( a six)

I would say the second image is a Roman trireme. Is there any detail which would suggest it might be a polyreme?

Quote
About hypozomata  I remember that it's  was not intended to contrast lateral forces ,
but longitudinal ones.
It's scope was to avoid the breaking of the keel, trieres were not high:
much more that  12-13 times  their length : a dangerous relationship.

Yes, this is exactly what they were used for: it is like longitudinal internal bracing, but self-tensioning. It was also very effective: when John Coates designed the Olympias, he could not obtain hemp rope so used steel rope instead.  This caused two problems; the metal rope was unable to adjust its torsion in tune with the hull, and it required extra material for a covering (a protective tunnel in case it broke - if a hemp rope breaks, it does little harm, but if a steel cable breaks, the results are usually deadly).  The Athenian designers seem to have been very precise and accurate at what they did, including paying very careful attention to the interactions of their materials.  In some ways, modern engineering is quite crude by comparison.
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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2019, 11:40:01 AM »
Quote
Do you know of any depictions of Actium?



All the ships appear to be shown as single tiered.  Though the artist doesn't suggest he has a detailed knowledge of the technicalities of ship construction.
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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2019, 07:37:15 PM »
Thanks for that, Anthony: an excellent find.  As you mention, the comprehension or depiction of ship design seems a little weak, and the general pre-printing-era illustrative habit of treating relative scale as an optional extra (I am sure ships had more crew members than just four giants) seems to be in vogue.

Our sources for Actium are quite specific that Antony's* fleet contained polyremes.  This picture uses the kind of evasion I half-suspected artists might utilise to save themselves work: everyone gets one bank of oars but the oars are like planks and could represent any (reasonable) number of shafts.  Painting might have made a difference here, as the solid oar 'ridges' could be turned into multiple oar shafts by use of paint (I suspect we ourselves have a few modellers who may have done this).
*(no relation) ;)

Beyond that particular conjecture, every ship is, as you observe, single-tiered, unlike Mariano's previous examples.  Unless the artist has chosen to attempt exclusively lembi, we are left wondering how far artistic representations can be relied on - although some details seem well represented, e.g. the two rams which seem to have been characteristic of this period (the traditonal low ram and the Macedonian high ram being used to gether to get the best of both systems) and the positioning of the steering oars (when the artist has remembered ot include them).  Also noticeable are the guardrails or similar along the gunwales, and the ship in the lower left has an interesting line of what appear to be boxes with holes in a tier above the oars - perhaps another oar tier which the artist avoided fitting out with oars to make his life simpler?
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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2019, 09:01:36 AM »
I suspect that trying to read accurate detail from this is a bit pointless.  The ships look they have come from a typical pattern book, which truncates the length and stylizes the oars.   The sculpture has added some fiddly bits to differentiate the ships, like different rails, figure heads and stern ornaments. 

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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2019, 08:58:28 PM »
Thinking about it, I am inclined to agree.
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Duncan Head

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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2019, 09:06:36 AM »
I suspect that trying to read accurate detail from this is a bit pointless.

There is an article online - La Batalla de Actium: es Posible un Estudio Técnico a Través de la Iconografía? - which seems to discuss this very question. If anyone has good enough Spanish, that is. Some discussion of the relief also here (in English).
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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2019, 09:40:14 AM »
Thanks, Duncan; my Spanish is unfortunately nonexistent (other than 'Tu hablas Ingles?'), so I shall perforce have to miss out on that article.  A pity, as 'estudio tecnico' looks as if there might be some serious consideration of the actual technology.
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manomano

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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2019, 01:15:36 PM »
 My mistake,  my first sentence was wrong;  simply I forgot to replace  the end of it.
I hope I will not beheaded for this !

-Athenian later navy  3 -------->  to 4 ,

The beam of Olympias  is 5.50 m.,  a photo of its interior ( I see it but I cannot posted it here  for known reasons)
shows that there is no place  for a fourth man and a fourth oar in each of its section.
Put a further tier of oars over the existing one need a larger hull,  a beam wider only  a half a yard over dont' permit the recovery of the ship in
a 6 m wide historical shipsheds,also ignoring the fact that a oar in that position have an angle
on water that oar is useless. 
(Putting a further single man on one of the existing oar  have the same results about beam,
but is senseless: at that point  make a five that is better.)
But without outrideges there is the place for 4 men manning  two oars a two level:
so 90 oars against 172,  a more efficent ship with only a slightly reduced performance in speed.
I repeat that if someone dont' agree about the fact that ancient ships with more than three tiers of oars
are  preposterous and dont' furnish  any  valid proof of the contrary is as to debate about the sex of angels.

I read  the spanish notes about Actium (no problem for me with spanish),not very interesting:
 stated only that:
- in a temple at Nikopolis were a collection of 36 "rostra" from  Antony's ships (no one remain),
- reliefs from "Ara Pacis" are basically  not commented and related to contemporay coins as " celebratory"
- some notes about historial references Floro,Cassio Dione, Plutarch , that everyone knows.
- Nothing about tecnology.
After all, hot air.

We know that:
-at  battles between Agrippa and Pompeus, the first fleet was composed with 5-6 and the second one primary with 4 .
 and that ships of Agrippa were higher than ships of the enemy and were immune from ramming.
-at Actium battle Augustus had smaller ships than Antony and that the greatest ships were ten.
-Only ships with half-bank equal or more that four men had towers.
-The ships from reliefs "batalla-naval-de-actio-colec-duques-de-cardona" have a single tier of oars.
-No ancient source stated incontrovertibly how many men manned an oar for ships excluding trieres.

It's tecnically possible that an ancients classical ship could had  5-7 men to a single oar?
The answer is YES , because renaissance standard galley ,manned with "scaloccio " system ,had five and galeasses had 6-7.
Incidentally "zenzile" galleys had not more that three oars for bank.
For which reason ancient greek, carthaginian or roman  must be different from french or venetian shipbuilders?
Why dont' think to compare  a deceres to a galeasse ? ( pheraps manned at two-three levels)
The purpose to do them was the same.
I dont' discard the reliefs from "Ara pacis" as necessarily celebratory, subsist.

Think about it.

But now I return to the originary tread.
There are only two examples of ancient rams:
One from Athlit and several from Egadi site.
And a ram from "ara Pacis" relif.

http://www.marine-antique.net/L-eperon-d-Athlit?lang=it

The only possible way to have some idea about decere's ram is compare the exisisting edvidences
with the supports in the wall of nikopolis sanctuary.
One my personal note: ancients galley dont' sunk I prefer to use CTL.
I have a my idea about 12 to 2 ratio, simply the roman ships lost their ram ramming.


« Last Edit: May 20, 2019, 01:23:27 PM by manomano »
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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #28 on: May 20, 2019, 01:24:54 PM »
Egadi
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Re: Ram Sizes at Actium
« Reply #29 on: May 20, 2019, 01:33:05 PM »
There are only two examples of ancient rams:
One from Athlit and several from Egadi site.
And a ram from "ara Pacis" relif.

And the Belgammel ram (alias "Fitzwilliam ram"), though that's a lot smaller and not all that much use for discussing the ram of a dekeres.
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