The bireme

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EXHIBITS    >    The nautical technology of the ancient Greeks    >   

The bireme

The bireme was an oared warship with two rows of oars on each side. It was a revolutionary invention by (possibly the Biotian Greeks since the Trojan War or more probable their settlers, the Erythraeans in Asia Minor in the 8th century B.C.) which doubled the motion force of the ship without increasing its length. This was an important advantage in pirate persecutions and in the ramming of opponents (with the ram of the prow).

Navigation was achieved with the two big oars of the stern. Complementarily, it had a large square sail with many pulleys for its unencumbered handling. It usually had 100 oars ("ekatontoros"). Its length and width reached 32 and 4, 80 metres respectively.

Sometimes it had a deck for the protection of the oarsmen and the facile transport of the warriors.

SOURCES: "The History of the Greek Nation, Ekdotiki Athens", "Dellopoulos, The Greek Trireme", "Deligiannis Pericles, Naval History", "Homer, Iliad", "Aelianos Taktikos, Tactic theory".