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Contemporary reconstruction of trireme

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

A modern reconstruction of a trireme named Olympias
A modern reconstruction of a trireme named Olympias

In the years 1985-1987 the ancient trireme (“three oars”) called “Olympias”, used by the Greeks, was recreated on a 1: 1 scale. These types of ships were naturally also used by other ancient armies, such as Rome or Carthage.

The ship was built in Piraeus (Greece) and was created in cooperation with architects dealing with ship design and historians. The ship is 36.5 m long and 5.5 m wide and is probably much heavier than the originals. At the front of the ship is a 200 kg bronze ram, imitating the original that is in the museum in Piraeus.

Trireme has travelled by sea four times. The most interesting test took place in 1987 when 170 volunteers sat down at the oars, and the ship reached a speed of 17 km/h (a speed of 30 km/h was required for the vessel to be able to effectively use the ram). Interestingly, the unit was able to make a 180-degree turn in a minute.

In general, the experiment brought many answers to the questions bothering researchers and proved the efficiency of the individual.

The ship is currently located in Athens in the Park of Tradition Maritime.


Trireme – a unit commonly used in antiquity

Trireme owes its name to the “three-row boat” from the basic team, which consisted of three rowers; each operated one oar on three different levels. The Trireme was the dominant ship in the Mediterranean Sea until the 3rd century BCE. He was small, agile and played in large groups. It had a sail-oar drive, but the battle mainly used oars, which ensured steering.

The main method of fighting triremes was to use a blunt ram to destroy the hull of an enemy ship. During the naval battle, numerous manoeuvres and circumnavigation of enemy units took place in order to obtain the best position against the enemy ship, so as to make the most effective use of the ram.

The ship’s crew consisted of about 200 people, of which 170 were rowers, and the rest were soldiers, service and officers. According to the researchers, the unit was able to maintain a constant speed for many hours thanks to the changing rowers (only half of the cadre at the same time) and a slim figure.

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