30-40 m ancient bireme

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Lundrim, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. Lundrim
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    Lundrim Junior Member

    Does any one have any building plan, and list of materials needed for the construction of an ancient bireme ship?
    Please if you have any tips or information for the building of any ancient ships of the Greek or Roman era do let me know.

    sincerely,

    Lundrim
     
  2. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    If you haven't already seen it obtain "The Athenian Trireme: The History and Reconstruction of an Ancient Greek Warship" by J. S. Morrison, J. F. Coates, N. B. Rankov. It covers the design and building of what's intended as a reconstruction of the later trireme. Its not a fully technical book but it gives you an awful lot of insight. The main thing to note is that ships of this period used an extremely complex and technically demanding method of construction. Post classical age ship construction was a lot simpler and greatly lower maintenance, but also a lot heavier. AIUI the strength/weight of classical shipbuilding wasn't really matched until modern adhesives became available. My understanding is that this gives you the choice of either building a functional ship in a totally unhistoric construction, or else building a horrendously expensive, high maintenance and short lived ship, as indeed the originals were.
     
  3. Lundrim
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    Lundrim Junior Member

    Thanks for your tip. I will try to purchase that book. It will definitely give me some ideas.
    Actually I was thinking more about the Roman Liburna type of vessel, and the project that I have in mind it has to be based on historical grounds. Since that ship came into many shapes after it was incorporated in the Roman navy, I was hopping to find a reasonable design that could give me a chance to reproduce it.
     
  4. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    The main problem with historical reproductions is that because of the cost, they are intended to have a long life. However, in their original form they are short lived throw-aways. Labor and materials were cheap and easily available compared to today. For example, finding long lengths of clear old growth lumber is really hard. Some species, like elm and ash are becoming extinct.
     
  5. Lundrim
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    Lundrim Junior Member

    Yes that is true if you think of the labor of the slaves, as well as the fires that are nowadays swallowing up entire forests, but I was hoping that with a little modification of the original design and tight planning could bring back from the oblivion the ancient craft of galley building in this part of the Mediterranean.
     
  6. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    It depends on how many tens of millions of euros you have available. The project is relatively simple; technically. Like anything else, as long as you have enough time and money, it can be done.
     
  7. Lundrim
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    Lundrim Junior Member

    I couldn't agree more, enormous amount of efforts is needed, if this project is to get done. Time ain't a problem, but money as always will be, since this is not a military project but a cultural one.
     
  8. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    If I read the book correctly, then according to Morrison et al it wasn't even simple technically. The design is so extreme as regards L & B as to be way way outside anything in the textbooks, and aspects of the construction, notably the internal rigging of the ship, were very hard to work out and problematic even when they compromised to use some modern materials. The other problem was that they were smack up against the limits of the materials. These ships were constructed of edge joined planks, which were joined with tenons, and the tenons secured by pegs/dowels. According to their calculations the tenons and dowels were right up against the mechanical limits of the materials available, with a rather low safety margin. I *guess* this is probably why Olympias has had to be retired ashore.
    Πολεμικό Ναυτικό - Επίσημη Ιστοσελίδα - Trireme OLYMPIAS
     
  9. Rumars
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    Rumars Senior Member

  10. Lundrim
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    Lundrim Junior Member

    I guess that the techniques that they used at that time with the materials and rigging were try and error, experimenting new ways as difficulties risen up. I wonder if they built the frame before, after a few planks were placed, or after the shell was built?
     
  11. Lundrim
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    Lundrim Junior Member

    gggGuest, I think that why the Romans preferred the Liburna design instead that of the Greeks. :)
     
  12. Lundrim
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    Lundrim Junior Member

    Rumars thanks for your tip.
     
  13. Rumars
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    Rumars Senior Member

    Well they are the only ones I know of active in this field in the required size. I can't comment however as to how well their project is progressing.

    As it happens there is a project underway right now that is going well. They are building a 16m river galley, patterned after the wracks recovered in 1994 in Oberstimm Germany that are dated around 100 a.D. (the oldest dated wood is 106 and the boats were on the river bottom in 118). This is their site Aktuelles https://www.egea-ev.de/aktuelles/ with pictures.
    Other reconstructed river galleys are in Mainz Museum für Antike Schiffahrt des RGZM, Mainz http://web.rgzm.de/museen/museum-fuer-antike-schiffahrt-mainz/

    The pegged tennon technique is something exotic for us, but it was well understood for the 3000 years it was in use. I say 3000 years based on historic records, we have a representation in Egipt that is dated 2400 years B.C and wracks dated 500 a.D., but we must asume it was in use for longer. We even have evidence for double planking using pegged tennons.
    Frames were tipically inserted into half completed hulls, but we have evidence that some boats (the ones from Mainz at least) were buildt over temporary forms.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  14. Lundrim
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    Lundrim Junior Member

    A month ago I contacted Dr. Ronald Bockius from the RGMZ in Mainz, and he was quite ready to offer us his expertise. He had published a study about Liburna galley in the 90', and since no remains of the ship were found yet, it was quite difficult to say for sure what the design of the Illyrian Liburna was. I was hoping to derive the design from the later Liburna ships of the Roman Navy... I'll just have to wait and see if that can be achieved...but in any case more I learn from the subject more intriguing it gets, and so it's worth investigating further the techniques that people used at ancient time in building galleys.
     

  15. Rumars
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    Rumars Senior Member

    The problem I see with the "liburna" is that this became a common name. In later times every small roman vessel was called "liburna". What a typical illyrian liburna might be is not known, and I doubt we could even recognise one if we found some ramains.
    Do you have a certain timeframe in mind where your buildt should be located? 1st century BC maybe?
     
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