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Greek Merchant Ship

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Firstly Greeks did not make differences between merchant and war ships. They distinguished only those galleys that were intended for war actions and had a crew armed by darts, spears and axes. The rowers force allowed to move forward even against the head wind without lowering the sails. Later on when interests of Greek colonization required creation of a more powerful fleet, the merchant vessels became larger as to carry more goods and people and their sails finally dismissed oars that were used only at maneuvering in ports. Today at the Pirey museum one can see a model of a Greek merchant ship that had 22 oars. Their merchant ships the Greeks built in the manner of Phoenicians and Crete inhabitants. As they were deprived of pitch and some other kinds of materials needed for construction of ships, Greeks were to order their ships at the Phoenician port - Tir. Short and wide ships were built there (the width was relative to the length as 1 to 4). Small merchant ships cruising among the islands of the Aegean Sea had shallow draughts due to shallow waters in local ports. Their registered displacement constituted 1015 t. More large ships for far voyages were of from 200 to 300 t of displacement. According to the curve of the stern these ships were pulled at the coast for a night. They had upgraded free-boards with latticed guards and side ladders. The mast was installed in the middle of the ship and carried a gay-colored mainsail. One or two steering oars were fastened to the ship's hull. In good wind such a vessel could gather speed to 5 knots (9.2 km/h). Greeks imported a lot of goods and bread from the Black Sea coasts, from Egypt and Sicily, and exported wine, oil, honey and craft items. Most of products were carried in amphoras. The capacity of a Greek amphora averaged 19.4 liters. The full load capacity of merchant ships was equal 10 000 Roman amphoras - the Roman amphora contained 26.2 liters. Fragments of a Greek merchant vessel with 10 000 amphoras on board were found by French divers after the World War II near Marcel. The ship was 26 m in length and 12 m in width. It was sunk in 145 B. C. Displacement and draught of these ships was very large. There was another sloping mast on the bow of the ship that was a little lower than the first one and it carried a square or a triangle sail. The latter was more comfortable at storms.

 

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История кораблей
26.10.2007

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