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10th-11th century Byzantine dromon by Louie da fly - 1:50 - FINISHED!


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Question to Steven.

 

Your dromon has two rows of oars on each side. Is actualy the corresponding ship to the older athenian bireme. Do you know how these ships were exactly named in order to distinguish the number of rows and  oars?  

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Hi Christos,

 

Are you asking this question about dromons? In other words was there a systematic way of naming Byzantine oared ships to show how many oars they had? There seems to be nothing of that sort relating to Byzantium.

 

There are various names given to the war galleys of Byzantium - the single-banked scout ships were called galeai, and the larger ships went by several names - dromon, khelandion, pamphilion and others, but there was never any description of what each word actually meant, so the academics have been arguing about it for a long time now. Whether khelandion or pamphilion were just other names for a dromon is uncertain, and we'll probably never know. Apparently the word bireis was used, but more poetically than accurately, not necessarily to denote that the ship had two banks of oars.  Anna Komnene refers to triremes, but there's no evidence the Byzantines had three-banked vessels - she's just showing off her classical knowledge (as was common at the time), not trying to accurately describe the ships.   

 

And regarding the number oars, there's unfortunately nothing in the names of the vessels to say how many they had but modern estimates of the number of oars for a dromon range from 100 to 150. Again academics can't agree, but I've taken Prof Pryor's figure of 100 as the basis for my model. 

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1 hour ago, Louie da fly said:

Again academics can't agree, but I've taken Prof Pryor's figure of 100 as the basis for my model. 

I am prepared to bet that you are relieved not to have chosen the figure of 150!

 

Academics don't agree, but the best part of that is that they often lay out their arguments in detail, and leave that reader free to be a little more informed and make up their own mind on the balance of the arguments presented (or just because they prefer one viewpoint)

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I misthought about the Ionian!  I meant the Aegean of course.

Good work with the wedges. 

Pity about the halyard knights, but on a ship nearly everything impacts on every other thing. 

I'm sure you have wished sometimes that the rowers could be interlocking, tesselated and probably methane-breathing.

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The wooldings for the after mast wedges in progress, and complete:

 

  20200910_125741.thumb.jpg.f5c1846fc4bd8804fd5d3fb94621f713.jpg   20200910_160336.thumb.jpg.b6a016478a21972cd88329b58a60ffe8.jpg    20200910_160246.thumb.jpg.9b6e869e241113f473f210b14f2429f6.jpg  

 

 

 

Foremast - as mentioned above the halyard knight needed to be moved aft so the mast didn't foul its operation. Here is the deck with the knight removed, then with the slot in the deck extended aft and a new length of plank inserted to close up the gap, all the way to the mast. Then I trimmed the gap so the tenon of the knight fitted exactly into it and relocated the knight to allow enough room for its lanyards to run freely. 

 

20200910_093346.thumb.jpg.66cf630f7148415448687e28c7cf1dc6.jpg        20200910_094147.thumb.jpg.40603acaa09b8bec13001582785ab2f9.jpg          20200910_105309.thumb.jpg.5a867ef126e44e87e78d3981836040e0.jpg

 

I started making the lateen sails. As they are going to be furled I made them narrower than full size so they wouldn't be too bulky when furled. Unfortunately the first method I used didn't work - I cut the fabric out, then taped it down and glued the bolt rope to the top of the sail (the bit that goes against the yard). But as the fabric  was cut on the bias - i.e. at 45 degrees to the weave - the sails mutated. You can see below that the straight line I'd cut along the horizontal had stretched downward, pulling the ends inward - I trimmed the cloth against the bolt rope, but when I measured the sails against the yards they were quite a bit too short.

 

20200910_125933.thumb.jpg.b299902ebc79b47b1241f1ded3ee2c3b.jpg        20200910_140154.thumb.jpg.c28df97434115fa04b2ea0e05e3c45d8.jpg

 

   20200910_125927.thumb.jpg.3223544c572e188cc50a6e347c0963fd.jpg    
  

So I started again. This time I didn't cut the fabric until the bolt ropes were glued in place, which kept it from deforming.

 

  20200910_160133.thumb.jpg.c1d48db69afd72c7f4e64acc09f9224c.jpg

 

And when the glue was dry I cut the sails out. Now, because I'd allowed extra fabric in case they shrank the sails were too long, so I cut them to length and everything worked very nicely. Now I'm in the process of fixing the first sail to the yard with robands - a lot more fiddly and difficult than I'd expected - and very frustrating; I have great difficulty tying a reef knot in cotton thread - fingers too clumsy, tweezers keep on slipping at the last moment - I've finally taken to tying a thumb knot and adding a dab of glue, allowing it to dry and coming back to finish the knot. Very time consuming.

 

I took the third photo from a funny angle, so it looks like the sail starts a fair way down the yard. In fact it comes all the way up to the blocks - the end part is just flipped on its edge so you can't see it.

 

 

  20200910_165212.thumb.jpg.cb3e206c0ad6f0459466ed2c15531390.jpg    20200910_165205.thumb.jpg.ea758392497c6995aba5f81f98229026.jpg   20200911_084457.thumb.jpg.beb7326988593a9b74927d4227ac21bb.jpg

 

 

While I'm waiting for the glue to dry I've been getting the halyards themselves sorted out and attached to the yards:

 

20200911_121119.thumb.jpg.c09c71d753e954fd1427333e3dbc1adb.jpg 

 

 

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That's all for now. More to follow as I get more done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

So I started again. This time I didn't cut the fabric until the bolt ropes were glued in place, which kept it from deforming.

 

  20200910_160133.thumb.jpg.c1d48db69afd72c7f4e64acc09f9224c.jpg

Steven, I like this idea that you used for keeping your sail from deforming when you cut it.  I will keep the technique in mind when it comes time for me to cut my own lateen sail.

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11 hours ago, Sceatha said:

but how did you judge the adjusted size/shape? Is it by guessing or did you do any tests? 

Yep, guesswork. I started out with a 90-45-45 degree triangle, with the long side running along the yard. Then I made the distance between the side that runs along the yard, and the vertex oposite it, half what it would otherwise have been. No idea if it's going to work, but if not I'll just have to cut some more off I suppose.

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Thanks everybody for the likes and particularly to mrcc for the nice comment.

 

More progress. I've been working on the robands - fixing the sails to the yards:

 

20200914_135802.thumb.jpg.364a2980b2c4957099868104ab134001.jpg

 

 

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Note: in the picture above what looks like a break in the yard is actually just a bit of darker grain.

 

I got about half way then happened to compare what I'd done with a photo of an actual lateen rigged vessel of about the same size as the dromon in real life and realised I had the robands about twice as close together as they should have been.

 

20200916_112440.thumb.jpg.a734a615727a6761a97bfab39954377d.jpg

 

So I removed every second one. As I was about halfway through, for the same amount of work if I'd had the spacing correct I would have had all the robands done. (sigh)

 

20200917_152620.thumb.jpg.3ea3464b11885280509414d0b6a3570d.jpg

 

And all complete! And I've started furling one of the sails, the only way I know how, by clamping everything and gradually adding the gaskets.

 

20200917_184644.thumb.jpg.c02e6bb490c698fed217a35ce9c9ecd8.jpg

 

The other thing I've been working on is carving three figures to go up on the fore yard, unfurling the sail so the oarsmen can have a break. (there's a nice breeze coming from aft)

 

1842122293_PortSaidlateenfurling.thumb.jpg.8b950de79c326497fe35886698716c24.jpg

 

20200910_165251.thumb.jpg.56db9081241281e73e4695909a628488.jpg   20200911_093000.thumb.jpg.c91b3f0c26122f523bb9ce10eb07eff6.jpg   

 

20200911_093006.thumb.jpg.909c8a0ad104b7b5a32adbbee10f776a.jpg    20200911_093029.thumb.jpg.9b159e236fecfd030146b00b8a19a39d.jpg   

 

 

20200911_214005.thumb.jpg.558199af4a07c9ebde6f2c19780b76aa.jpg   20200911_214019.thumb.jpg.5e96942dc9af8fc1e7763d1a4f590a8a.jpg   

 

 

20200911_214111.thumb.jpg.ba4efef8e9730b3c1d34eaa5124d12b6.jpg

 

20200915_134442.thumb.jpg.a27b9b953b69e0f3df50c0a6e7f8b3dd.jpg   

 

Unfortunately there was a really nasty knot right in line with the left leg of the last guy, and his foot broke off, with a section more like gunge than wood at his ankle. I had to do a lot of bodging to get it to work halfway decently.

 

20200916_112539.thumb.jpg.31e9c0b937720d59df9e0a31e7e4f976.jpg    20200916_093254.thumb.jpg.ccf1b06c6ba35deda395cf20523ff7a0.jpg  

 

More to follow as I get more done . . .
 

 

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Wonderful, Louie!

Very glad you decided to carve the active men in the rig - they are shaking out the furl and loosing the gaskets, I expect.

Well carved.  I expect that you mentioned the wood you are using.  It looks home cut and dried.
 Pity about the ankle; but I realise that if it was all easy it would not need your talents

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2 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

had to do a lot of bodging to get it to work halfway decently.

I feel that I should point out that your remediation was not technically bodging, as that profession works with green timber. 
But we know what you mean, and I am being pedantic

Did the repair involve sawdust and glue?

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Thanks everybody for the likes, and thanks for the comments, Liteflight.

 

However I need to point out that there's an older meaning for bodging, but even more irrelevant to the present case (I see your pedantry and raise it). In Tudor times a bodger was someone who pulled old garments apart and re-made the fabric into new garments.:P But I was using the broader Australian meaning mentioned by Banyan above: "to tie a few parts together with fencing wire and you will have a true Aussie creation"

 

The little guys are carved from pear wood from our neighbour's tree, from small branches that have been sitting under the house for a few years. This time I didn't use sawdust and glue - the gunge was (barely) adequate to glue to; in fact its consistency was very similar to that very sawdust and glue that you asked about (Oops! Ended a sentence with a preposition).

 

Here are the three topmen painted and ready to go.

 

 

20200918_081503.thumb.jpg.efb5ad66e47898d4ad2741081f5feb35.jpg

 

Note that they've taken off their shoes and hose to improve grip as they climb the yard (I do this when I go up on the roof of our house, for the same reason). I've made their legs paler than their hands and faces because they're usually covered so they haven't got tanned. The man in the red tunic is the one with the dodgy leg; it's not perfect but not too bad. I can always tell myself he had a childhood accident and his leg healed crooked. And I've tried a little shading, having been inspired by the soldiers in Old Collingwood's Waterloo diorama.

 

And here they are dry fitted to the yard. I have to furl the sail and hoist it before I can put them in place permanently. Note the shallowness of the sail, which stops it looking too full when furled.

 

20200917_222553.thumb.jpg.009954bc44fdefc3ae7c59f627b4c315.jpg  

 

 

20200917_222557.thumb.jpg.c35c5f55ed4050d132445d9f7e18f4e8.jpg

 

 

 

20200917_222606.thumb.jpg.14fbf9f8c0f9aa12772d5fecc552382e.jpg

 

Now I have to decide whether to remove the 8 oarsmen furthest aft and put their oars in storage along the benches - because the original idea was that those would be the guys pulling on the halyard and unfurling the sail, so their benches should be empty.  Otherwise there are extra crew members who only work when under sail, and I can't see them doing that when there are plenty of big strong men pulling the oars who could be temporarily re-purposed.

 

 

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I thought that a bodger was a person who made rustic furniture, usually chairs.  But we digress - yet again!

 

Back to business: you seem to be quicker and quicker at carving out and painting your figures. I love the latest ones astride the yard!

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14 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

.:P But I was using the broader Australian meaning mentioned by Banyan above: "to tie a few parts together with fencing wire and you will have a true Aussie creation"

Sorry, I am still learning Australian, eh?

THAT type of bodging in the UK involves chewing gum and baling wire, and more recently WD 40 and duct tape

I really like the carved shinners, and appreciate the skin shading you have painted.  They would have some grip on the robands, but it’s a steep climb.

14 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

Otherwise there are extra crew members who only work when under sail, and I can't see them doing that when there are plenty of big strong men pulling the oars who could be temporarily re-purposed.

I think that big and strong are not the ideal physical combo for the degasketting crew.  All the photos I have seen have been of slight, young grinning lads.  Dunno if dromons have anchor cables, and therefore need nippers.  But I suspect there would be a small mob of younkers who carry water to the rowers, basically facilitate everything for the crew (and release the gaskets)

Do you know anything about brailing as applied by dromons?

And what is the plural?  Dromonai?

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28 minutes ago, liteflight said:

They would have some grip on the robands, but it’s a steep climb.

True, but obviously not impossible, as the black and white photo above shows.

 

30 minutes ago, liteflight said:

Dunno if dromons have anchor cables, and therefore need nippers.

Anchor cables, yes. Nippers? I doubt it, but how they did raise the anchor I don't really know. I've put a windlass on the foredeck just aft of the forecastle (pseudopation), but I've no idea how that would all work. Anchors of the time were not very heavy - the ones recovered from the approximately contemporary Serce Limani wreck weighed between 47 and 67 kg. The Serce Limani ship was  a merchantman about 15metres long - about half the length of the dromon, but perhaps approaching its overall weight as a dromon had to be very lightly built so the oarsmen could actually get it to move.

 

45 minutes ago, liteflight said:

I suspect there would be a small mob of younkers who carry water to the rowers, basically facilitate everything for the crew (and release the gaskets)

You could be right, though my guys don't really fit that description . . . Still, it gives me an excuse not to empty those oarbenches.

 

(Dromai, I think, but I'm not sure. The second "o" of the word dromon is the long "o" -  omega, not the short "o" -  omicron, which indicates the word is "running" rather than "runner". So the usual rules for making plural nouns, (where the plural would be dromoi) presumably don't apply. Perhaps more information than you needed.). No information on brailing.

 

There are very few contemporary representations of dromai under sail and they are so oversimplified that I'm pathetically grateful they even show shrouds - they don't show tacks, vangs or sheets so it's probably asking a bit much to expect them to show brails  . . . 

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2 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

(Dromai, I think, but I'm not sure. The second "o" of the word dromon is the long "o" -  omega, not the short "o" -  omicron, which indicates the word is "running" rather than "runner". So the usual rules for making plural nouns, (where the plural would be dromoi) presumably don't apply. Perhaps more information than you needed.). No information on brailing.

 

I actually have the answer to this one:

 

The word dromon (δρόμων) as Steven correctly points out is not a noun but a participle, a form of a verb used to declare "the one who..." (one who runs in this case).

The plural in this case (if I am not mistaken, as this is hellenistic koini Greek) should probably be dromontes (δρόμοντες). There was also at the time a dual form, in between singular and plural and used to denote exactly two things. That form would be dromonte (δρόμοντε). All this is extrapolated from the similar participle ἔχων (the one who has/owns).

Funnily enough, in modern Greek, the verb dromo (δρομώ) does not exist anymore, so the word dromon is used as a noun, usually in the modernized form dromonas (δρόμωνας), having lost the connection to the verb. In this case the plural is dromones (δρόμωνες).

 

This is shaping up great Steven! It's gonna look stunning and very lifelike when it's done.

 

George

 

 

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Thank you George. It's always been an area of uncertainty for me. I normally bypass the problem by writing dromons, but there's always that niggling doubt that I'm doing the right thing with it . . .

 

I learnt Ancient Greek for a year about 20 years ago, with the idea of using it to read Byzantine manuscripts. I enjoyed it very much and I wish I'd been able to go on but life got in the way, so I never had a chance to get back to it. I got to use it only once - I was in Athens at the base of the acropolis. There was a tiny church there made of bits of marble and discarded stone. I asked a workman "What church is that?" (τις εκκλησίας? - Ancient Greek, remember) and he answered Άγιος Γεώργιος (Saint George). Big triumph for me - actually got to have a conversation (no matter how short) in Greek!

 

There's been movement at the station. I've attached the sails with robands and furled them - the after sail completely furled and the foresail in the process of being unfurled. Topmen dry fitted.

 

20200918_192613.thumb.jpg.66e559474bb80ce61de0b540ab5075a9.jpg

 

And here they are in place. The fore halyard is pretty much done and the truss which holds the yard to the mast is in place. (I tried this out a couple of months ago to see if I could do it and had a lot of trouble -it all seemed so complicated. But I must have absorbed the information because this time it was quite easy.)  I still need to do more work on the after yard.

 

 

    20200919_121900.thumb.jpg.b78baff7b62d65b6b992bbffb46d6488.jpg

 

Here's the fore yard, with the topmen undoing the gaskets. It's occurred to me that it would probably be good policy to undo the central gaskets first, to get access to the sheet - so it didn't fly around out of control when the whole sail was unfurled. 

 

20200919_122048.thumb.jpg.6b4b927cacc3ab83a862d6c61728883b.jpg

 

 

 

20200919_122116.thumb.jpg.6a4c4be971adaba694ec99d337533d69.jpg

 

 

And the after yard in the process of being hoisted. When the model is displayed that's how it will be, with the yard halfway up the mast and the other guys I carved hauling on the halyard.

 

20200919_122054.thumb.jpg.7e068de807c9b7eeccc0942f468403c9.jpg

 

 

 

Still quite a lot to do. I have to work out the belaying for the tacks - it looks like they need to pass through an "open" fairlead a fair way in front of the mast (to control the front end of the yard in normal sailing conditions) and lead to a ringbolt or something aft of the mast, so the yard can be pulled back far enough to pass behind the mast when tacking. I also have to do the vangs at the other end of the yard and work out where to belay them.

 

I know standing rigging usually goes up first, but I'm leaving the shrouds till after all this is done - I think that will make the work easier, so they don't get in the way while I'm working on the rigging for the yards.

 

And I've started making the new (cloth) banner to replace the metal foil one that self-destructed a few months ago. After my experience with cutting out the sails, this time I taped the fabric to a bit of board before I started. I'll cut it to shape after I've finished painting. I'm using acrylics, which worked well when I made the awning for the poop. I first painted the whole thing with white acrylic so it wouldn't "bleed", and I was pleasantly surprised to find the pencil marks still showed up,

 

 

 

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I've done two coats of pink and one of blue and of white. I'll add another blue coat and go over the white border and cross again. Then I'll do the red for the other "tails". I'm hoping after all that it won't be too stiff to put a "wave" in it so it looks like it's fluttering.

 

 

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18 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

I learnt Ancient Greek for a year about 20 years ago, with the idea of using it to read Byzantine manuscripts. I enjoyed it very much and I wish I'd been able to go on but life got in the way, so I never had a chance to get back to it. I got to use it only once - I was in Athens at the base of the acropolis. There was a tiny church there made of bits of marble and discarded stone. I asked a workman "What church is that?" (τις εκκλησίας? - Ancient Greek, remember) and he answered Άγιος Γεώργιος (Saint George). Big triumph for me - actually got to have a conversation (no matter how short) in Greek!

That is definitely an achievement! It's one of the greatest feelings when you are learning a language and manage to get a natural response from a native speaker in the country.

 

Those figures on the yard look awesome!

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Aaaah!

I have acrylic Matt medium in large quantities for painting in acrylics - I will give it a whirl and see if it’s close to the acrylic varnish I have not been able to find this side of the world.
 

thanx, Druxey

 

I tend to use a synthetic/ cotton mix for sails of radio yachts because it cuts with a very hot soldering iron, getting sealed into the bargain.  
I would not propose anything so venal in this august gathering.  Such a practice would deprive hundreds of sailmakers hours of fun couching boltropes round sails and cringling where cringles are called for

 

Dromon looking increasingly fit for purpose, lovely realisation of your research, Steven

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  • ccoyle changed the title to 10th-11th century Byzantine dromon by Louie da fly - 1:50 - FINISHED!

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