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

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And on to the lashings for the side rudders. The diagrams of lashings in the TAMU paper I mentioned on the previous page weren't much help, so I worked up something of my own. Remembering back to my days as a Sea Scout at the age of 14 I remembered a lashing we'd used. But first I had to re-teach myself how to do a clove hitch, something I hadn't tried for 57 years, and even back then I'm not sure I really mastered it. Took me two or three goes with the instructions in front of me, then maybe half a dozen tries without. And I think now I can do a clove hitch from here on in - something I think is going to be very useful in future models involving ratlines(!). The clove hitch starts the lashing:




Then round and round:


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This is a sort of universal joint made from rope. It allows the rudder shaft to pivot  left and right for steering under the influence of the tiller, just as in a stern rudder. And it can also swing upwards around the beam so the rudder lifts out of the water - either when only one rudder is in use, or to enable the dromon to be pulled up onto the beach stern-first.


Then for the lower lashing - this one is made of lighter rope. According to the TAMU paper on the previous page of this log, if the rudder hits a submerged obstruction, instead of the rudder shaft being shattered the rope will break allowing the rudder to swing up out of the way. Before beaching the ship this lower lashing is untied.  







That's all for now . . .


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Ah! But he has an awning over his head (yet to be added) which will take care of the banner tails.


But they certainly had those big banners  - in fact I'm being a bit conservative, if anything . . .




From the Synopsis Historian of Ioannes Skylitzes (commonly known as the Madrid Skylitzes Chronicle, after the library where it's held)


And I've just realised I have another Byzantine pic of a steering oar with a tiller - check it out - it looks a lot like what I ended up making! Though it seems to me the steersman is holding it the wrong side of the rudder shaft.




From the Sermons of Gregory of Nazianzus:  Pantaleimon Cod. 6 f. 183r


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11 hours ago, druxey said:

The Madrid image has the steersman using a double-handed grip, I note.


The one in the blue, yes. It's a bit hard to see what the steersman in the red is doing. Maybe I should go through all the illustrations in the Skylitzes to see if there are any others showing anything worthwhile on this subject.

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Thanks everybody for the likes and OC for the nice comment.


Pat, as far as I can work out that's the fixing point for the steering oar against the hull. They came in various types (the TAMU paper goes into them in considerable detail). I chose the triangular ones you can see in my pictures above,




but there were plenty of other types - "box", "socket" and even some where the steering oar actually goes through a hole in the hull..

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I found a couple of interesting illustrations from the Madrid Skylitzes. First, I need to let you know that this manuscript is a Byzantine history and was produced in Sicily in the second half of the 12th century under the rule of the Sicilo-Normans. A number of different artists from various traditions and cultures illustrated it, which accounts for the different artistic styles. Most of the ones below are probably by Western artists, but the ones I've based the dromon on (such as the one above with all the flags flying in the breeze) are in the Byzantine tradition, produced by Byzantine-trained artists.


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Two handed grip on rudder -     folio 132 verso.                                                                                                  folio 134 verso.




This is the only illustration by this artist who is almost certainly West European.




Probably single-handed. Folio 146 verso.




Folio 168 verso. Western artist, whose renditions of ships are very simplistic.





From folio 138 verso. Note the beached galleys with their steering oars swivelled up out of the water. This appears to be the only rendition of a ship in the manuscript that shows both steering oars, though it's pretty certain that double rudders were a standard feature.


It is possible that in smaller vessels there was only one steersman who operated both rudders. Certainly when Tim Severin and his associates followed Jason's voyage from Thessaly to Colchis in what is now Southern Russia in the 1970, the steersman held one rudder in his right hand and the other in his left, and it worked well. Due to budget constraints their reconstruction of the Argo was smaller than Jason's 50-oared pentekontor.


However, each rudder shaft broke twice on the voyage and had to be mended. So the forces involved are considerable, even on a twenty-oared vessel.



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The awning for the poop has been painted for a long time, with an eagle motif. And now I've painted the substructure to match the rest of the ship, particularly the castles. The columns are wood painted to resemble porphyry, the purplish marble reserved for Imperial use.




And now to add the figures I've been saving up all this time.


The Emperor (Alexios I Komnenos, known to the vikings as Kirjalax - from Kyrie (lord) Alexios).






And now the awning, and the flute-player who gives the time to the oarsmen (far right of the picture, in blue):




And the Emperor's Varangian (Viking) bodyguards:




And two Imperial courtiers:




 Unfortunately, you can barely see the Emperor under the awning:






I just have to tidy up a couple of ropes and the ship is complete, after more than 5 years!


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I still have to complete the stand, add a nameplate and make a case. But that's it. I'm already having withdrawal symptoms . . .









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Well done indeed, Steven. It has been interesting to follow your journey into uncharted territory and ending up with a plausible result. I've enjoyed the presentation of what evidence you had in order to arrive at an outstanding conclusion. And thank you for putting up with my admittedly terrible puns.

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9 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

porphyry, the purplish marble reserved for Imperial use.



Oooh, my turn to show off pedantic knowledge! Geologically speaking, porphyry is an igneous rock (formed from cooling lava), whereas marble is metamorphic (physically and chemically transformed from limestone). However, in the building trade, "marble" is routinely used to refer to any crystalline rock that can be cut and polished regardless of origin. "Granite" is the same way in kitchens and baths; most "granite countertops" cause a geologist to bristle. 


Anyway, aside from the rare pleasure of applying my geologic background to model building, this has been such a wonderful journey through a period and ship-building style I knew nothing of. Thanks for sharing so much detail and context with us along the way. I am much the better for it.


Also, what happened to the horns on the guards' helmets? (ducks)

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Not only a stunning and beautifully built model, Steven, but also a journey of discovery through the Byzantine empire.


Lots of unclear evidence winnowed and crystallised into the Dromon.


You can be proud of it/her ( I have no idea whether Mediterranean ships are referred to as feminine!)

Many thanks for sharing.  
I can safely say that no one who viewed your build log will ever pull a hose without seeing ( in their minds eye) a lateen yard rising steadily with three unfurlers ( Tom, Dick and Mustafa?) ensconced thereapon.

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

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