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Louie da fly

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

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Roger, I agree with all of that, and in fact I started out making it shorter, then discovered documentation that returned me to the 7 metre length (see my posts of August 1). So it looks like I'm stuck with it . . .

 

Pat, I don't know about a stone anchor. Certainly Byzantine ships of the 11th century had iron anchors (see the Serce Limani ship, for example), but they weren't all that heavy. From Prof Pryor's researches, it appears the anchors (called "irons" in the original Greek) were stored in the bow. I don't know if any anchors have been found among the Yenikapi wrecks.

 

As far as I know, Byzantine galleys avoided anchoring, the crews preferring to drag them up onto the beach stern first, if possible at the end of every day. So they had a series of known harbours with available water supply (as the oarsmen consumed water at a huge rate) and "hopped" from one to another, avoiding multi-day voyages if possible.

 

Steven

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Bit hard anchoring forward with the bows beached Carl :);)  If you want to stop the waves pushing the stern of a 'beached' boat around and beaching sideways, then the idea is to use a stern (kedge) anchor to keep her bows on the beach and stern to the sea.  The cable of a forward anchor would probably also foul on the spur?

 

Not much point anchoring these types of vessels out in a bay to overnight I would think (unless expecting a night action)?   Back in those days, I think, they tended to stay near the coast, unless foraying from their base.  More often than not they probably camped on a beach overnight.  A kedge anchor would then be very useful, even if made of stone; the bows were probably made fast to the beach/coast with some type of 'sand/ground' anchor?  The beauty of a double ended vessel is that it would lay to anchor from aft just as well as from forward? Anything in your research about this Steven?  

 

Food for more thought anyway :)

 

Sorry to have hijacked your build log Steven.

 

cheers

 

Pat

Edited by BANYAN

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Not at all, Pat. I find the discussions on various aspects of these ships and how they operated very instructive and thought-provoking. There are so many questions we don't know the answers to, and questions and comments such as yours raise even more issues which may never have occurred otherwise, even to academics who specialise in such things.

 

For example, one question I had right from the start was how did they organise toilet breaks? Can a single oarsman just leave his bench when he needs to? Keeping in mind that these were free men, not galley slaves chained to the benches. Turns out that not everybody rowed all the time - for example maybe only the forrard oarsmen rowed, or all those aft of the midships. But apart from that, it turns out (from practical experience in the trireme reconstruction Olympias) that oarsmen sweat so much that toilet breaks aren't needed as often as under normal activities. Who would have guessed that without the benefit of hindsight?

 

And though I'd certainly been aware of the unwieldiness of the spur and the forces involved in ramming with it, until you raised it I'd not thought of the adjustment of the ship's trim necessary because of the weight of the spur forrard. 

 

Keep 'em coming!

 

Steven 

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It seems we were responding at the same time Steven.  your response to the anchor issue puts some of my thoughts to rest though.  An iron anchor would still have had sufficient weight to assist, but it seems you have evidence these were stowed forward and the ships were beached stern first.

 

Any discussion by the academics/researchers on whether the spur interfered with the anchor cable?  Another thought, how easy/difficult was it to mount the spur.  To assist ship handling etc, is it possible the spur was carried inboard and only fitted (while beached or the like) as required?

 

An interesting discussion indeed.

 

cheers

 

Pat

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" is it possible the spur was carried inboard and only fitted (while beached or the like) as required?"

So you would have to beach her to fit the spur, run back to sea and get the other ship ... which will be behind the horizon by then, or has it's spur in your back ... besides it will be rather inconveniant to have such a tree trunk on board, at least so I presume ...

 

interesting concept though, Pat

Edited by cog

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I have looked at my pics of dromon and dromon-like vessels from contemporary iconography and have the following comments:

Not all show a spur. ? is spur removable?

The spur is horizontal or slightly up-angled

The spur extends slightly beyond the tip of the bow. Sorry, Steven, I think your spur is much too ithyphallic.:rolleyes:

A stout rope or chain extends from stem to spur.

can be beached stern first or stem first. But probably mostly stern first.

A forecastle (xylokastron) is not always shown.

The siphon for greek fire (katakorax) may have been a removable feature

There were  variants e.g. the chelandion (possibly a horse transport). Much Bigger. The galea was smaller and faster with only one rowing deck.

Anchors not shown (but several would be shipped).

The Muslims had similar dromon like vessels with differing names: dermin for dromon and shalandi for chelandion

This gives a lot of latitude for choice.

Nonetheless this is a fascinating topic which has been poorly addressed by the shipmodeller in the past with many fanciful reconstructions but this model promises to be as close as you can get with present knowledge. Well done Steven.

Dick

 

 

 

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Carl, it is a relatively simple concept - if you know you will be involved in a battle you fit the spur before sailing; otherwise it could stay off/inboard to improve ship-handling?  No need to run to a nearby shore as you suggest, as they would know beforehand if there was likelihood of battle imminent.  One-on-one battles, or to 'chase' another ship, would really only be for anti-piracy patrols or the like, and probably would result in the spur being fitted throughout the patrol.

 

This is purely conjecture only.  There may be some evidence to veto or support such a concept?  Purely from the 'practical point of view'  man-handling such a large (and heavy) chunk of iron-clad timber at those heights would not have been easy on a beach but may have been possible while alongside in their 'port'? 

 

Anything mentioned in the information you have Steven?

 

cheers

 

Pat

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6 hours ago, BANYAN said:

This is purely conjecture only.  There may be some evidence to veto or support such a concept?  Purely from the 'practical point of view'  man-handling such a large (and heavy) chunk of iron-clad timber at those heights would not have been easy on a beach but may have been possible while alongside in their 'port'? 

Could be done with a tripod and some ropes ... (three oars would do the trick)

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22 hours ago, woodrat said:

I have looked at my pics of dromon and dromon-like vessels from contemporary iconography and have the following comments:

Not all show a spur. ? is spur removable?

The spur is horizontal or slightly up-angled

The spur extends slightly beyond the tip of the bow. Sorry, Steven, I think your spur is much too ithyphallic.:rolleyes:

A stout rope or chain extends from stem to spur.

Dick, I was in fact making my spur considerably shorter, then was brought up short (sorry!) by the following from Age of the Dromon (p203):

 

"A contract for the sale of two spurs made of oak (robor), each 10.42 metres long and 0.25 metres wide survives from Genoa in 1267."

 

To me, a written contract is much more reliable information than mediaeval pictures, which unfortunately often used a lot of artistic licence. Western galleys of the 13th century were about a third larger than Byzantine dromons and Prof Pryor has evidently used the relative proportions of the two kinds of vessel to reduce the spur in his dromon reconstruction from over 10 metres to only seven. I really feel I can't go any smaller than that, ithyphallic though it may seem (my spur's bigger than yours!).

 

Looking at the pictures in my posts of August 3 and 4 above, I believe (in those pictures where it's shown at all) the support for the spur seems to be either a heavy cable (shown as two ropes twisted together) or, in other pictures, gammoning such as used on later bowsprits. Do you have any pictures showing a chain? Prof Pryor mentions it as a possibility, but I haven't seen any pictures which look enough like chains for me to think so.

 

Pat, there's no mention of the spur being able to be removed at a moment's notice - or otherwise. Personally, I believe that once installed they would be permanent, if only because surprise attacks did occur - in fact if I recall correctly, the Byzantines lost at least one fleet that way.

 

But there's so little information about such things; All I know of is the quote above and the following two passages.

 

" . . . in the inventory for the Cretan expedition of 949, amongst the equipment to be supplied by the Department of the Vestiarion basilikon [Imperial Household] for 20 dromons, was specified: “20 peronia for the kataprosopa together with their katakorakes”  . . .

 

Peronion (pl. peronia) was a diminutive of, or a derivative synonym for, perone, which could mean a pin, or brooch, or buckle. It had many other senses in mechanical engineering, and was derived from peronao, “pierce” or “transfix”. Since only one of these peronia was to be supplied for each dromon, they must therefore have been major pieces of equipment and not pins, or bolts, or buckles.

 

However, peronion in the sense of something that pierces has the right sense for a spur and speronus, one of the two medieval Latin words for the spur, was almost certainly derived from it. Surely peronia were the dromons’ spurs.

 

The specification was that there should be 20 peronia, “for the kataprosopa, together with their katakorakes”. Prosopon had the sense of the front, facade, or face of anything, in particular of a ship, and one of the senses of korax was anything hooked for grappling or holding something. Reading the “kata” prefixes simply in their strengthening sense, we suggest that the real meaning of this specification was: “Twenty spurs for the faces [of the bows], together with their couplings”. Peronion was probably the Byzantine word for the spur and katakorax that for the coupling to the head of the stempost. (Age of The Dromon p207):

 

Imagine 900 years from now trying to work out what a sheet, a tack and a brace were, based only on a list of equipment supplied to a fleet in the 18th century - that's how difficult the task is.

 

Also from Age of The Dromon (p203)

"In late antiquity and the Middle Ages spurs were not built as integral parts of the hull, as they were in the Renaissance. Contractsfor the construction of galleys for Charles I of Anjou, King of Sicily, specified neither the provision of spurs nor their dimensions, indicating that the contractors did not have to build them into the galleys."

 

And that's all the information we have, and we should probably be grateful even to have that. There's so little data that we are forced to speculate and fill in the gaps with educated guesses. The reason I keep going on about Age of the Dromon is that it has collected in one place all the information available on dromons up to the 2006 date of publication, and I believe the reconstruction in the book is as close as we're likely to get, qualified only by the Yenikapi finds and possible future finds in the Black Sea.

 

Steven

 

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18 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

Do you have any pictures showing a chain?

Steven I believe this left hand galea from catalonia-aragon 14th c. has a chain on the spur. The one on the right seems to have rope gammoning

http://www.museunacional.cat/en/colleccio/coffered-ceiling-panel-knights-galleys-and-boat-high-gunwale/anonim-arago/015839-000

 

Dick

Edited by woodrat

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Thanks for that, Dick. I had a copy of it (it's in my post of 3 August), but not in glorious colour like this one!

 

I agree about the support on the right, but it's a bit hard to be sure exactly what the one on the left is made of. I'd interpreted it as a stylised representation of a heavy cable, taking the double twisted line as representing two strands, but perhaps they are supposed to be the links in a chain. If it is a chain, presumably the ones in the Vergil Aenid picture would be as well.

 

Still trying to tie down details . . . 

 

Steven

 

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19 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

it's a bit hard to be sure exactly what the one on the left is made of. I'd interpreted it as a stylised representation of a heavy cable, taking the double twisted line as representing two strands, but perhaps they are supposed to be the links in a chain. If it is a chain, presumably the ones in the Vergil Aenid picture would be as well.

I have had another look at the Catalonian pic. With magnification I think I can see a hook at the end of the "chain". In the Aeneid Vatican pic, I am convinced (pun) that a chain is shown.

Dick

Edited by woodrat

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Yes, it might be - you mean at the lower end of the "chain"? And there's something a bit hook-like at the lower end of the gammoning, as well.

 

Also, notice the guy in the bows of that galley is holding something like a halberd - it's almost certainly a "sickle" designed to cut the rigging of the opposing ship, something which was apparently common practice in maritime combat at the time.

 

By the way, that picture is dated in the source I was using as late 13th century. Looking at the artistic style, if it is 14th, it's very early in the century. So, late 13th, early 14th, I'd say.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Started plating the spur. After some thought I believe they would have used bronze (or as the archaeologists say nowadays, copper alloy) as it's easier to work into thin plates with the technology available at the time than iron, and the thinner (and thus lighter) the plates the better - they don't have to be strong, just cut the effects of flame for a short time to protect the timber underneath.

 

I used foil taken from our cast-off tins of cat food (the tin itself, not the lid, which unfortunately has an embossed pattern). It's thin enough to emboss easily but strong enough to maintain its shape. The cat doesn't seem to mind.

 

1808996852_catbox.thumb.jpg.da3cd7401d13972c8449f1e1e942ce24.jpg

Here are the plates for the bottom of the spur, with simulated nails to hold them in place. I noticed from another thread that coppering on a full-size ship's bottom is actually a little indented where the nails are, so I've done it this way on my spur. Each plate is about 1 metre (3 feet) long in scale, but I've made units containing several plates each, embossed to look like separate plates overlapping each other. I'll paint them to resemble weathered bronze when all the plating is done, and make an "iron" point for the business end - haven't yet decided how I'll do that.

 

1434565985_spurplatingapart.thumb.jpg.b6d1570055f7b954efba405853305ae3.jpg 87265728_spurplatingpartlyon.thumb.jpg.8043f48aaf0a2eaac87079e085570e4d.jpg

1715246785_spurbottomplate.thumb.jpg.b00ee93bdc14053f25ea7b915fc6c505.jpg

And for the starboard side. At this magnification they don't look as tidy as they do to the naked eye. Maybe if I'd taken more time I could have got them more precise, but from the archaeology on the Yenikapi finds it seems the Byzantine shipwrights weren't all that precise themselves. 

 

2010972119_spursideplate.thumb.jpg.78dcefb6b26e8ab92dd0e86331a624b5.jpg 1295359906_spursideplatenailed.thumb.jpg.a03390cf74363837d0b5bfef27218435.jpg

973846876_spur2sidesplated.thumb.jpg.239a9e831d778261a0e64715a2bd0e5b.jpg

Two sides covered. Two more to go. The brass escutcheon pin which was to locate the spur into the hull was rather too short to be secure, so I've replaced it with a longer piece - the shank from a pop rivet. 

 

This is fiddly work and I need a break every now and then, so I've started on the deck beams. They are 1mm thick and 2mm deep (equivalent to 50mm (2") thick and 100mm (4") deep. I got the curve template from Wolfram Zu Mondfeld's excellent book Historic Ship Models.

 

175336933_deckbeamA.thumb.jpg.c5f0347a6b5b86359bd267fa0402d84d.jpg

 

To get the deck to run smoothly, I've made beams at intervals about 4-5 beams apart and will then add the intermediate beams to follow the curve outlined by these major beams. Still in progress, and rather more complicated than I'd thought - I've discovered the hard way that the curve has to be measured either side from the centre of the beam, not from one end, and that the top of the beam has to be the same distance above the beam shelf at each end. And as each of the beams is a different length, that means each has to be made individually - no mass production shortcuts, dammit! Still, it's all a learning process, isn't it? 

 

1519585088_deckbeams1.thumb.jpg.dcdc705301ebfe4aef4b0f54ed738176.jpg

Steven

  

Edited by Louie da fly

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Thanks for the likes.

 

Druxey, there's no Byzantine ships been found with deck beams intact, so nobody knows for sure. I'm just going by Zu Mondfeld, as I have no other information to work off.

 

So, I'm right in thinking the deck beams are all arcs of the same big circle, not that the vertical distance from the gunwale to midships is the same for all of them (which would mean a very pronounced curve where the deck is narrow)?

 

Steven 

Edited by Louie da fly

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That's what I thought, and that's what I've done. But I think I started out a bit wrongheadedly, and I've since rationalised my way of doing things to produce the same result more simply and with less effort.

 

Steven

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Here's the dromon with masts and spur dry-fitted and deck-beams glued in to form the line of the deck, at intervals of about 4-5 beams apart. When they're all in place, there will be a deck beam for every two frames - so there'll be something like 52 of them, and in full scale they'll be 0.48 metre (approx 18") apart, or (where the oars are) two per oarbench. This ties in with the known intervals of 13th century Sicilian galley deck beams.

 

583711171_bowview.thumb.jpg.ac28deecae703f8246de30f70c86a498.jpg  
 

In the close-up picture you can see the very slight upward curve of the deck beams.

detail.thumb.jpg.81122d5ab6e85edaa459da9498f89863.jpg

 

As I mentioned above they'll be approx 100mm deep in full scale. I'd have liked to make them deeper, but there are serious issues with headroom for the lower oarsmen vs the overall height of the vessel above the waterline and even more importantly the height of the upper bank of oarports above water level. The higher the oarports the steeper the angle of the oars and the harder it is for the upper oarsmen to row. As it is, the lower oarsmen will have just enough room not to bump their heads as they row. Though for this depth of deck-beam there should be fore-and-aft support beams held up by columns at intervals,  I won't be putting them in  - just too much complication for something that will never be seen. 

 

I've also put in the cross-beams for the rudder structure now, to keep from possible interference later on when it's too late to fix.

234057160_sternview.thumb.jpg.5a9d2050bf3986e733cfe6cfa31ae802.jpg

She's starting to look like a real ship! 

 

422557140_sideview.thumb.jpg.5e87f42eb04cdae9800da1476709451f.jpgSteven 

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She already was looking like a fine vessel, Steven. She's getting finer, and finer looking though.

 

For head room ... it depends on the entrance/exit points of the oars, compared to the relative hight of men during that time, which was something like a smallish Italian I would gether - taking the region in consideration to - and luxury was not an issue, only the captain had that if there was any aboard ...

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Mark and Carl, thanks for the kind comments.

 

The space allowance was based on crewmen about 1.67 metres tall (= 5'6" in the old money). This may or may not be a little taller than they were in the day, but I think it should be close enough and allows for someone a little taller than the average of the time.

 

On the other hand the Varangian bodyguard is 1.80 metres (about 5'11") tall - as the Arab traveller and chronicler Ibn Fadlan wrote: "Tall as date palms". For Vikings and Anglo-Saxons of the same period the average height was 1.72 metres (5'8") though according to archaeology it's "not uncommon" for them to have been over 6 feet tall. 

 

I allowed for the top of the lower oarbenches to be 450mm (18") above the top of the keel, and the head of the"standard" oarsman to be about 830mm (2'9") above the seat. This then allows for 32mm (1.25 inches) headroom when the oarsman is sitting bolt upright. Not very much, but hopefully enough.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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6 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

then allows for 32mm (1.25 inches) headroom when the oarsman is sitting bolt upright. Not very much, but hopefully enough.

I would say: "Plenty space"

2cm would do fine too ... as long as they won't crash their scul ...

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Doing a test fitting - mainly to work out how long the yards are in relation to the hull to see where to put the supports for the yards when they aren't in use, but also to get an idea of how she'll look when they're rigged.These are just bits of wood - I've yet to make the yards themselves.

yards.thumb.jpg.3f3fbd6ebae27136e8aba620cb04d4be.jpg

It's a little known fact that the yards of Byzantine ships were fixed to the masts with large rubber bands 😁.

 

On a more serious note, I will shortly need to locate the companionway which leads below decks, and I really have no idea how big to make it. Can anyone advise me of the usual size of the opening in the deck for a companionway, and the size and angle of the ladder leading belowdecks? I realise there are no available comparisons of similar ships, but I should think the size of opening and angle of the ladder wouldn't change that much over the centuries.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Again, too little available information, Carl. I can't think of any ship of that period and type in the archaeological record where the deck is preserved with the opening for the companionway intact.

 

But as I mentioned, I think any sailing ship, even from the 18th century, is likely to have had pretty much the same arrangement and would work as a model for mine. Perhaps a chebec would be appropriate? Or perhaps a renaissance galley - but there's only one genuine one in existence as far as I'm aware, the Sultan's kadirga in Istanbul.

 

Steven

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I've been twice already and didn't get to see the kadirga either time (sigh). But at that time I wouldn't have appreciated it anyway - I was interested in other things. And I don't think they'd let me climb up onto her.

 

Steven

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