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Louie da fly

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

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for all the likes. And thanks to Christos and to Binho.

 

Christos, there are so many possible interpretations of what a dromon would have looked like based on the rather limited information available from contemporary documents (usually only mentioning dromons in passing) and pictures (usually grossly oversimplified), and the archaeological record. I still think Pryor's is the best interpretation based on the information available at the time he published and my model is mainly based on that, but with changes based on the Yenikapi finds plus some from my own interpretations of the pictorial record and also practicality.

 

Binho, that's an AMAZING site and it probably answers every question I've had. To be honest, I think this information would be an eye-opener to most people (with a few notable exceptions) on this forum. Lateen rig is rather the poor relation in modelling compared to square, and this site is a real resource. The other thing is that it contains some very good pictures of the vessels themselves - a very worthwhile resource for anyone interested in this kind of craft.

 

Thanks very much for posting this site. It's going straight to the pool room (Aussie joke - if you've ever seen the movie The Castle). 

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Unfortunately I haven't seen The Castle :) Glad the site might be useful! I've been procrastinating and looking through his Asia and Africa galleries, and found some dhows for you too. Appears to be the same concept as the Italian and Spanish ones, but slightly larger ships.

 

Red Sea Sambuk calcet and truss: https://www.cherini.eu/etnografia/AF/slides/af_0077.html

Dhow calcet and truss - interesting that it has a counterweight: https://www.cherini.eu/etnografia/AS/slides/As_0017.html

Omani dhow, with interesting parrel: https://www.cherini.eu/etnografia/AS/slides/As_0018.html

Persian Gulf two masted Baghla: https://www.cherini.eu/etnografia/AS/slides/As_0045.html

Sambuk main mast rigging plan: https://www.cherini.eu/etnografia/AS/slides/As_0062.html

 

Man, so much good stuff here! Should get back to doing what I should actually be doing, lol. Looking forward to your next dromon update!

 

Alberto

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Thanks Alberto. I've seen that counterweight on dhow photos and wondered what it was. Another mystery cleared up. All this info should give me a good basis for the rigging for my own dromon. 

 

Steven

 

PS: The Castle is really worth seeing if you ever get a chance to get hold of it. See https://www.google.com/search?q=the+castle+movie&rlz=1C1NHXL_enAU770AU770&oq=the+castle+&aqs=chrome.5.69i57j69i65j69i61j0l3.5590j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 for some highlights.

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Posted (edited)

I've painted the "heat shield" at the front of the forecastle to look like bronze plating, and covered the lion's head with gold leaf, in line with the description in the Alexiad. The photos don't really give a good impression of just how shiny it is.

 

Just starting out:

20190408_213800.thumb.jpg.66bfeae5bc6cfa62c7c4a59e98d5d9cf.jpg

And completed:

20190409_091227.thumb.jpg.0b3edeaf48aa4b3c182f12d00e8f6007.jpg 20190409_091232.thumb.jpg.3d2d307678068ee898ad5422c65ca176.jpg

A lot of very fiddly work and a certain amount of cursing. But I feel more confident now that I can put gold leaf on things fairly well. Still a lot to learn but not quite as terrified of getting it wrong as I was before.

 

Steven

 

 

Edited by Louie da fly

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Posted (edited)

That's right, Carl. A very small brush indeed. Usually used for fine detail work. And after the glue was dry (I used dilute PVA) I buffed the exposed surfaces with the end of my finger.

 

Here is perhaps a better idea of what the lion's head will look like when it's in place:

 

20190409_142336.thumb.jpg.1432839dee7f8ea8a55830c9f8bee787.jpg  20190409_142351.thumb.jpg.c73000e4a5b7e10b1e5c2fce25a6928a.jpg

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Steven, I am at about the same point with my round ship. That is, working out masting, associated tackle and deck furniture/machinery. There is very little contemporary help and the Black Sea is keeping its secrets for the nonce. However, there are some illustrations 12th and 13th century which show the halyard block and tackle heading obliquely at about 60 degrees back to the lower halyard block which is just in front of the poop or steersman . This is analogous to the way it is done in dhows. The halyard tackle was more vertical in carracks and cogs. I would be cautious using 19th century lateen rig as a model. I believe the pulleys in the "calcet" should point fore and aft so the yard can fall forward away from the mast (pole mast or built?)

 

 

1272151946_Giotto_di_Bondone_-_Navicella_02.JPG.9205d66ed519d95b71d95bbeaf3569be.JPG778455716_LorenzoVenezianoMiracleofStNicholas02.JPG.c000cec915324b2402886cc3557bee6f.JPG

Dick 

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3 minutes ago, woodrat said:

I believe the pulleys in the "calcet" should point fore and aft so the yard can fall forward away from the mast (pole mast or built?)

Dick, I'm inclining the same way. My masts are simple poles, as I haven't seen anything in contemporary Byzantine pictures to suggest they were built-up (not that this is any kind of proof - but it's all I've got to go on). By the way, I hadn't previously noticed that the mast in the left hand picture in your post seems to be made out of a barber's pole!

 

6 minutes ago, woodrat said:

I would be cautious using 19th century lateen rig as a model.

Again, I agree. However, though the dhows are 19th century I think there's a fair chance they are "traditional" and have changed less than Western European examples. And I'll be using the simplest and arguably most "primitive" examples as a model to work from, on the basis that they're likely to be closer to mediaeval practice than any others.

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Masterful in reasoning and execution, Steven. After Gibbon's hatchet job on the later Roman Empire, it's work like yours -complete with exquisite period details - that helps us 'rehabilitate' the ERE. Congratulations.

 

Now for something -anything -more somewhere on how their mortal foes the Sasanid Shahs did it all of this - there's so little info in the west!

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Working on the windlass, using the Mary Rose's windlass as a model - it's the earliest intact windlass I know of. If anyone knows of one closer to the 11th century, please let me know. I still have a problem with this windlass - there is no pawl, so I don't know how to keep the windlass from unwinding if the bars are released - perhaps the cable was just made fast to bitts or cleats or something when it was pulled up far enough.

1935816669_MaryRosewindlass.JPG.3a63525e2273b559ffa50b9e58bc7443.JPG

 

I recycled a mast which had bowed and had to be discarded, and cut a bit off it to make the barrel of the windlass.

20190427_124202.thumb.jpg.91e95d78fdcfeaf4f0eaf377b74c266d.jpg 20190427_124228.thumb.jpg.6c144fd9a708c91d1b1301ef37585b9d.jpg

 

I started out using a bit of branch from a plum tree I'd been holding on to for years, as it's got a join between the branch and a lesser branch, which should give a good grain for making knees.

20190428_135603.thumb.jpg.3d4771791b238352620e14c5a6fd4424.jpg

I cut four slices from it,  photocopied the Mary Rose windlass down to scale and glued four L-shaped segments for the two ends (two for each end) onto them.

20190428_151850.thumb.jpg.781e06c23897c81984a7c5bf8e6f74ca.jpg

But it turned out I'd cut two of the pieces too thin. As I only had one piece of wood, I thought I'd wasted my efforts. Then I realised the piece of wood actually had a T-shaped grain, so I could make each of the ends in a single piece and carve a fake join between the two "halves". 

20190428_153123.thumb.jpg.d0a0e15c31c0c4ae4ec664286f29ed41.jpg 20190428_173259.thumb.jpg.2b2c06472f703cc7a61682e68ea3bb6c.jpg 20190428_184433.thumb.jpg.72691df5c3efba5760dfd5f7190c4e81.jpg

20190428_194235.thumb.jpg.178fa99300bf182d02874ce806ce25f6.jpg

Unfortunately, this meant the grain pattern in the two end pieces was continuous instead of being in two halves. But I think I can live with that - if all else fails, I'll paint the ends to hide the grain.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Remarkable. An amazing thread to be sure. I'm getting emotional! ; )

 

I realise this topic could (or could not) be someway away but I am keen to see your choice of 'standard bearing' devices, such as flags, banners, colour of the sail and similar. We all know that later Rome more or less rejected what the West calls heraldry, but some of the later Emperors used their famous familial 'crests' (example: Theodoros Laskaris' dark two headed eagle on a yellow background) but on naval vessels, I am unsure. Perhaps Orthodox ikon imagery. It'll be interesting to find out if you make any given choice, at your discretion. Its certainly a confusing topic.

 

(Btw red-hued (murex etc) sails for 'admiral or "nobilty" aboard' is something I am very unsure about but has been mentioned elsewhere.)

 

Salut

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Thanks for all the likes.

 

Nikiphoros, the 12th century illustrated copy of the Synopsis Historion by Ioannis Skylitzes held in the Madrid Biblioteca Nacional has quite a few pics of galleys with banners. I'll be following this one, as it's a ship carrying the Emperor.

 

918826090_Blowinghair.jpg.028270de6e6e3828ff77e3466abefe0a.jpg

The Lascaris double-headed eagle and the banner with the repeated letter B (as on your post, but in red and yellow) didn't come into use until a couple of centuries later. As far as I know, the sail would have simply been the natural colour - certainly there's no evidence to suggest anything else. And murex would have been prohibitively expensive  - though several surviving pieces of Byzantine fabric in "Imperial purple" turn out to have been dyed with madder red and woad blue to make purple.

 

Steven 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Steven. You already decided. (Our 'hellenic' paradox Laskaris friend was an example). Aaand... there it is again; we see the red blue combination "E-streamers' (you see it on depictions of Imperial thrones on occasion) displayed in your chosen image. Interesting; will try to collect as many examples as I can of this phenomenon as I hadn't seen this image before. (Its even illustrated in modern graphical design depictions, including below, with true artistic license. I hope Fokas' siege image is somehow helpful too)

 

Sincere apologies for side-tracking your train of thought in your project. But the Imperator should have something visible. From any distance (and any decoy when present). But what? This may be irrelevant to your project, of course.

 

Have a fruitful week, Steven  : )

 

 

1280px-Byzantines_under_Nikephoros_Phokas_besiege_Chandax.png

7853.jpg

 

basil-ii.jpg

Edited by Nikiforos
Clarity

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Posted (edited)

Thanks, Nikiphoros. I believe the big complex banner probably is the sign that "the Basileus is here".

 

There has been considerable study on Byzantine banners, including a very comprehensive paper by Andrea Babuin which I should have somewhere unless I've lost it. The Synopsis Historion (also popularly known as the Skylitzes Chronicle) which can be accessed in full at http://bdh-rd.bne.es/viewer.vm?pid=d-1754254 contains quite a number of banners. Then there's the sea battle (Navmakhia) from the 11th century Cynegetica of Pseudo-Oppian, though I must say those aren't very interesting banners - I think I can do better than that.

 

post-1425-0-19804700-1462076264_thumb.jpg

 

Don't apologise for introducing the idea of banners. It's one of the things I've definitely been intending to put on the ship. According the Prof Pryor's book Age of the Dromon, the contemporary records describe something at the top of the mast (the word isn't otherwise known) which he thinks must be a flagpole. I think there's only one "flagpole" on the ship in my previous post, and that the other banners are attached to the ends of spears.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Steven, thank you for the link; worth the 1.2 Gb download : )

 

I believe whatever we do, we have to move away from -and ignore- the idea of 'heraldry' and (neon purple!) national flags as per recent popular video games and the like; honestly I don't think you capable of such a crime : ) Sound knowledge may become further vital, if for example, a certain World Heritage museum beyond value becomes a singular place of worship, as is threatened again. (I wonder what a 'Third Rome' would make of this transformation?)

 

Passions aside, I thank you for your fastidious studies. Looking forward to your next installment.

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Posted (edited)

I don't have any experience with these video games - which is probably a good thing. And certainly, the idea of "heraldry" in the western sense seems to have been alien to the Romaioi before 1204, and even after that it was only sporadically followed.

 

But now that you mention purple

Musées de Bourgogne A piece of silk decorated with eagles' a frequent motif in Byzantine art, however, its quality makes it one of the most beautiful cloths from the workshops of Constantinople around the year 1000. t is likely it was used for one of the translations of the body in the 11th century. Since the Revolution it has been kept in the Church of St. Eusebius in Auxerre. Now 2.36m long, it should have been originally much larger.

 

this is a Byzantine fabric from about 1000 AD. It's from the shroud of St Germain and is in purple silk with gold (single-headed) eagles. If I were to put an eagle banner on the ship this is what I'd use as a model to base it on. If I recall correctly, this is one of those purple fabrics I mentioned dyed with madder and woad, not murex (much cheaper).

 

As the dromon has two masts, perhaps there's room for two banners. However I'm in two minds about it because there are no contemporary pictures of ships flying banners anything like as complex and sophisticated as this.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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I think a secure source of the murex snail industry might have been demanded by any Emperor worth his salt, if you'll forgive the pun, much like the tiny sources of Porphyry (Sinai) were intensely guarded or coveted. Lesser 'tyrian' was the posession of lesser Romans, I think. But maybe the sultans closed off those sources as political acts in the period of your dromon -- but Islam was always the traders' friend at least, unlike Mazdayasnan Iran in earlier times (see Fourth Estate) for example.

 

As for a banner -- suggestion: an 'E-streamer' of red, blue, red, blue, red (or suchlike) at the main mast as seen multiple times in your linked document. Perhaps the swiss-style cross at the hoist of it. 

 

Btw. Look! Neon purple pronoia!

 

pronoia_infantry_info.png

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Nikiforos said:

But maybe the sultans closed off those sources as political acts in the period of your dromon -- but Islam was always the traders' friend at least,

I haven't heard of them doing so. But murex purple was always a rare commodity, and I believe the Emperors wouldn't have used it for prosaic things like sails (and saddle-cloths for Imperial horses), when blue and red dye could make a perfectly acceptable purple. For their own clothing, well . . . that would be a different matter entirely.

 

21 minutes ago, Nikiforos said:

As for a banner -- suggestion: an 'E-streamer' of red, blue, red, blue, red (or suchlike) at the main mast as seen multiple times in your linked document. Perhaps the swiss-style cross at the hoist of it. 

Yes, that's the kind of thing I had in mind. There are several crosses used by the Romaioi, for example the red flag at the top of this picture 

1920px-The_body_of_Leo_V_is_dragged_to_the_Hippodrome_through_the_Skyla_Gate.jpg

has either a cross potent

image.png.9c8b07b7a785019d3da202c8ed35cde6.png

or moline

image.png.7e20bd699ed5c84e8880cba5fa30d699.png

- it's a bit hard to see which it is. And I may indeed include a cross in the banner. Rather like the one here ;

 

Byzantine emperor Theophilus (829 - 842 AD), on horseback. Chronicle of John Skylitzes 13th Century (Public Domain)

 

21 minutes ago, Nikiforos said:

Btw. Look! Neon purple pronoia!

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear . . .

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Hm, that last. I see Iberian or saintly Knights of Aviz or similar. But I've seen it represent 'The Morea' in very strange places too. Otherwise, your choice looks to be absolutely ... Roman. : ) (High praise).

 

 

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On 4/28/2019 at 12:39 PM, Louie da fly said:

so I don't know how to keep the windlass from unwinding if the bars are released

 

Perhaps if you reverse the windlass easy leaving the bars in the sockets until one of the bars touches the deck (or use a shorter one in that place to have less bending) it would do the trick.

 

Continuing to enjoy your building and research

 

Zeh

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On 4/28/2019 at 9:39 PM, Louie da fly said:

I don't know how to keep the windlass from unwinding if the bars are released

Hi Steven,

 

if you're concerned that a stop mechanism might not have been developed at that point in time, I don't think it's a technical problem not to have one. You use the windlass to take up the line & then tie off to a stout fixing point, the windlass is not used for holding load under anchor. Boats with heavy anchors usually have a way to manoeuvre the anchor on board once they are close, simply because it's easier (& less damage) than dragging the anchor up against the hull - such as a rope tackle & hook led from the mast. 

 

 

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They also probably used the windlass for the spars? If so having the windlass free from the anchor rope is a good idea.  You have a great level of research for period-correct detail in this build Steven.

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Posted (edited)

I'd never heard of the knights of Aviz. So I looked them up. Though their cross is similar to a cross moline, it's actually a cross flory/fleury - it has fleurs de lys (with an additional central "spike") at the ends. 

 

image.png.f4933c36bfbc1b0e7d50063804acb9ff.png

 

By the way the so-called "Maltese" Cross associated with the crusading Knights of St John, was used by the Byzantines and dates back to at least 200 years before the crusades. I took this photo in a 9th century (Byzantine) monastery in the Goreme valley in Kappadokia.

1598523895_MalteseCrossKappadokia.thumb.jpg.42cc3a1225cadebe9125f8ba0d460580.jpg

Steven

 

 

 

Edited by Louie da fly

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the likes and for the advice. I think I've been worrying too much - from the posts above, the lack of a pawl isn't a major issue after all.

 

Nikiphoros, I looked up the Morea's heraldry and you're right - unlike the knights of Aviz, the Morea's cross (under Geoffrey de Villehardoin, the Frankish chronicler of the Fourth Crusade) is a cross moline.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Steven, just grabbed a copy of Byzantium: Treasures of Byzantine Art and Culture from British Collections

  • ISBN-10: 071410566X

that accompanied an Exhibition at some point.

 

Scanning through for the first time, in a particular section it is thought that crosses of a particular style were considered this or that level of 'unacceptable' due to its role in crucifixion. However, the essay ss at first in a subsection of the study of earlier ERE. If there's anything similar in the later sections, I'll bring it to your attention, hopefully using a proper desktop computer, for Pete's sake \o/

 

Regardless, general perception could be important to you; for better or worse you might decide some variations seem too Latin for your dromon. Apologies for any presumption.

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Agreed. I think I'd stick to simple crosses - perhaps going as far as a cross potent - but certainly not "Maltese", flory or moline, for fear of their "Latinness" confusing the issue. But even the potent cross is on the coat of arms of the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem . . .

 

Steven 

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