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Louie da fly

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

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Just an ignorant's question: Why would they use a chain, it makes it even more cumbersome to haul the anchor. Ships in the age of sail used rope, and even then it needed e.g. a windlass to haul the anchor ...

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The anchors would have been very light (between 47 and 67 kg or 85-130 pounds for the Serce Limani anchors) for a ship 30 metres (90 feet) long. Though the chain would have added to the weight, it would still have been fairly manageable using a windlass. Though I have to say based on the linguistic evidence I'm leaning more and more to the idea the entire anchor cable was made of rope.

 

By the way, the broken anchor on the Serce Limani ship looked like this:

 image.png.0b2ce45bf530fdb1c2d3cad3bcb54e3e.png

 

If the other anchors hadn't had a chance to bite before this one broke, it's no wonder she was wrecked.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Steven have a look at what I found in one of my greek books. Its an artistic interpretation of a  wreck in Serce Limani found 1973 from INA of Texas A&M University. According to the author Dr Damianides, it was a small comercial ship of the 11th century  15 m long. 20% of that ship was recovered. Look the anchor... its the iron anchor you have already prepared and it seems to have a rope. 

 

I dont know how much of use is that to you. I though it want hurt posting it to you.

20200117_180244.jpg

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13 hours ago, MESSIS said:

Its an artistic interpretation of a  wreck in Serce Limani found 1973 from INA of Texas A&M University. According to the author Dr Damianides, it was a small comercial ship of the 11th century  15 m long. 20% of that ship was recovered. Look the anchor... its the iron anchor you have already prepared and it seems to have a rope. 

 

That's the  very same ship! The anchors I have made are based on the ones from that wreck. The only question is - are the anchors from a small commercial ship appropriate to a dromon of the same century? (I've assumed they are, but I could be wrong.)

 

The archaeological report on the Serce Limani anchors goes into considerable detail (pages 219-220) to show that the anchors were of standardised dimensions, both in the length of the shank:

image.png.3f6844f645932f6be5cde64def6918eb.png

. . . .

image.png.5d7ae12aa76120a354c565421318ee04.png

 

and of arms:

 

image.png.a2ae6a7de2941ccd03ef0db97b06afa6.png

 

and that anchors were of standardised weights:

image.png.a68e32227138dd466969ca0fad039fb0.png

image.png.f211c8e65647148047998e51627f314c.png

image.png.de7987281e9e3010a51e0120d0bd11b3.png

The units above are (Christos, please correct me if I'm wrong) βασιλικη σπιθαμαι (basiliki spithamai = Imperial spans) δακτυλοί (daktyloi = fingers/inches), ποδης (podes = feet), λίτραί (litrai = ?), παλαιστρη (palaistrai = ?), 

 

My only problem now is that the weights above seem to conflict with what I've noted earlier for anchor weights; I need to look over the report again and see if I can reconcile the two.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly
Added extra info re standardised sizes and weights

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Okay; a 1 hundredweight anchor (112 pounds) is almost exactly 50 kg. One and a half hundredweight is 76 kg, one and 3/4 hundredweight is 89 kg and 2 hundredweight is 101 kg. A hundredweight can be lifted without too much trouble by someone who is strong and fit, and for people accustomed to heavy loads an anchor of that weight wouldn't be a problem.

 

Two men (or perhaps only one) could lift an anchor twice that heavy. For some basis of comparison see Olympic weightlifting records at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Olympic_records_in_weightlifting - how relevant this is to mediaeval sailors I'm not sure - weightlifting isn't my forte).

 

How effective an anchor of this weight would be in holding a dromon at its mooring is anybody's guess, but I'd assume several would be needed. On the other hand, it was customary for galleys to be pulled up on shore (backwards) overnight, so I'm not sure how much use anchors got. And for holding ground in a storm, well . . . galleys were very easily swamped at the best of times, so I don't know how much use the anchors would have been.

 

Further and further into the unknown . . .

 

Steven

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9 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

That's the  very same ship! The anchors I have made are based on the ones from that wreck. The only question is - are the anchors from a small commercial ship appropriate to a dromon of the same century?

Now I get your point! That wasthe catch all the time! Tough... really tough. And Dr Damianides writes -as you already  know- no anchors and no rigging was found in most wrecks because they were sunk on purpose! So your issue seems to remain unsolved deu to lack on hard evidence.

 

You are right..."further and further into the unknown".

Quote

The units above are (Christos, please correct me if I'm wrong) βασιλικη σπιθαμαι (basiliki spithamai = Imperial spans) δακτυλοί (daktyloi = fingers/inches), ποδης (podes = feet), λίτραί (litrai = ?), παλαιστρη (palaistrai = ?), 

 

 

Steven

Yes correct indeed!

Edited by MESSIS

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Παλαστή, παλαιστρή, palaistra/ai= 74.8 mm (ancient greek -equals 4 daktyloi/ δακτυλοι). It was also called δώρον. Its an anthropometric unit, it refers to the hand span (the small one), the palm... still its not the open one, the big one, as spithami.

 

 

σπιθαμή/αι spithami/ai equals 18cm its an anthropometric unit again... it refers to the open span, the big one, see picture below.

 

We still use today the word σπιθαμή... its a modern greek word... of course we use it arbitrary... its not a measurement unit  anymore, either the imperial unit system, we have the MKS since 1960 as we had stopped being a British  Crown Colony.

 

If you need anything on the ancient greek units just tell me... its been a long time since I was having ancient greek in gymnasium, but my wife keeps still  my son's school books ( he is 31 now) lol lol.

Handspanne.png

Edited by MESSIS

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22 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

How effective an anchor of this weight would be in holding a dromon at its mooring is anybody's guess, but I'd assume several would be needed. On the other hand, it was customary for galleys to be pulled up on shore (backwards) overnight, so I'm not sure how much use anchors got. And for holding ground in a storm, well . . . galleys were very easily swamped at the best of times, so I don't know how much use the anchors would have been.

 

It would be logical (to me anyway) that after pulling them up on shore, they might run the anchors from the stern further up the beach just in case of tide and waves.

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Makes sense - though isn't the Mediterranean tideless?:)

 

However, Mediterranean storms can be very fierce and unpredictable - anchors fixed into the beach would help guard against them.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Steven, I have mentioned it again. This is a post stamp edition from the Greek post office, of model ships, by E.Grypiotes. 

 

There is  a Δρόμων which the historical authenticity is much doubted... still look how he describes in his list the anchor, item nr8.  It has a rope, where in an another of his models (of a previous historical time), a Hellinistic πολυήρης of the 4th century, has a chain.

 

There is also a text, describing among other things the anchors, making a reference of Constantinus Porfyrogenitus script. Talking about the rope which held them (the anchors), of which there is also English text given in the book it self.

20200119_085213.jpg

20200119_085349.jpg

20200119_091925.jpg

Edited by MESSIS

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Yes, Christos. The more I read and the more I think about it, the more I think you're right and that I should be using rope rather than chain.

 

The fact that the word "iron" (sidero-) in schoinia siderobola is part of the combined word "siderobola" rather than standing by itself or being combined with "rope" (schoinia) indicates to me that it's not the rope that's made of iron, but the thing which is thrown - the anchor. So perhaps it should better be translated as "iron (anchor)-throwing rope", or just "anchor cable".

 

Speaking of throwing-irons, here they are painted matt black so they look like iron instead of brass.

20200115_154354.thumb.jpg.c76c72fc31d9118de6f70bb470058a85.jpg

I think they look pretty good.:)

 

Steven

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Thanks for the likes and the encouraging comments (though what I see when I look at these anchors is the bits I got wrong . . .):default_wallbash:

 

The next thing to make for the anchors is the wooden stocks. One is already done - 4 more to make.

 

Steven

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Just a short comment about using iron chains for anchors (though I know I am late): Up to the nineteenth century metallurgic knowledge did not come much farther than mixing ores from various origins: tough metal from Sweden, hard from Spain, all depending of the percentage of carbon. These mixes were always a result of trial and error. Because of that every iron object was tested first: Anchors were dropped on a stone or on an old cannon and if it bended or cracked, it was rejected. Coats of arm were literally shot at with muskets. We had therm in our collection, a dent was proof that the object had passed the test. A chain is as strong as its weakest link. With the knowledge our craftsmen had in those days chains for anchors were more than a risk. One weak link was enough.

Stay with rope, please.

Edited by Ab Hoving

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Ab's comment is exactly  behind the reason I queried the use of chain in the first place. Metallurgy until fairly recently was a less than perfect art. The reference to 'proof marks' on suits of armour reminded me of when I was a kid. I thought those dents on the breastplates were accidental.

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On the other hand, the making of chains was certainly not beyond Byzantine technology. The entrance to the Golden Horn harbour in Constantinople was closed by a massive chain to keep enemy ships from entering. The chain was on a roller and could be slackened off in peacetime to allow the harbour to be used.

 

Related image   image.jpeg.d070b2b5b36b7d840abcbc603d7e4cd0.jpeg image.jpeg.e9cea5c0c3d738c8894b5b2c82e61145.jpeg

 

 

That being said, that chain was at the limit of technology and the provision of anchor chains to individual ships could not be quality controlled to anything like the same degree.

 

Steven

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On 1/17/2020 at 9:08 AM, MESSIS said:

What chains concerned, we still  know that chains did exist. The bay or harbour was closing by a chain. Chain in greek is αλυσίδα, in the middle alter  called άλυσος, of which in connection with anchoring, I could not find any mentions. Lack of Hard evidence is a problem. Surely is a long shot just to say, If the Vikings did used chains for their anchors, why not the byzantines as well?  

 

 

 

Christos  

Yes you are right. Remember I had mentioned that in my earlier post. Chain is definitely not out of question, I agree.

 

Vikings are an evidence of the use of chains for anchoring. And is well known , that they were at those days, --after the 941 disastrous attack on Constantinople by Rus-

 part of the Imperial Guard, or the guard it self, as they arrived to Konstantinoupolis with their Drakars   through the russian rivers.

 

 But still the problem remains hard to solve. 

Edited by MESSIS

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I wasn't aware that any Viking anchors had been found with chains attached, but Googling it I found the following at https://www.vikingeskibsmuseet.dk/en/professions/education/viking-knowledge/the-longships/findings-of-longships-from-the-viking-age/ladby/ :

image.png.692e843d75cd1b8185eecd779843b521.png

Fascinating and enlightening as this is, unfortunately this just further complicates the issue - should I use chain or not? Aaargh!

 

Given that the whole idea of dromons having an anchor chain comes solely from Pryor's interpretation of a rather vague reference to "iron-throwing rope", I think I'm probably better off just using rope, particularly in light of the comments above, plus the fact that from among a fair number of Viking anchors  found, the Ladby ship has the only example with a chain. 

 

However, there is an article in the Mariner's Mirror of 1963 - Vol. 49 No. 1 by Honor Frost entitled "From Rope to Chain - on the Development of Anchors in the Mediterranean" which may cast some light on the issue. Does anyone have access to this? 

 

Steven

 

 

Edited by Louie da fly

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Yes Steven I came on it when I was building my Drakar... the kit of amati hat a chain for the anchor... so I have looked it up. Still I have found out that the vikings used a rope tide on the chain which was attached on the anchor.

 

Christos 

Edited by MESSIS

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It was certainly the venetian practice in the mid 15th century to have a length of chain attached to the anchor as seen in the cocha of Zorzi Trombetta of 1445.  So maybe it was also byzantine practice sometimes

Dick

 

 

dscn0002c_129.jpg.70b68e866c067b76bc1c1212ca91d3bd.jpgDSCN1161a.jpg.b2ffb40a1fe8e629b2d7468db9d97079.jpg

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Let me point out that the chain can only be used outside the hull. The moment it runs throug/passes over it, it destructs the boarding, as chafing would be to light an expression for the dammage done to the wood. A metal "guter" would be ripped of, the moment the chain got stuck into it, which would make that not an option to use a long chain either. Which makes Dick's option the only valid and usable one, if you turn to using a chain

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Good point, Carl. But with the anchors being so light ( the heaviest could probably be lifted by two people) it's likely they'd just pick it up chain and all and throw it into the sea. Maybe - a lot of speculation going on, I'm afraid.

 

I'm not really fixated on having a chain. I'm just trying to work out whether it would be likely to have one, or just an anchor cable. If only on a linguistic basis, I'm still more inclined to go with just rope - the original Greek would better translated this way, and there are so many downsides to having a chain that I hadn't thought about but have been brought to my attention by this discussion.

 

Steven

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Hi again Steven, WRT your point about throwing the 'lot' over the side with a couple of men seems counter to the purpose if you get my meaning?  If two men can lift the lot, then that amount of chain will not have added much weight to the anchor.  However,  a length of chain would assist in keeping the anchor rope lower down near the seabed thus providing a better 'lead' when setting / getting the anchor to bight?

 

Sorry, just adding to the confusion ;)

 

cheers

 

Pat

Edited by BANYAN

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