Jump to content

Odysseus homeric ship (penteconter) by MESSIS - kit-bashed from Dusek bireme


Recommended Posts

Therefor the sources available are Homer’s works, Iliad ana Odyssey, the ancient vases of Homer’s life time, that is the time from the 8th to the 7th century bc and lastly the archaeological findings from the ship wrecks. Although is common knowledge that Homer’s epics refer to the Trojan war, that according to Heinrich Schliemann findings are dated in the 13th to the 12th century bc., Homer’s  naval references correspond  the naval reality of his life time.

 

 

Out of a study of the above topics, I came to the conclusion (and I am not the first to do so) that Odysseus ship was a πεντηκόντορος, a penteconter. It had, as also her Greek name designates,  50 oars. That is 25 in each side. It also had a single mast with a single square sail. It was a very long boat, hence this type of ship, even the smaller ones with 30 or 20 oars, were described as long vessels (νῆες μακραί, nḗes makraí ).

 

For the reconstruction project, of building Odysseus ship, I got two model ship kits from Dusek, that is the Greek bireme, in order to use/merge their elements  and to by pass  trivial work, which is supplied by the kits.

 

 

Christos

Link to post
Share on other sites

As first I had to extend the short keel of the Dusek bireme. The bireme has a length of 395mm, that represents a ship of 28 meters length. Far to short for the long ship of Odysseus which was between 35 and 40 meters. The bireme has two rows of oars, one above the other on each side, with 13 oars each row, where the Penteconter had a single row on each side, but with far more oars, 25 on each side.

20200715_084659.jpg

20200715_091311.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Upper deck, or the bridge connecting forecastle and quarterdeck/poop deck, is done. Now is time to begin planking,

 

That said, appears to me that I have to explain that this is not the way a penteconter was build. On  the contrary, at those ages, it was the other way around, It was build with the shell-first construction method. That is the planking was made prior to the framing of the ship. The frames were coming after planking. Of course here I could not follow this method so I proceed as the usual method frame first and then planking, that is the method that came later, after the 7th century bc.

 

For the planking there is discussion. Were the ships planks  those days  joined together with mortise and tenons or if they were laced on each other. Although Homer describes Odysseus building a ship or some kind of a vessel, in order to leave Calypsos island, but although he explains clearly how Odysseus joins the planking, ‘’ he bored them all and fit them together and then with pegs and fasteners he hammer it together…” the various translations have produced a disagreement. In any case the laced method is the older method, that means that in Homers time most probably the new method -mortise-tenons- was used,

Lionel Casson and many other scholars believe that probably penteconter were build with the modern method of mortise and tenons. Also at the substantial period the laced method was mostly found in wrecks around Egypt.

laced method.jpg

mortise tenons method.jpg

20200717_142634.jpg

20200717_142646.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Cathead said:

Cool project, seems like a great chance to follow along and learn some more history.

Yes, I love the stories of the Trojan war and subsequent tales of Odysseus trials and tribulations trying to get back to Ithaka and Penelope. I will  enjoy watching his ship being built. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Louie da fly thank you very much Steven.No I was aware of the reconstruction of Argo, but I wasnt aware of the youtube video. I just saw it.. .  thank you.

 

What I have just seen, seems to be very near to what I had in mind out of my study. Though Argo is far shorter than I think a penteconter could have been  .... I believe am more on the right side.

 

Argo (replica), is said to be 28 meters, but if you allow a meter plus (according to the trireme Olympias expirement) for each oar's man, then you got more than  the 28 meters without the ικρία, thats the forecastle and quarter deck. Lionel Casson's calculations are favourable to my view  that a penteconter reached 40 m. That as a maximum, because above that, other issues appear (frame dynamic behaviour problems), making (for example) the existence of an exiconter εξηκόντορος (60 oars) impossible. Ofcourse there are scholars who believe that there were smaller penteconters even 28 to 30 meters. (S.Mark - Homeric Seafahring)

 

I also have some minor objections concerning the beaklike bow, the colours  the ornamentation etc

 

Thank you Steven for adding usefull information to my work.

 

Christos 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy to be of help, Christos. 

 

The Byzantine galea YK4 found at Yenikapi (the old harbour of Theodosius) had the rowing benches anywhere between 0.874 and 1.048 metres apart - with an average spacing of 0.96 metres. I found in my own dromon (also with 25 rowing positions, though on two levels rather than one) that allowing for about a meter between benches the bow and stern both needed to be longer than originally estimated. If I were to build it again I would make it 4 metres longer.

 

I think your judgment regarding the bow shape, colours, ornamentation etc could well be better than that of the people who built the Argo reconstruction.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Steven, I dont think so.As you are aware of, they were building their ships with the shell first method. Meaning there were no frames to connect on the next plank. Ofcourse you will ask now, how were they finding 40 meter long planks for the penteconters.... And I will answer that  I dont know 🤯

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, it makes sense. Still there is mo evedence if that was the case for the penterconter. On the other hand I dont believe that a 40 meter lenght ship was made by a single plank.in each strake. I dont think they could do that and find and cut trees of that length.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

@Louie da fly  thx, it seems am over the crical point of not completing the model. After the framing and planking now its easy to proceed with what it remains in order to rebuilt Homer's ship. I believe the result will be historicaly representable or at least within the frame of Homer's imagination.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And here you can see akrostolion (stem decoration) and aflaston (stern decoration), both had a religious symbolism. And the 3rd picture shows epigenides and zyga, which ofcourse were futtocks (epigenides) and zyga the crossbeams which I dont know how is called in english. And lastly the beakhead, which is not a ram (no rams at that point in naval history)but just a beakhead helping the ship's/keel's stability.

plori kelifos.jpg

prymnh kelifos.jpg

ramfos.jpg

stamines.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, MESSIS said:

the crossbeams which I dont know how is called in english

If they supported a full deck they'd be called deck beams. The most accurate term might still be "upper deck beam"- but as the upper deck is really what we would call a catwalk, perhaps "catwalk beams"?

Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks Steven. Very nice of you to explain to me. Actualy they operated as holders of the futtocks in the radia direction, helping I guess against shell compression or tenstion tension. I also believe that each frame hat two of those, one lowere and one up.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...