The Super-Galleys of the Helenistic Age

By Lionel Casson, published May 1969


The construction and operation of the trireme of the Mediterranean navies of antiquity is now well-documented, but what of the larger vessels? It is believed that the number of rowers increased from one to as many as six per oar but this does not explain the layout of galleys known as ‘twenties’ etc. Clues within preserved records, such as the mention of ‘double-prowed’, ‘double-sterned’, led Casson to conclude that the only way such large numbers of rowers could be accommodated was for the super-galleys to be twin-hulled, in other words ancient versions of today’s catamaran.

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Filed under: Antiquity | Mediterranean
Subjects include: Navies | Ship Handling & Seamanship | Shipbuilding & Design

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