Ancient Trireme

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Plan of an Ancient Trireme

Ancient Trireme TIFF file


The name trireme is derived from Latin: “tres remi,” quite literally, “three-oar” for the triple banks of oars it used for propulsion. The ships usually carried sails as well.

Developed some time around the 8th Century BCE, possibly by the Phoenitians, these warships were used by civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea. The prow was fitted with a metal ram which could be driven into the side of an enemy ship. Ships at the time were mostly built shell-first, that is the planking was shaped and then the skeleton of ribs were fitted later. This type of construction was especially prone to damage by ramming.

These plans are from the library of the French Ministry of Defense.

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