This free ship plan of a trireme is brought to use by French Vice-Admiral François-Edmond Pâris in his Souvenirs de Marine Conservés. Titled (In Italian) Trireme Veneziana (1539) Riprodatta dal C. Ammiraglio L. Fincati (1881), roughly translated is “Venetian trireme from 1539 reproduced by C. Admiral (rear admiral) Ammiraglio L. Fincati in 1881.” Pâris compiled the work of others as well as his own in his books, providing us with an impeccable record of shipbuilding history. The plan also offers a reproduction of a bas-relief from the Acropolis of Athens representing the central part of an ancient trireme.
Triremes were in use from ancient to early modern times, and their origins are lost to history. Images of biremes (two tiers of rowers as opposed to triremes’ three tiers of rowers) were common on pottery in the 8th Century BCE, and triremes begin to be mentioned at the end of that century. As this plan indicates, the design was used well into the Renaissance. This is partly due to the vessels’ shallow draft being handy for shoal waters and, being powered by oarsmen, triremes could navigate rivers that would be difficult for a sailing ship.
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