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The ship which was related closer than any other with the victory at Salamis was the trireme. Although it was first invented by the Corinthians in the 8th cent. BC, it was the Athenians who first enhanced its advantages, connecting it with the development of their city per se.

The trireme was a light, fast, agile and aggressive ship. It moved by oars as well as by sails. Its particular features in comparison to other warships were the skillful addition of a third row of rowers (eretae), which increased its velocity without increasing its volume, and the reinforcement of its military equipment with the ram, the sharp, wooden construction on the bow, lined with bronze. The triremes could thus cause the sinking “by ramming” of the enemy ships, striking them vehemently on the beam or on the sides. In the classical period, the tip of the ram bore indentations, resembling a trident.

The command of the ship lay with the trierarch and with another 7 officers. The petty officer coordinated 170 rowers in three rows: the thranitae on the highest row, the zygitae on the middle one and the thalamitae on the lower one. In order to protect the ship and its sailors, another 10 hoplites and 4 archers came aboard. In total, the crew of a trireme reached 200 people, probably all free Athenian citizens.

CREDITS

Directorate of Archaeological Museums, Exhibitions & Educational Programs
Acropolis Museum
Ephorate of Antiquities of Piraeus and Islands
Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology
Numismatic Museum

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