Archaeology, Corinth, Denmark, ports, underwater archaeology, University of Copenhagen
Republication from the University of Copenhagen website
Aerial photo of the Western Mole (K. Xenikakis & S. Gesafidis)
Underwater archaeology. In Greece, underwater excavations of Lechaion, ancient Corinth’s partially submerged harbour town, reveal the infrastructure of more than a thousand years of flourishing maritime trade. Researchers from the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports and the University of Copenhagen are using cutting-edge methods to uncover the configuration and scale of the harbour.
Corinth ranked among the most economically and militarily powerful, and enduring, cities of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods. The city had an exceptional geographical advantage in the North East corner of the Peloponnese and controlled the Isthmus that facilitated land travel between Northern and Southern Greece, and travel by sea between the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.
Ancient Greece, Ancient warfare, Athens, Carthage, Corinth, ναυτική Ιστορία, Macedonia, Military history, Naval warfare, Phoenicia, quadrireme, quinquereme, Rome, Syracuse, Trireme
Front, top and side view of a hepteres (septemereme). The diagrams in the upper part (arris of ships) depict the evolution of the arrangement of the oarsmen, from the original Greek penteconter to the Roman imperial trireme (Credit: John Warry / Salamander)
By Periklis Deligiannis
Around 500 BC, the trireme (an invention of the Corinthians) became the basic warship of the Greek, Phoenician, Etruscan, Lycian and other Mediterranean war fleets. The trireme supported the “thalassocracies” of Athens, Carthage, Corinth, Syracuse, Tyre, Caere/Caisra (Cerveteri), Aegina and other Greek, Phoenician and Etruscan city-states.
The campaign of Alexander the Great in Asia and the overthrow of the Persian empire created a new statehood for the Greek world. The new Greek/Hellenistic states (kingdoms) which were created in Asia and Egypt were overwhelmingly more extensive than the old city-states. The new political situation had its impact on warfare, both on land and sea. The old hoplite armies numbering a few thousand hoplites gave way to armies of tens of thousands of soldiers, based on the Macedonian phalanx and the heavy cavalry (mainly Macedonian ‘Hetairoi’ and Thessalians). Similarly, the older fleets of the city-states which used the trireme as their basic warship, were replaced by the fleets of the colossal Hellenistic states in which the main warships were a number of ships larger or much larger than the trireme. This group of warships were called collectively ‘polyeres’ (‘πολυήρης’ in Greek, ‘multumeremes’ in a Latinized term) and the most typical of them were the tetreres (quadrireme in a Latinized term), the penteres (quinquereme ), the hexeres (sexereme), the hepteres (septemereme), the hocteres (octoreme) and the deceres (decemereme). The penteres was the most successful of them.
The tactics of naval warfare were adjusted accordingly. The triremes used mainly their speed and flexibility to prevail in naval conflicts, while the penteres and the other polyeres used their size and displacement. The main element that remained unchanged since the era of the trireme was the use of the ram, although its role in sea battle was reduced.
Ancient warfare, Athens, Corinth, Greek, ναυτική Ιστορία, Megara, Military topics, Naval warfare, Navy, Peloponnesian War, Sparta, Spartan
An artistic depiction of a Greek trireme. The Spartans, like the Athenians, relied for a long time on this type of warship (telias.free.fr).
By Periklis Deligiannis
CONTINUED FROM PART I
On the Spartan triremes, the Marine hoplites (“epibatae” in ancient Greek) consisted of Spartans and other categories of Lacedaemonians, the sailors were Laconian “perioikoi”, and the rowers (“eretae”) were Laconian “perioikoi” and helots. The captains (“triirarchoi”) were Spartans or Laconian “perioikoi”.
After the Persian Wars, the army of the Peloponnesian Alliance became essentially an organic part of the Spartan army. The same happened with the Navy of the Peloponnesian Alliance. The numbers of the Peloponnesian ships during the Persian wars, indicate that about 480 BC, the total Peloponnesian naval force consisted of 120-130 triremes. After the conquest of Aegina by the Athenians and the almost synchronous economic decline of Corinth, the Peloponnesian fleet was reduced significantly. The other Peloponnesian naval allies (including the Spartans) tried in vain to fill this “gap”. The Spartans raised the number of their triremes in 25 (413 BC). Despite the fact that the Peloponnesian fleet remained significant, it could not be compared with the opponent Athenian Navy during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). The Athenian fleet numbered around 350-480 embattled triremes (including the triremes of the maritime allies of Athens) during most part of the fifth century BC. From these triremes, a number of 200-300 could be manned. Continue reading
Ancient warfare, Colonies in antiquity, Corinth, Crete, Dorian, Greece, ναυτική Ιστορία, Military topics, Naval warfare, Southern Italy, Sparta, Spartan, Trojan War
The allied Greek fleet in the sea battle of Salamis, against the Phoenicians and the Persians.
By Periklis Deligiannis
The Navy of ancient Sparta – an important Weapon of the Spartan army – remains in a state of oblivion for most researchers. The Spartans had no naval tradition, nor ever acquired one. But the Spartan navy was a reality, due to the inhabitants of the coasts of Laconia. Later, during the Classical era, the united Peloponnesian Navy was provided mainly by the Peloponnesian allies of Sparta. After the end of the Hegemony of Sparta in Greece (371 BC), the Spartans reduced essentially their naval forces until the time of king Nabis, who was responsible for the last glimpse of the Spartan navy.
The maritime tradition of the coastal Laconian “perioikoi” (subjects of Sparta, mostly pre-Dorian) begins at least from the Mycenaean era, when the Lacedaemonian Achaeans took part in the Trojan War with 60 ships. The founding of common colonies by Spartan Dorians and Laconian pre-Dorians in Crete, Melos, Thera (Santorini) and Cnidus (a city of Asia Minor), indicates that the Laconian maritime tradition continued uninterruptedly during the Geometric period (11th-8th centuries BC). This is also indicated by the Spartan naval operation for the founding of Taras (modern Taranto) in Southern Italy (706/5 BC), which started from Gythion, the main port of Sparta (Taras was a Spartan colony). Continue reading