Olympias (trireme)

Olympias (Trireme)

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Olympias (trireme)

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Olympias is a reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme and an important example of experimental archaeology.

She was constructed from 1985 to 1987 by a shipbuilder in Piraeus. Finance came from the Hellenic Navy and donors such as Frank Welsh (a Suffolk banker, writer and trireme enthusiast). The building was advised by the historians J. S. Morrison and John F. Coates and the classics teacher Charles Willink, who with Welsh founded the Trireme Trust that initiated the project, and drew on evidence gained from underwater archaeology. The Trireme Trust is now chaired by Professor Boris Rankov (Royal Holloway University of London).

The bronze bow ram weighed 200 kg. The ship was built from Oregon pine and Virginia oak.

The important hypozomata (bracing ropes) had to be replaced by a steel rope as neither natural fibre ropes, nor synthetic fibre ropes with about the same elastic modulus as hemp could be obtained. Its tension varied as the hull bent on waves, rather than exerting a substantially constant tension like a natural fibre rope, and caused the alarming possibility of this causing the rope to snap and endanger the crew, so protective measures had to be fitted.

She was subject to sea trials in 1987, 1990, 1992 and 1994, but one of the most informative was an exercise in 1987 when crewed by 170 volunteer oarsmen and oarswomen. Olympias achieved a speed of 9 knots (17 km/h) and was able to execute 180 degree turns within one...
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