Ships were not used for pleasure in ancient Greece. Instead, they were used for fishing, to carry cargo, or to go to war and fight enemies.
Ships were also used for carrying goods for trade. They would sail around the Mediterranean calling in at ports to swap something they owned and had plenty of, for something they needed.
Ships in these times were used in wars and were around the same length as three buses in a row, about 115 feet.
Bear in mind that back then they did not have the skills or tools of today, so building a ship was difficult and one of this size would be a huge achievement to build.
The ships were made from softwood. The outside of the ship was made using oak.
Pine, cypress, or fir wood was used for the inside of the ship.
The oars were made out of a whole young fir tree, around 4.5 meters in length.
The ship remained lightweight thanks to the use of softwood, which was good for when the oarsman was rowing it.
The Greeks were clever as they used the ship as a battering ram by fixing brass layers onto the front tip of the ship.
If they could alongside the enemy ship they would try to smash a hole in the ship to sink it.
The biggest warship built in Athens was called a “Trireme”, which means “three-rower”.
The ship was one of the best on the Aegean Sea thanks to its battering ram and helped win battles in the black sea.
This style of ship played an important role during the Persia wars.
The Greek sailors were called oarsmen.
This was because the ships did not have motors as they do today, they were traditional sailing vessels powered by the wind in their sails or men rowing.
This meant that if there was no wind they had to rely only on the oarsmen.
It took around 180 men to row the Trireme.
The oarsmen sat on hard seats on both sides of the ship in three layers, top, middle, and bottom.
Rowing the ship was very hard work so speed was only possible in short bursts.
The ships were lightweight so if the wind was strong they could move fast over the Mediterranean Sea.
Before heading out on the ship the crew would pray to Poseidon, the Olympian sea god, to watch over them and make sure they remained safe on their journey.
Poseidon always carried a trident, a fork with three prongs. It was said if he got angry, he would bang it down heavily.
On the sea, this was said to produce huge waves, which could damage ships. By praying, the crew hoped Poseidon would send them calm seas.
Question and Answers
Question 1 – What was the name of the sea god the ancient Greeks used to pray to before setting sail?
Answer – Poseidon
Question 2 – What was the large warship called that was built in Athens and used during the 5th century.
Answer – Trireme
Question three – How many oarsmen did it take to row the Greek warship?
Answer – 180
Question four – What main material was used for building the outside of ancient Greek warships?
Answer – oak