Friday, January 14, 2011

Byzantine Dromon about A. D. 850

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This vessel is a warship with four banks of twenty-five oars. The names in the drawing are in a foreign language, however, the vessel is two masted. The sharp pointed bow is the ram, which is the major weapon of this vessel. The sailing rig is lateen with long booms on each mast and large triangular sails. The ratio of length to width is always greater than 6 to 1, whereas in the merchant ships of the day it was 3 to 1. The essential design of this vessel had been determined by A. D. 600. The Dromon was supposedly developed from the Roman Liburnian which was a light warship in the Roman Navy. The drought was shallow, about 1.5 meters, and usually displaced less that 120 tons, The beam was generally about 5 meters. The hull was narrow and trim and the bottom almost flat. Shields were hung along the sides of the ship for crew protection, as found in the later Viking ships. There were no internal stringers, since the strength of the hull came from the strakes (hull planks) and external wales (strength members). The ship was lighter than merchant vessels which was to be expected since the name Dromon meant "Runner," it was definitely built for speed.


R.W. Unger, "The Ship in the Medieval Economy 600 to 1600," Croom Helm, London, 1980;

Lewis and Runyan, "European Naval and Maritime History, 300 to 1500," University of Indiana Press, Bloomington, 1985.

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