Ancient Greek Ships - Part 1

Michael Lahanas. Greece has a very rich tradition in maritime trade. Under Greek or foreign flags Greek owners with their ships control around 16% of the world trade. The information about ancient Greek ships is very limited. The problem is that the wood with which these ships are built does not survive long enough in the sea. The lifetime of wooden ships is very limited as we for example know from various stories such as that of Columbus and his last voyage to America where he had problems that his ships after the long time in sea water were so much destroyed (eaten up by worms) that there was always a danger of sinking. After a few centuries sunken ships are eaten up by various organisms in the sea and therefore it is not surprising that almost none of the ancient Greek ships survived. We know what we know from literature sources such as from Homer describing Odysseus building a ship or from pottery images or from fresco paintings. Here the problem is how much these images (or text) are artistic and how much they represent the reality.