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by Archaeology Newsroom

Sea Vessel Samaina

Samaina, a particular type of vessel, is believed to have been invented by Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos (539- 522 B.C.). As it becomes apparent from its great width, the typical feature of the ship, Samaina could serve both naval and trade purposes, particular operations, such as piracy, cargo and troops transportation, and have various other uses demanding a large tonnage. According to the available sources Samaina was a bireme, that is a galley with two banks of oars, with a ram in the form of a boar’s head, a hull wider than its contemporary vessels and a long deck extending from bow to stern. It is illustrated on the early fifthcentury B.C. coins of Zancle-Messena that show the bow of a ship, which has been identified as that of Samaina. additional evidence for representing Samaina is supplied by relevant depictions of contemporary biremes and particularly by the pentekonter-bireme painted by Exekias on a black-figured Attic dinos in Villa Giulia, Rome, dated around 550- 530 B.C. The reconstructed model of the ship has twenty-five oarsmen in two successive levels on each side, altogether one hundred rowers, and follows the standards typical for the sea vessels of the period. The title of the graphic representation of the ship, “An attempt to reconstruct Samaina”, has been dictated by the difficulty in determining its details that cannot be verified, since a bireme wreck has not been discovered as yet.