Phoenician bireme, c 700 BC.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model made in 1964. The Phoenician bireme is one of the earliest examples of the two tier arrangement of oars, adopted to give greater speeds without necesitating an increase in the length of the boat. The hull was probably made in one piece from a tree trunk, but to accommodate the extra tier of oarsmen, an additional planked structure seems to have been added to the dug out hull. An upper deck was fitted above the heads of the inner oarsmen and a mast carried a large single square sail. The bow featured a battering ram, designed to hole an enemy vesel below the waterline, the main tactic of naval warfare of the period. The Phoenicians were the first great seafaring culture, trading with other peoples throughout the Mediterranean.