Roman merchant ship, c 200.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model (scale 1:60) based on contemporary reliefs from Italy and the Syrian coast. These ships brought corn from the coast of Egypt and the Levant. They had a capacity of about 250 tons and must have been some 90 ft long. A large square sail was hoisted on a central mast with a topsail above it. A small headsail was set on a heavy spar raking well forward over the bow, called an artemon, which was of considerable importance in asisting the steering and enabled the vesels to maintain a steady course.