Under sail, the fighting ship had a comparatively short life of 400 years or so, whereas under oars its beginnings go back to at least Grecian times. It continued right up to the coming of the steamship, a period of over 2,500 years. In fact it could be said that throughout its entire evolution the ship has been influenced, if not moulded, by the oar.
In this book the author shows how the early galley was developed fundamentally as a ram. the increase in the number of oars being with the object of giving increased power and speed. Although the galley as a type disappeared from the Mediterranean in the early 1700's it reappeared about that time in the Baltic, where it was used for another 100 years. This was in the fighting between the Russians and the Swedes, along the shallow waters off the rocky coast of Finland. where the sailing ship dare not go. The galleys used by the English, Dutch and other northern nations were more or less sailing warships arranged to be propelled by oars when necessary, whereas the galleys of the Baltic were developed from the long, low Mediterranean type.
The accommodation of the largest number of oars and oarsmen has been one of the great problems of the galley from earliest times. Unfortunately the records of how it was solved have been unsatisfactory and bewildering. Ancient sculptures have included representations of biremes and triremes, and manuscripts have included references to quinqueremes and polyremes. The problem is still unsolved, but the book examines the views of most writers who have analysed' the subject, and Dr. Anderson's comments on these, together with his own views on the subject, are most valuable.
The book is well illustrated with line draw ings and with pictures.
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