chapter  3
Breaking down boundaries: the experience of the multidisciplinary
The experience of the multidisciplinary
ByOlympias project
Pages 13

The Olympias project, which began some twenty-three years ago in 1981, involved the investigation of the design of the most important warship type of the ancient world, the trireme or trieres, the building of a ship to that reconstructed design, and the sea trials of the reconstructed ship, which was named Olympias (Figure 3.1). What distinguished this from almost all other ship reconstruction projects was that no trireme wrecks have been discovered to date. This state of affairs is likely to continue, since ancient warships were almost certainly unballasted (the rowing crew acted as ballast), and therefore, being built of wood, had an inherent positive buoyancy (Landels 2000: 148-9; Morrison et al. 2000: 127-8). Several literary texts indicate that when warships are spoken of as sunk, this really means only that they were holed and swamped, and could, as recorded, be collected together and towed away after a battle (e.g. Thuc. 1.50.1; 2.90.6; 7.34.6; Xen. Hell. 1.7.32). Unless we have an extraordinary stroke of luck, no triremes are ever likely to be found on the seabed.