On a recent visit to Ephesus we visited two reconstructed ancient ships of the types that plied the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas during the Roman (NT) Period.
View of a modern reconstruction of a penteconter. Typically these ships had 50 oarsmen although the number varied. This reconstruction has 20 oarsmen—10 on each side.
Note the narrowness of the vessel. Along the side, note the 10 holes though which the oars would have protruded. And above them, the opening that provided ventilation and light to the oarsmen. On the front of the ship (lower left) note the long “ram”—slightly below the surface of the water.
A penteconter was power by the oarsmen and a sail (note the mast on this ship). This type of ship typically lacked a full deck. Eventually the penteconter evolved into the bireme and the more famous trireme—the primary warship of classical antiquity.
Clay model of a Roman Penteconter that was found in the sea off Cape Malea (southern tip of Greece). It dates to the end of the first century B.C. or the beginning of the first century A.D.
This reconstruction has 14 oarsmen—7 on each side. Note the narrowness of the vessel. Along the side, note the protruding “nubs” that represent the oars and above them, the 7 openings that provided ventilation and light to the oarsmen. On the front of the ship (right side of image) note the long “ram” that would have been slightly below the surface of the water.
This model is on display in the archaeological museum at Sparta, Greece.