1. ajbjasus says

    I wonder if Noah had a “hypozomata” to stop the ark bending ?

    At least the Greeks had thought the whole thing through.

  2. weylguy says

    Ah, boys and their little boats. Ancient European countries waged war by devastating their forests to build wooden warships, and the resulting need for lumber conveniently provided another excuse to go to war against more peaceful countries that still had forests. The Greeks seem to have been no different.

    It’s no wonder that ancient Egyptians were lousy sailors—they had no forests, so they had to get by with stone boats that didn’t float very well. Then God sent Moses and the ten plagues against them (actually there were twelve plagues, as the Pharaoh’s magicians managed to repeat two of them), and it was all downhill from then on. If you believe that sort of thing.

  3. monad says

    @2 weylguy: Egyptians made boats out of bundled reeds, and later wood like acacia or imported cedar. Why would you use stone boats?

  4. whheydt says

    Re: monad @ #3….
    He may not know what a “stoneboat” actually is. It’s a type of sledge, not a type of boat.

  5. blf says

    It’s no wonder that ancient Egyptians were lousy sailors — […] they had to get by with stone boats that didn’t float very well.

    The mildly deranged penguin says they had a very good, if small, navy of boats made of rock. The ancients were no fools, and used pumice. That was the Egyptians’s real problem, they lacked a reliable / adequate supply of pumice. She says the pyramids were not grain stores, but artificial volcanoes intended to generate pumice. (The rumour they were the anchors for some really big ships is clearly nonsense, as no anchor chains have been found.)

  6. says

    You just have to row a stone boat faster, and not stop rowing. Much of the time, you’re rowing up.

    They may have had help from ancient astronauts, in return for storing grain in their pyramids for them. They say the ancient astronauts tried India first, but made the locals angry with their treatment of cattle.

  7. DonDueed says

    The mechanical engineering department at the University of Massachusetts has an annual challenge for its students: a concrete canoe race.

    Stone boats are not entirely impossible.

  8. microraptor says

    Anything will float as long as you shape it correctly so that it displaces more water than its mass.

  9. blf says

    Stone boats are not entirely impossible.

    Indeed. For instance, during WW ][, there were concrete cargo ships.

    There is also a granite sculpture that floats, the Maen Vag (French). In translation (Generalissimo Google):

    The Maen Vag is a granite boat from Lanhélin […] designed by the sculptor Jean-Yves Menez.
    The peculiarity of this granite sculpture is that it floats. She was the subject of more than fifteen launching, with passenger. Now the work is exhibited on the forecourt of the Cathedral of Dol-de-Bretagne, where it illustrates the legend of Saint-Samson, who would have arrived at Dol in the sixth century in a “stone trough”.

  10. jrkrideau says

    A neigbour of mine had a very nice 28 ft concrete cruiser he sailed for years.

    BTW that article PZ linked had a bit of an error. The Greeks never had “a troop of slaves rowing for dear life under a seasoned crew” in a trireme.

    They hired rowers just like the Romans did.

  11. DonDueed says

    The Egyptians also had stone boats in a different sense — namely, boats to carry stone. Some of the materials for the pyramids and other monuments were brought from far up the Nile.

  12. blf says

    So we have at least five types of “stone boats”: (1) Sledges (typically to haul stones / stonework, I believe); (2) Boats which carry stones / stonework; (3) Actual boats / ships made of stone; (4) Imaginary / legendary boats / ships made of stone; and (5) The ship in the OP.

    There is also, I suppose, (6) Stoned boaters, the “boaters” here being sailors not hats, albeit a stoned sailor may indeed be wearing a boater. Whilst such sailors are probably punting, then could be rowing, albeit they probably aren’t wearing a boater whilst rowing the ship in the OP.

    (we Is confused ?yet)

  13. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    This technology is perfect. Cheap, beautiful, and with a strong record of military success.

    I’m recommending that the US replace all its aircraft carriers. We could even replace each carrier with a full Helen of ships, if Trump is worried about national security.

    Since we go years between commissioning new carriers, we’ll just ask him, “How do you want to be remembered? As the face that launched a ship? Or as the face that launched more ships than Helen?”

    Soon the US will have my dream navy … and rowing will become a lot more popular at colleges to boot.

  14. blf says

    I’m recommending that the US replace all its aircraft carriers.

    There’s also the French approach, which is, broadly: Plan for two superdooper carriers, build the first, discover it doesn’t work, keep putting it back into drydock for repairs and modifications, give up on the other carrier… (Actually, the one existent carrier now a-bit-more-than-less-works, and I think has finally spent more days in service(? at sea?) then in drydock getting fixed. Again. Again. Again. And Again. And so on…)

    The UK, who does not like to one-upped in ineptitude, is trying to do even “better”. Broadly: Retire your one working carrier. Order two superdooper carriers. Discover you don’t have the money for even one. Discover canceling the contract for one would be more expensive than building it. So build both, and hope you can sell one. Oh, and there’s no money at for the aerocraft, so launch the carrier with no planes. Maybe it will get some planes in a few years. Maybe. In the meantime, search desperately for a buyer for the other one… Oh, and quit the EU in a huff.

  15. cartomancer says

    What you’re looking at there, my friends, is the very symbol of democracy itself. On many different levels.

    For a start, Plato used the concerted cooperation of the different crew on a ship to make it move as his classic metaphor for the well-ordered state in his Politeia (Republic).

    Second, it was only after the Athenians won the Battle of Salamis in 480BC that the lowest property class in their society – the thetes who rowed the ships in the navy as their compulsory military service – were admitted to an equal position of eligibility for all the city’s allotted magistracies and elected generalships. Thanks to these warships it was the least wealthy in Athens who played the biggest part in defending it and protecting its overseas interest – the age of the aristocratic charioteer or cavalryman had given way to the age of the middle-class Hoplite, and after Salamis gave way to the age of the rower. Now, to defend the state, you didn’t need to be able to afford expensive arms and armour – you just needed your own cushion.

    Thirdly, the expenses and upkeep of the triremes were all borne by the wealthiest men in Athenian society – who also had to captain their ships in person, and thus bear responsibility for them. Athens wasn’t keen on taxation (still isn’t!), but those taxes it did have fell squarely on the shoulders of the merchants (foreigners mostly) and the rich. And it was considered an honour to perform these liturgies – the rich actually showed off about how they were happy to contribute to the defense of the state this way (or to its cultural richness when the liturgy they were called on to provide was a dramatic chorus for the theatre or a troupe of athletes for the games).

    See – a load of triremes can do much more than burn the topless towers of Ilium!

  16. cartomancer says

    An amusing incidental note: we have recovered many parts of Roman and Carthaginian triremes from the Punic Wars, including many of the bronze rams fitted to the fronts. The Carthaginian ones tend to be inscribed with prayers to the gods of Carthage, Tanit and Baal Hamon, for victory over their enemies. The Roman ones tend to be inscribed with the names of the overseers of quality control in the factories that made them.

  17. blf says

    The rams of a US Navy fleet of triremes (see @15) would have “TRUMP” in fake gold lettering on their bright shiny rams.

  18. blf says

    arrgggghhh, me@19: The rams of a US Navy fleet… → A US Navy fleet…

    Although hair furor would probably like the idea of a warship’s rams having its own rams — More rams! Bigger!! THE BEST.

  19. nathanieltagg says

    No, no no. A milliHelen is a unit of beauty. Ships are measured in tonnage. Tons are measured in battleships. Petabytes is measured in libraries of congress. Get your units right.

  20. aziraphale says

    blf, you underestimate the UK’s talent for ineptitude. If our carriers had been equipped with catapults we could have bought relatively cheap conventional fighters such as the French Rafale. But no. We saved some money on catapults and now the only fighter we can operate is the late, over budget and relatively slow F35B.

  21. davidc1 says

    After the fist 100 ships ,Helen of Troy said “I wish someone would hurry up and invent champagne “

  22. blf says

    aziraphale@22, Ha, I didn’t realise the UK’s new superdooper carriers didn’t have catapults. Reading up on that, it seems that whilst both were originally intended to not have catapults, They™ changed their mind and decided to equip only the second with catapults, but then discovered that was so expensive the design was changed back to no catapults. Yes, the UK is trying hard to recover Teh Inept Most Inept Prize Award (a cake made from plywood scraps held together with a frosting made from grease; the cake is upside-down on net hammock attached to two rusty empty wheelbarrows).

  23. rietpluim says

    I vaguely remember something about Irish missionaries sailing to Scotland in “stone” boats to convert the Scots. The boats were actually covered in tar or something, but the Scots didn’t know tar.

  24. John Morales says

    nathanieltagg @21. it is an unit of beauty, but that is how PZ is using it.

    “this is only one milliHelen of a fleet.”

    One Helen of a fleet is 1000 ships.
    One milliHelen of a fleet is 1 ship.

  25. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I don’t mind using it both ways.

    A pound is a measure of weight and also a measure of money/wealth.

    A milliHelen of attractiveness is the beauty sufficient to launch 1 ship.
    A milliHelen of naval power is 1 ship.

    I think we can all get it from context, but certainly it’s true that the first time I head milliHelen used was in the context of attractiveness, so it’s probably correct that the original usage measured beauty just like the original pound probably measured weight. Doesn’t make naval power usage of milliHelen of the money/wealth usage of Pound automatically invalid. Or at least it doesn’t have to.

    I’m a both/and kinda woman.

  26. Colin J says

    ajbjasus @1:

    I wonder if Noah had a “hypozomata” to stop the ark bending ?

    At least the Greeks had thought the whole thing through.

    I think the ram on the ark was purely decorative. (Or was it one of the sheep?)

  27. cartomancer says

    I should also point out that one ship is actually slightly less than a true milliHelen.

    The Marlovian milliHelen in common usage (the beauty required to launch one ship) is less accurate than the original Homeric milliHelen. The end of Iliad book two preserves a detailed catalogue of 1186 ships that sailed to Troy to recover Helen and avenge Paris’s slight against Menelaus.

    So a true milliHelen is actually 1.186 ships.

  28. monad says

    @cartomancer: But those would have been monoremes. If one of those ships measures 0.84 millihelens, shouldn’t a trireme be worth 2.5, and the quinqueremes of Rome and Carthage worth 4.2?

  29. says

    There’s at least one trireme rebuilt — they ask crew teams to volunteer for test runs every so often. Here’s a documentary from one of the early summers (1990s). Rowing begins about 3:30: and it’s amazing how crowded the rowers are in the seats, and the oars in the water.

    I remember being told that when they first got well-coordinated enough to reverse speed, they nearly rammed a pleasure yacht that had sidled up closer than it ought.

  30. blf says

    Speaking of navy ineptitude (see @16, @22 & @24), it seems the Spanish navy is also trying for Teh Prize of Inept Maximum Ineptitude, Too long to fit: launch of new Spanish sub runs aground. Broadly: Order some superdooper submarines with superdooper non-nuclear propulsion. Years later, discover a simple calculation error. Result is the sub cannot float. Fix the problem by making the sub longer. Now it cannot fit in the submarine’s naval base. And in the meantime, that superdooper non-nuclear propulsion isn’t working / is too loud, so the first subs will have “temporary” diesel propulsion…