Not a lot of things to see along the Rhine between Munich and Mainz/Trier … or not in the time I had left in Germany, so I prioritized and did a long drive up to Mainz where there is the …

Gutenberg Museum

Gutenberg was a Mainz boy – born into a wealthy family there. Need I explain why he is a rather important figure?

Unfortunately, the lighting inside the museum was absolutely piss poor and I simply couldn’t get any worthwhile photos … of the printing presses.

Still, they had quite a few … and two Gutenberg Bibles.

Museum of Ancient Seafaring

This was the unexpected sleeper … technically speaking it’s not really about seafaring so much as it is about riverine craft. Building on actual boat remains excavated at various nearby sites the museum has reconstructed actual full size replicas of several riverine craft from the Roman riverine forces as well as commercial craft.

Roman riverine warship taken from above, stern. Note the steering oar and the simply rigged square sail. With such a low freeboard this would not have been the craft you’d want to actually take to sea with … heck, it’d be darned unsafe even for inshore coastal work.
Another of the reconstructed ships … this is more seaworthy and actually has a higher freeboard. It also has a typical rear ‘cabin’ … see below.
Yeah. Not much of a cabin for seagoing. But remember, Roman (and ancient ships in general) usually didn’t sail out of sight of land for long periods … they hugged the coastlines or island hopped and more often than not pulled up on shore or in a safe anchorage at night and slept on shore. For very short hops this would probably have been adequate. Notice the outriggers for the steering oar.
A Scorpion – medium tension engine (there were smaller models) usually used for throwing spear-like ‘bolts’ – they were carried into (some) battles on carts and commonly found on Roman warships or city/camp defences. They were light enough so that they may well have been left set up, but with the skeins of rope/fibre used to keep the throwing arms under tension) not twisted and under strain. Most of the time, however, they were probably stored away, disassembled and, indeed, only the metal parts may have been kept in store with the wooden parts constructed as needed to reduce transport requirements

The museum also has many dozens of wooden models of Roman and Classical era ships, ocean going (well, mediterranean going) and riverine.

A typical riverine/coastal or even north-seafaring boat of the type used by the Veneti on the Rhine.
A Roman Quinquireme – it used to be thought that these vessels had five banks of oars, based on the fact that Triremes had three – but it is now believed (as is shown here) that they only had two, but that the oars had multiple rowers … three on the lower bank and two on the upper, most likely. These large vessels were the Roman Imperial equivalent of a Battlecruiser or Battleship. There were larger vessels, but they were rarely built except in wartime, and rarely even then.
Two variants on the ‘typical’ Roman merchant ship design … some of these are known to have carried 1200 tons of grain on the Alexandria-Rome run (many days out of sight of land – an exception to the normal rule of pulling in to shore each night … and only done for around six months a year, those with the best expected weather).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s