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Types of Roman Ships (Transport vs. Battle)



Summary: Learn about the different general categories of Roman Ships (Transport vs. Battle).

Content Source: https://www.njcl.org/Portals/1/NRCE%20Study%20Guide%20%20ADV%20%28v1_0%29.pdf

Image Source: https://www.google.com/url?q=https://books.google.com/books?id%3DcbJtYyWeMocC%26dq%3Dnavis%2Boneraria%26source%3Dgbs_navlinks_s&sa=D&ust=1526517930321000&usg=AFQjCNFq7P157XmycVn167MXcoX2QA20Sg

Transcription: Hello and welcome to this lesson on the different types of Roman ships. The first type that we're going to talk about is the Navis Longa right over here which is essentially a battleship. Its primary offensive tactic it was powered by the rostrum here at the bow which was like a beak essentially used to ram enemy ships. The most common of these battleships was the one with three ranks of oars right here. That's how the battleships were categorized - by the number of rows of oars which they had - which also determined how many rowers you would have on that particular battleship. The other type of ship which was very important was the Navis Oneraria right over here which was essentially a transport ship it was used to carry very heavy objects or cargo across the Mediterranean Sea which the Romans called Mare Nostrum - our sea. It could also support the military by carrying soldiers, horses, and other necessary provisions. It was broader as you can see - overall it was broader and was much slower than a battleship. The battleships needed to be very quick so that they could inflict the maximum damage to the enemy ship when they hit them. The other important aspect to this was basically how the transport worked. On the Navis Oneraria you were mainly by powered by sails - the diagram doesn't show it - but you would have sails on the ship to power it across the Mediterranean wherever it goes. You wouldn't really ever use rowers because they would be inefficient. On the other hand on the battleship you would have all rowers so that you could go really quickly during the battle but that's not to say they didn't have sails. They did - it's just that they would be used when they weren't in a battle. It was most efficient to use rowers in a battle situation and sails for any other type of navigation. That is generalized across all of the categories. These two designs were originally inspired by the Athenians and perfected by the Phoenicians which led them to be used by the Carthaginians who inspired the Romans when they were building their Navy during the Punic Wars.

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