Greco-Roman period

Steering oar

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I came across this architectural fragment on our recent visit to Corinth, Greece. It depicts an sailor steering a ship using a oar. These oversized oars, steering oars, or quarter rudders were a common apparatus on vessels throughout the Greco-Roman period. On larger ships they were lashed or attached to the ship to ease the labor of the pilot.

The true sternpost rudder seems to have originated in first-century China. Only later did Mediterranean shipwrights adapt the technology.

The stern of the ship depicted here is adorned with a goose-head, a common motif of Roman merchantmen.


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A few seats have become available on our Johnson University Study-Tour to Israel-Palestine slated for March 12-23, 2019. If you are interested in being a part of this high-energy student trip, contact me immediately at markziese@gmail.com. The roster needs to be finalized mid-December. Sign-ups are closing soon.