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Syracusia: Wikis


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The Syracusia was an ancient Greek ship. With a length of 55 meters (180.4 feet), is sometimes claimed to be the largest transport ship of antiquity. It was designed by Archimedes and built around 240 BC by Archias of Corinth on the orders of Hieron II of Syracuse. It was later given to Ptolemy (Ptolemaios) III Euergetes of Egypt and renamed the Alexandris. Archimedes helped lift it.

A discussion of this ship, as well as the complete text of Athenaeus (late 2nd-century Greek writer who quotes a detailed description of the "Syracusia" from an earlier, now lost, writer Moschion) is in Casson's "Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World"[1].

Of particular interest in the discussion of the construction of the ship is the detailed description of the efforts taken to protect the hull from biofouling, including coating it with horsehair and pitch[2]. This may be the first example of proactive antifouling technology (designed to prevent the attachment of, rather than to remove, fouling organisms).


  1. ^ Casson, Lionel, Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World, Princeton, 1971.
  2. ^ Athenaeus of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, book 5, chapter 40

Further reading

  • Fik Meijer, André Wegener Sleeswyk: "On the Construction of the 'Syracusia' (Athenaeus V. 207 A-B)", The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 46, No. 2 (1996), pp. 575-578
  • Jean MacIntosh Turfa, Alwin Steinmayer Jr: "The Syracusia as a Giant Cargo Vessel", The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, Vol. 28, No. 2 (1999), pp. 105-125

See also



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