The fleet of the Ptolemies, of its Greek, or rather Macedonian origin, had the techniques of construction and the taste for large ships, adding to it the pomp of the Pharaohs. A genuine monster, this galley-palace, and at the same time the flagship of Ptolemy Philopator's fleet, was a "40", counting forty men on board, with 4000 rowers according to the writings, indicating that each row 17 meters long Could be handled by ten men, and that, consequently, this galley might have four rows of oars, or three with sixteen, thirteen, and ten rowers, the oars of the highest ranks being distinctly longer, which appears to be less likely. Be that as it may, these oars were so large that they could not be seized directly, but by means of "handles" made for this purpose. The rowers had to be very shifted and have a role to play different according to its distance from the apostis, the lever point of the rowing.

A mysterious vessel whose existence is reported, it is difficult to know its dimensions, varying from 120 to 80 meters, and between 15 and 30 in width, and 50 with possibly a double hull. Because of its imposing draft, this ship could not dock in any port, remaining in the open sea. Or a contrario it is very possible also that it was launched, but remained docked like the floating palaces Of Caligula a few centuries later on Lake Nemi, its enormity condemning it on the contrary not to cross the boundaries of its dedicated basin. Preceded by the "20" of his father Ptolemy Philadelphus, and perhaps inspired by the "30s" of the fleet, this naval unit superfluous of the last Ptolemy constituted the high point of the rivalry between the Antigonides of Macedonia and Egypt Lagide.



This mythical ship probably poses the most beautiful enigma to archaeologists, but also to engineers. It is common sense to challenge such gigantic galleys, as the trials of Coates and Morrison in the 1980s proved that this system works but is already complex with only a rowing rower . First of all, 4000 rowers, for a squad of 40, this inevitably means that there were necessarily at least four rows of stacked oars, with ten rowers for each. It is difficult to imagine oars of more than ten men. Then, the superposition of the rows poses the problem of the length of the oars: The "counterthalamites" (lowest rank) should have provided a much less effort than the Thranites because of the increasing length of the oars going towards the top. And ten rowers are still a lot: This poses the problem of the position of the internal rowers with respect to the point of lever of the train: Too close, their effort would have been derisory or on the contrary too important for a mediocre result. Removing the rowers also means that the famous lever point of two or three meters and more (notably by advances in the swimming chamber) must be set aside, and inevitably poses that of the length of the oars, which for ten rowers , Brings us to much more than 17 meters regarding the thranites...

It is doubtful that 8 rowers is already a maximum possible, and is more compatible with the length of the oars (17 meters) as described by Casson, who mentions the special nature of this galley, which would have had a catamaran configuration: Of "20" joined by a large platform, which would have given 1000 rowers distributed in 50 rows of oars in 8 thranites, 7 zygites and 5 thalamites, 2000 rowers thus for each hull, which thus seems much more credible. Such a ship would have had a lower draft and therefore greater mobility, very good stability as well as ample space available for jet weapons. In addition the "40" was deemed to carry 2850 soldiers. (See illustrations). In such a configuration, the two "30s" of Ptolemy III could also have been two catamarans, meeting two "15". The Lagide fleet had a great experience of units above dekere (10), and had no less than fourteen "11", two "12" and four "13". See also John Illsley's article (In English) (Southampton University, Maritime Archeology Section, http://cma.soton.ac.uk/HistShip/shlect27.htm).