A Greek tricontère at the time of the Trojan War (1450 BC). This one has 32 rowers, two better than the standard ones. Some late twenties had twenty rowers per side, or 40 in all: The pentaconter was only a logical evolution.
Dikonteros, Cisokonteros, Trikonteros. These terms are known from later writings, from the 5th to the 6th centuries before our era for the most part. They apply to galleys of moner type (a single row of oars, a rowing oar), specific to the Greek navy but not only: Assyrians and Phoenicians also used such types of units, and before them Mycenaean and Minoan . Although belonging to the majority of the warships of the time, the Phoenicians preferred the Dières, faster. These light galleys date back to the very beginning of the hard construction, with keels and pairs in oak, lined with pine assembled with clinkers (juxtaposition of planks held by tenons and mortises).
However, these small units formed most of the fleets in the VIIIth century before our era, before precisely the appearance of the Pentacontères and especially the Greek Dières. They never disappeared but were gradually assigned to second-rate roles, due to their agility. One might even say that they were "second class" units, assigned to liaison and training tasks, or for the transport of rapid troops. But their military value in combat, and this as early as Salamis in 491 BC. J.C., was more reduced in front of heavy units capable of using more effectively their rostrum in effect of mass or of embarking more men of troop. The fleet which landed on the beach of Troy included both standard cargo vessels, Pentacontères, cisocontères (20 rowers), and tricontères (30), intermediates falling between two types with the name of the base class: Avant Pentecontère, the most efficient line ship was to be the 40-oared tricontère, twenty per side. It could have been called tettacontère, but this term was rarely seen in the writings of the chronicles of the time.
A Diconteros or Cisoconteros, systematically employed ten rowers per side. A Triconteros, fifteen. It was their employment that later justified the appearance of the Dieres, consisting in doubling the number of rowers by two rows of oars on the same side, increasing power and speed without excess weight, and the Pentacontère, ultimate attempt To combine the classical scheme of the monoreme with an increase in the number of rowers. The latter proved to be finer and therefore faster theoretically, but being as long and heavy as the Dier, it lacked power.
In any case, the dikonteros generally measured 20 to 23 meters, the tricontères 23 to 26. They had a width of 3.20 to 4.20 meters, and weighed between 15 and 35 tons. They could have a small hold, often lodged under the forecastle, used as a platform for combat by the hoplites. Their veil being very simple to handle, it is quite possible that there were only two sailors loaded with it, unless it was the rowers themselves. As a result, the complete crew, including soldiers, of a dicontère had to be 28 men, and 40 for the Triconter. It is probable that the first dicontries were even more modest and light, for they were stranded on the sand, taking advantage of the tides, before the hard-packed holds appeared.