Ancient Greek ship 'Argo' sets sail once again
Jul 4, 2008, 13:59 GMT
The recreation of the ancient Greek ship Argo, the vessel used by Jason and his Argonauts on the quest for the \'golden fleece\' sails in the canal of Korinthos, some 83 km west of Athens on 2 July 2008. The 50-oar vesssel crewed from all 27 European Union member countries is going to sail to Venice . EPA/VASSILIS PSOMAS
Athens - A replica of the legendary ship on which Jason and his Argonauts battled various creatures to recover the Golden Fleece according to ancient mythology sailed in Greek waters Friday and will anchor at 23 cities before ending up at the Italian port of Venice next month.
Setting off from the beaches of Jason's hometown of Volos in central Greece in mid-June, the modern day 28-metre wooden vessel is a reconstruction of an ancient Greek warship 'penteconter,' which consists of one tier of 50 oars and a ram used to attack and sink enemy ships.
Propelled by 50 oarsmen and 22 on standby - they will row a gruelling 10 to 15 hours a day - the ship is expected to reach its final destination in Venice on August 11.
During the mythical journey, the 'Argo' had 50 rowers, one captain, five officers, two steersmen and a sail of 54 square meters.
According to historians who have traced the journey of the ancient vessel, the oarsmen sat on 25 benches and every 40 minutes five benches would rest for 8 minutes.
Travelling between 10 and 15 nautical miles a day, the replica vessel will stop at 23 cites, many of which are in modern-day Albania, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy.
It is predicted that the Argo will have travelled a total of 2,000 nautical miles over its two-month journey.
The ship was originally scheduled to reach the ancient destination of Colchis, in what is modern-day Georgia, located at the eastern end of the Black Sea but Turkey's refusal to guarantee the vessel safe passage through the Bosporus Strait forced it to retrace only part of the Argonaut's return trip at the last minute.
According to Greek mythology, Jason and his team of selected Argonauts, set sail from Volos, named Iolcos in ancient times, on a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece from the ancient city of Colchis.
With the help of such heroes as Hercules and Orpheus, Jason battled monsters on his mission to take the fleece of the sacred golden ram from the dragon guarding it and ran off with Medea, the sorceress and daughter of Colchis' king.
Jason and his crew of Argonauts then sailed from the Black Sea up the Danube river and on into the Saba and Ljubljanica rivers before continuing their trip on the Adriatic and Aegean Seas.
Jason is seen as the founder of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia and the city's coat of arms includes a dragon, in remembrance of the Argonaut's adventures.
The team of experts from the Naudomos Institute set out to use the same techniques, iron tools and wood, in recreating the 14th century BC warship.
Unlike modern shipbuilding which relies on a metal frame, whole oak and pine trees were positioned in the hull of the replica vessel and more than 5,000 wooden pegs and wedges were used to hold the ship's frame and planks in place.
In Greek mythology, the 50 Argonauts with the aid of the goddess Athena, constructed the Argo in three months, while the team of modern-day shipbuilders and historians took three years to build the replica vessel.
Experts working on the replica also had to adjust the length and width of the ship to accommodate the rowers. In ancient Greece, a rower's average height was 1.60 metres while today it is 1.80, thus the length of the ship was expanded from 27.5 to 28.5 metres by 4 metres wide.
The 'Argo' will be housed in a museum after returning from its journey.