I thought this was a good post title for my next blog entry, as I am writing the "acquisition" and arrival of the Greek navy fleet from Kypros to the Delta.
It's incredible how many things we give for granted that, when you actually start to write your ideas down on paper (electronic paper in my case) you are absolutely at a lost, risking, otherwise, being extremely anachronistic.
A an example: when your camp wakes up in the morning (probably by the kyprian cock), do they take their breakfast? Did greeks eat more than once a day, or just one? (dinner?). Sigh, another lookup of info on books and the Internet...
Another, more elaborated, example: the Delian League fleet (huge fleet, of 200 trierei/trirremes and some 150 merchant, support ships, not mentioned but likely, as the warships were not meant to carry lots of water or food aboard) arrives to Kypros. Big island, many beaches. I just grab one, and deply the jnavy for a good night's sleep. We know that the Hellenes would take their trierei out of the water whenever they could, because, not knowing how to "seal" the wood planks of their hulks, they tied to get them to dry or they would spoil themselves and sink.
Therefore, they start moving the trierei to the (big) beach. Some stay behind, to protect the whole operation, after all a trieres is not a simply boat, it's some 32 meters beam, and carries more than 200 men on board (most of them oarsmen). So you get the ship to the water line (careful, specially if there are some strong waves), minutiously measuring the water depth, and calculating where the tide is, to (gently) get the ship on the sand. Then move it up, to the dried part of the beach, put on the pillons to keep it upright, (while the psiloi, light infantry, and the epibatai, heavy infantry, about 15 in total, create a defensive perimeter around the ship, just in case). Nest start mounting tents, fires, and so on...
In the meantime, the next ship starts performing the same operation. And after it, the next one. It took some 5 hours for a Roman army of 4 legions to make their fortified castrum after a walk, and when the camping site had been secured, and the engineers had started to delimit the streets, where the walls will go, and so on, some 15 kilometers away the last legionnaire is closing their last castrum.
I can imagine the beaching of such a fleet to be of a similar magnitude. Calculate a very well trained crew, in ideal conditions, can beach their trieres in half an hour. This is really fast. And let's suppose that, for a long enough beach, we can have several trierei beaching at the same time, say 3 of them, and that beaching operations overlap some 15 minutes (i.e., mid-way of the previous one). Then we have, every 15 minutes, 3 ships beaching for some half an hour. 200/3 = 66 (roughtly), this is 66 waves of 3 trierei every 15 minutes...
Time in minutes after beginning of beaching operations, waves show number of ships beaching at the time.
T.... 1 2 3 4 ... 65 66
000 3 0 0 0 ... 00 00
015 3 3 0 0 ... 00 00
030 0 3 3 0 ... 00 00
045 0 0 3 3 ... 00 00
xxx 0 0 0 0 ... 03 00
yyy 0 0 0 0 ... 03 03
zzz 0 0 0 0 ... 00 03
TTT 0 0 0 0 ... 00 00
How much is time TTT? 990 minutes, which is, exactly, 16 hours and a half.
Whoah! Therefore, they must have been beaching at a much higher pace, or they wouldn't have time to row from place to place, nor to get the ships back to the water. And we know they did so. Therefore, we have to reduce such an operation to a shorter time.
How? Let's suppose that the navy organized itself, internally, in small squadrons of some 10 ships. Why 10? Well, Athens provided some 100 ships to the Egyptian Expedition, and there were 10 demei (tribes) n Athens, and they did manage their army by demos (at this time, 460BCE, the trierarchies had lost most of its power) and they did so for the phalanx in Marathon, each taxis was formed by a tribe. It's not clear how they did, and I'm still researching it, but, well, it looks reasonable.
If every squad would beach at, more or less, the same time, in a smaller area of the beach, to keep more or less, in a small cluster of fellow neighbourhs and slaves that knew ones anothers, we have only 20 beaching operations. Considering the complexer method, let's suppose they took the whole hour to beach the squad. This makes, if we still allow 3 beaching operations (each side of the beach, and center, and the next wave using the open spaces, according to the tide), then we have 20/3 < 7... Less than 7 hours. Better, but still insufficient.
Maybe they could do such beaching operations in bigger waves (4 or 5 places at the same time), who knows? a more normal sized navy of 90-100 trierei, would use some 3 hours in this way. A lot, but still maneageable. maybe the Kyprian (later Egyptian) Expedition was of such a scale that it wasn't meant to be beached, but after disembarking, the ships would stay at the sea, harassing the Kyprian harbors...
At this moment, I am skillfully ignoring these issues, but I am all too well aware of them, for the next revision of the draft. So many things to learn! On the other hand, these kind of things are important, because they may explain many things that are obscure in so many historical, military events. Hoplology and Sciences may help to disentangle many historical, dark sources, when put to a good use. This calls for a marriage (or, at least, a "getting along") between all Disciplines of Human Knowledge, all pushing in the same direction, with rythm.
Like the oarsmen of a trieres.
And speaking of troubled waters, the novel is sailing forward at a good pace (considering I'm mostly writing it while I commute from home to work and back on the train). Don't you love writing on the go?