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Diekplous!
or something thereabouts …
PD Dr. Jorit Wintjes
Lehrstuhl für Alte Geschichte, Universität Würzburg
I. Introduction: Naval Warfare in the
Ancient World – quite important…
The Ancients and the Sea.
Large-scale naval warfare did end with Actium, did it not?
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Blue – 1st c. AD, Red – 2nd c. AD,...
Some pleasant truths about ancient naval warfare …
1. Ancient naval warfare features prominently throughout
ancient history.
Some pleasant truths about ancient naval warfare...
1. Ancient naval warfare features prominently throughout
ancient history.
2. The importance of naval warfare is reflected ...
1. Ancient naval warfare features prominently throughout
ancient history.
2. The importance of naval warfare is reflected ...
Of known unknowns and unknown unknowns…
Present-day knowledge about ancient land and naval warfare compared
Of known unknowns and unknown unknowns…
100
Present-day knowledge about ancient land and naval warfare compared
sea – land...
Of known unknowns and unknown unknowns…
100
Present-day knowledge about ancient land and naval warfare compared
30-35
sea ...
Of known unknowns and unknown unknowns…
100
Present-day knowledge about ancient land and naval warfare compared
30-35
sea ...
… and some rather unpleasant truths about ancient naval warfare.
4. Much less knowledge is lost about land warfare than about
naval warfare.
=> most obvious in weapons & equipment = techn...
4. Much less knowledge is lost about land warfare than about
naval warfare.
=> most obvious in weapons & equipment = techn...
4. Much less knowledge is lost about land warfare than about
naval warfare.
=> most obvious in weapons & equipment = techn...
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin, 1863
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
~350 Carthaginian ships vs. ~330 Roman ships
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
~350 Carthaginian ships vs. ~330 Roman ships
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
~350 Carthaginian ships vs. ~330 Roman ships
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
A standard reconstruction of the sequence of events.
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
A standard reconstruction of the sequence of events.
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
A standard reconstruction of the sequence of events.
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
The nasty truth about Quinqueremes: they are big...
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
The nasty truth about Quinqueremes: they are big...
width of the ship...
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
The nasty truth about Quinqueremes: they are big...
10 ships = 50m; 2...
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
The nasty truth about Quinqueremes: they are big...
10 ships = 50m; 2...
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
What, then, happened at Ecnomus?
~150 ships
A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC
What, then, happened at Ecnomus?
~150 ships
half a ship-length in
bet...
II. Simulations – a possible solution?
Simulations are everywhere, and have been for quite some time …
Types of simulations
physical
simulations
interactive
simulations
Types of simulations
physical
simulations
Types of simulations
physical
simulations
Environmental change
(rivers, coastlines etc.).
Types of simulations
physical
simulations
Environmental change
(rivers, coastlines etc.).
Testing and validating the
recon...
Types of simulations
interactive
simulations
Types of simulations
interactive
simulations
Influence of human
decision-making on
sequence of events
Types of simulations
interactive
simulations
Influence of human
decision-making on
sequence of events
General process /
sy...
Systems analysis is great – but what exactly is the system?
Systems analysis is great – but what exactly is the system?
large group of ships –
fleet
Systems analysis is great – but what exactly is the system?
large group of ships –
fleet
small group of ships –
squadron
Systems analysis is great – but what exactly is the system?
large group of ships –
fleet
small group of ships –
squadron
I...
A couple of – rather unsettling – statements on simulations
A couple of – rather unsettling – statements on simulations
1. Interactive simulations are a proven method for training in...
A couple of – rather unsettling – statements on simulations
1. Interactive simulations are a proven method for training in...
A couple of – rather unsettling – statements on simulations
1. Interactive simulations are a proven method for training in...
III. Diekplous! – The project
The known knowns and the known unknowns …
The known knowns and the known unknowns …
Olympias from above
The known knowns and the known unknowns …
Olympias from above
36,9 m
5,5 m 10 m
Available data on ancient naval warfare
Available data on ancient naval warfare
1. Significant amount of performance data from trireme
reconstruction Olympias.
=>...
Available data on ancient naval warfare
1. Significant amount of performance data from trireme
reconstruction Olympias.
=>...
Available data on ancient naval warfare
The kyklos –
example involving
24 ships
250 m
Available data on ancient naval warfare
1. Significant amount of performance data from trireme
reconstruction Olympias.
=>...
Main purpose of Diekplous!
Main purpose of Diekplous!
1. Establishing a tactical simulation of a 5th c. trireme allowing
to exploit the capabilities ...
Main purpose of Diekplous!
1. Establishing a tactical simulation of a 5th c. trireme allowing
to exploit the capabilities ...
Main purpose of Diekplous!
1. Establishing a tactical simulation of a 5th c. trireme allowing
to exploit the capabilities ...
Main purpose of Diekplous!
1. Establishing a tactical simulation of a 5th c. trireme allowing
to exploit the capabilities ...
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[DCSB] Jorit Wintjes (University of Würzburg), “Diekplous! – understanding ancient naval warfare through simulations”

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Throughout Greek and Roman history, naval warfare played a prominent role. Gaining, exerting and contesting sea power was an important characteristic of many a conflict from the Archaic period right down to Late Antiquity; indeed, from the Persian to the Punic wars, contesting control of the sea was often at the very centre of the conflict. Yet despite its importance naval power in general and naval action in particular is extremely poorly understood, and already the most basic questions regarding an ancient naval action – what could and what did actually happen – remain to this day mostly unanswered.

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[DCSB] Jorit Wintjes (University of Würzburg), “Diekplous! – understanding ancient naval warfare through simulations”

  1. 1. Diekplous! or something thereabouts … PD Dr. Jorit Wintjes Lehrstuhl für Alte Geschichte, Universität Würzburg
  2. 2. I. Introduction: Naval Warfare in the Ancient World – quite important…
  3. 3. The Ancients and the Sea.
  4. 4. Large-scale naval warfare did end with Actium, did it not?               Blue – 1st c. AD, Red – 2nd c. AD, Green – 3rd c. AD, Black – 4th c. AD                
  5. 5. Some pleasant truths about ancient naval warfare …
  6. 6. 1. Ancient naval warfare features prominently throughout ancient history. Some pleasant truths about ancient naval warfare …
  7. 7. 1. Ancient naval warfare features prominently throughout ancient history. 2. The importance of naval warfare is reflected by the available evidence. => literary evidence. => epigraphic evidence. => iconographic evidence. => archaeological evidence. Some pleasant truths about ancient naval warfare …
  8. 8. 1. Ancient naval warfare features prominently throughout ancient history. 2. The importance of naval warfare is reflected by the available evidence. => literary evidence. => epigraphic evidence. => iconographic evidence. => archaeological evidence. 3. Naval warfare is inherently complex – and was already so in antiquity. Some pleasant truths about ancient naval warfare …
  9. 9. Of known unknowns and unknown unknowns… Present-day knowledge about ancient land and naval warfare compared
  10. 10. Of known unknowns and unknown unknowns… 100 Present-day knowledge about ancient land and naval warfare compared sea – land antiquity
  11. 11. Of known unknowns and unknown unknowns… 100 Present-day knowledge about ancient land and naval warfare compared 30-35 sea – land antiquity technology 5-10
  12. 12. Of known unknowns and unknown unknowns… 100 Present-day knowledge about ancient land and naval warfare compared 30-35 sea – land antiquity technology operations 5-10 0-… 10-15
  13. 13. … and some rather unpleasant truths about ancient naval warfare.
  14. 14. 4. Much less knowledge is lost about land warfare than about naval warfare. => most obvious in weapons & equipment = technology. … and some rather unpleasant truths about ancient naval warfare.
  15. 15. 4. Much less knowledge is lost about land warfare than about naval warfare. => most obvious in weapons & equipment = technology. 5. The available evidence offers little information on technology and significantly less on operations. => no corpus of naval “taktika” extant. … and some rather unpleasant truths about ancient naval warfare.
  16. 16. 4. Much less knowledge is lost about land warfare than about naval warfare. => most obvious in weapons & equipment = technology. 5. The available evidence offers little information on technology and significantly less on operations. => no corpus of naval “taktika” extant. 6. At sea, even more so than on land, it is all about operations. => a key part of the overall picture is missing! … and some rather unpleasant truths about ancient naval warfare.
  17. 17. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin, 1863
  18. 18. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC ~350 Carthaginian ships vs. ~330 Roman ships
  19. 19. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC ~350 Carthaginian ships vs. ~330 Roman ships
  20. 20. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC ~350 Carthaginian ships vs. ~330 Roman ships
  21. 21. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC A standard reconstruction of the sequence of events.
  22. 22. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC A standard reconstruction of the sequence of events.
  23. 23. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC A standard reconstruction of the sequence of events.
  24. 24. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC The nasty truth about Quinqueremes: they are big...
  25. 25. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC The nasty truth about Quinqueremes: they are big... width of the ship: 5m width of the ship including oarsmen: ~ 10m!
  26. 26. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC The nasty truth about Quinqueremes: they are big... 10 ships = 50m; 2 squadrons = 150 ships in this „formation“: 750m – outrigger to outrigger! width of the ship: 5m width of the ship including oarsmen: ~ 10m!
  27. 27. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC The nasty truth about Quinqueremes: they are big... 10 ships = 50m; 2 squadrons = 150 ships in this „formation“: 750m – outrigger to outrigger! width of the ship: 5m width of the ship including oarsmen: ~ 10m! 5 ships = 50m; 150 ships in this formation: 1.500m – oars to oars!
  28. 28. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC What, then, happened at Ecnomus? ~150 ships
  29. 29. A quick example – the Battle of Cape Ecnomus, 256 BC What, then, happened at Ecnomus? ~150 ships half a ship-length in between ships: ~3.750m one ship-length in between ships: ~6.000m
  30. 30. II. Simulations – a possible solution?
  31. 31. Simulations are everywhere, and have been for quite some time …
  32. 32. Types of simulations physical simulations interactive simulations
  33. 33. Types of simulations physical simulations
  34. 34. Types of simulations physical simulations Environmental change (rivers, coastlines etc.).
  35. 35. Types of simulations physical simulations Environmental change (rivers, coastlines etc.). Testing and validating the reconstruction of ancient architecture, technology etc.
  36. 36. Types of simulations interactive simulations
  37. 37. Types of simulations interactive simulations Influence of human decision-making on sequence of events
  38. 38. Types of simulations interactive simulations Influence of human decision-making on sequence of events General process / systems analysis
  39. 39. Systems analysis is great – but what exactly is the system?
  40. 40. Systems analysis is great – but what exactly is the system? large group of ships – fleet
  41. 41. Systems analysis is great – but what exactly is the system? large group of ships – fleet small group of ships – squadron
  42. 42. Systems analysis is great – but what exactly is the system? large group of ships – fleet small group of ships – squadron Individual ship
  43. 43. A couple of – rather unsettling – statements on simulations
  44. 44. A couple of – rather unsettling – statements on simulations 1. Interactive simulations are a proven method for training in and transmitting knowledge of processes ... => … which are known in detail …  … which is not the case with ancient naval ops!
  45. 45. A couple of – rather unsettling – statements on simulations 1. Interactive simulations are a proven method for training in and transmitting knowledge of processes ... => … which are known in detail …  … which is not the case with ancient naval ops! 2. Interactive simulations are a proven method for analyzing systems and processes … => where the result does not match expectations ground in knowledge of the nature of the system/process.  There is no such knowledge with ancient naval ops!
  46. 46. A couple of – rather unsettling – statements on simulations 1. Interactive simulations are a proven method for training in and transmitting knowledge of processes ... => … which are known in detail …  … which is not the case with ancient naval ops! 2. Interactive simulations are a proven method for analyzing systems and processes … => where the result does not match expectations ground in knowledge of the nature of the system/process.  There is no such knowledge with ancient naval ops! 3. Interactive Simulations work best if there is only one variable element in a set of otherwise known factors.  “known factors” is not a terribly accurate description of what is known about ancient naval operations…
  47. 47. III. Diekplous! – The project
  48. 48. The known knowns and the known unknowns …
  49. 49. The known knowns and the known unknowns … Olympias from above
  50. 50. The known knowns and the known unknowns … Olympias from above 36,9 m 5,5 m 10 m
  51. 51. Available data on ancient naval warfare
  52. 52. Available data on ancient naval warfare 1. Significant amount of performance data from trireme reconstruction Olympias. => Allows for a moderately precise reconstruction of tactical capabilities  Olympias is a “floating hypothesis” (B. Rankov)!
  53. 53. Available data on ancient naval warfare 1. Significant amount of performance data from trireme reconstruction Olympias. => Allows for a moderately precise reconstruction of tactical capabilities  Olympias is a “floating hypothesis” (B. Rankov)! 2. Data on tactical/operational procedures can also be taken from literary sources.  Often poor level of detail.
  54. 54. Available data on ancient naval warfare The kyklos – example involving 24 ships 250 m
  55. 55. Available data on ancient naval warfare 1. Significant amount of performance data from trireme reconstruction Olympias. => Allows for a moderately precise reconstruction of tactical capabilities  Olympias is a “floating hypothesis” (B. Rankov)! 2. Data on tactical/operational procedures can also be taken from literary sources.  Often poor level of detail. 3. With polyreme warfare being fundamentally similar to trireme warfare, data is to some extent relevant to Hellenistic and later polyremes…  Really?
  56. 56. Main purpose of Diekplous!
  57. 57. Main purpose of Diekplous! 1. Establishing a tactical simulation of a 5th c. trireme allowing to exploit the capabilities and limitations of the type.
  58. 58. Main purpose of Diekplous! 1. Establishing a tactical simulation of a 5th c. trireme allowing to exploit the capabilities and limitations of the type. 2. Putting the individual ship into the context of a multi-ship engagement. => dynamics of large-scale unit movement => C3 – issues
  59. 59. Main purpose of Diekplous! 1. Establishing a tactical simulation of a 5th c. trireme allowing to exploit the capabilities and limitations of the type. 2. Putting the individual ship into the context of a multi-ship engagement. => dynamics of large-scale unit movement => C3 – issues 3. Analyzing 5th/4th c. naval history by employing results gained from 1. and 2.
  60. 60. Main purpose of Diekplous! 1. Establishing a tactical simulation of a 5th c. trireme allowing to exploit the capabilities and limitations of the type. 2. Putting the individual ship into the context of a multi-ship engagement. => dynamics of large-scale unit movement => C3 – issues 3. Analyzing 5th/4th c. naval history by employing results gained from 1. and 2. 4. Transferring methodology and results to Hellenistic and later polyreme warfare.

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