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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Coins (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: Seeking Ship Enthusiasts and visual comms experts (I have a question). 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Seeking Ship Enthusiasts and visual comms experts (I have a question).  (Read 4576 times)
Andrew McCabe
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« on: May 09, 2012, 04:08:54 am »

Dear Ship Enthusiasts and Graphic Design Experts

I have a question. I made the diagram below for an article I am writing on Republican bronzes. An expert on ship design challenged me on the (common) use of the word 'deckhouse' to describe the rectangular object that appears on the centre of the deck of Republican bronzes, usually on top of a fighting platform. He thinks the rectangular object is a corvus or harpago, in a schematic view. I attach 2 pictures below, one showing parts of the ship (my terminology) and the other also showing an elevated corvus, from Wallinga's 1956 book on the subject. So, my assumption has been that the line and the rectangle on top of the prow were a deckhouse and some tiller mechanism. But could I be wrong? Might that line and rectangle represent a corvus in some schematic way? Still given that the rectangular object often comes with a little peaked top, like a peaked roof, it seemed very likely it was an enclosure on deck, which is why I called it a deckhouse. Am I wrong? Does anyone have a view?

(bigger diagrams saved to Forum below, this thumbnail is just a teaser - please open the thread to see the picture).


Please, please, I want your opinions on this! Also any experts in graphic design who can visualise what the schematics were meant to translate as.

Wikipedia: The corvus ("crow" in Latin) or harpago (probably the correct ancient name)[1] was a Roman military boarding device used in naval warfare during the First Punic War against Carthage. In Chapters 1.22-4-11 of his History, Polybius describes this device as a bridge 1.2 m (4 ft) wide and 10.9 m (36 ft) long, with a small parapet on both sides. The engine was probably used in the prow of the ship, where a system of pulleys and a pole allowed the bridge to be raised and lowered. There was a heavy spike shaped as a bird's beak on the underside of the device. The spike was designed to pierce the enemy ship's deck when the boarding-bridge was lowered. This allowed a firm grip between the vessels and a route for the legionaries to cross to the other ship.
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2012, 07:01:18 am »

Nice!  Unfortunately, despite 21 years in the Navy, I can't help with your question. 
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2012, 10:34:51 am »

Try:

Roman Warships by Michael Pitassi;

The Influence of Sea Power on Ancient History by Chester G. Starr;

Greek and Roman naval warfare: A study of strategy, tactics, and ship design by William Ledyard Rodgers;

Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson;

The Ancient Mariners by Lionel Casson

They all have diagrams of at least early imperial warships.  Based on your post, I would say that the design on the coin has more to do with the boarding apparatus, rather than a deckhouse.  The tiller was normally operated in the stern by the pilot.  The design on the coin is clearly the ramming prow.
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2012, 12:02:07 pm »

Many thanks for replies I received on and offlist. Here is my compound reply to all who I cannot reply to or thank individually!

- The main purpose of my question (if it was not clear) was to find a name for the rectangular/square box with a line through it that appears on nearly every Roman Republican coin, which on my diagram is marked "deckhouse or corvus". Nothing else. That's my sole question. I am just trying to figure out what that item is. I've names and a clear understanding of everything else on the ship.

- More than one person has said that, even allowing for odd conventions of how things are shown on coins, it probably can't represent items at the back of the ship. So tiller mechanisms are probably not it

- I'm grateful for the suggestion on books I've received. In addition to Roman Warships by Michael Pitassi; The Influence of Sea Power on Ancient History by Chester G. Starr; Greek and Roman naval warfare: A study of strategy, tactics, and ship design by William Ledyard Rodgers; Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson; The Ancient Mariners by Lionel Casson; I would like to add an old book dedicated to the corvus, The Boarding Bridge of the Romans by H.T. Wallinga, and a very new book dedicated to the prow design, PRORAE, La Prima Prua di Nave sulle Monete della Repubblica Roman by Antonio Morello, both which books are in my library

- Several people have steered me towards Morello's book which suggests that the rectangle/line under debate may be a stylised corvus. Part of his arguments are that there is nothing else at the front of the ship, and as the corvus was a rectangular gangway supported by a pole, this may be a fair representation. But Morello recognises it might also be a  "capstan" i.e. the thing used to wind the ropes, or simply a "hatch" (entrance to lower part of ship). If a capstan it would make sense that there is a line on either end - for grabbing hold of to wind the ropes. Why any of these items would sometimes be shown with a peaked top is unclear.

- One person pointed out that the reference to Harpago (which I got on the Wiki article on corvus) is misleading. They are very different things, harpago being a sort of harpoon, corvus being a boarding bridge

For now I am inclined to write "Corvus or Capstan"

again many thanks to all who replied

Andrew
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2012, 07:53:44 pm »

Andrew
Always apprieciate your posts - they tend to open my eyes to see other things.

Looking through some auctions tonight and I noticed two coins that seem to hint at an answer.
One shows what looks like a mast rising from the square structure. The other shows a mast and sail rising from the structure.

Perhaps it is a depiction of the forward mast base?
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2012, 08:10:07 pm »

Andrew
Always apprieciate your posts - they tend to open my eyes to see other things.

Looking through some auctions tonight and I noticed two coins that seem to hint at an answer.
One shows what looks like a mast rising from the square structure. The other shows a mast and sail rising from the structure.

Perhaps it is a depiction of the forward mast base?

I appreciate the reply but. oddly you chose two accidentally inappropriate examples to weigh in on this particular theme, but instructive examples nevertheless, because in both cases the items you mention are normally completely separate from the prow; in these two coins their placement shows them stuck on the prow but this is not usual. On your first coin the "mast" is the value mark (the number 1) sitting on the prow. The second example does indeed show a mast and sail,but among early Republican bronzes it is the only coin type to show a mast and sail, and in this case the mast and sail is a mintmark and not part of the design, and usually separated from the prow! So in neither case are the features part of the design. But the idea of a mast-base is a very good one.

Look below those features and you see on the deck of the prow, a square box with a flat top, a line to the left and the right, and below the box/lines, another line. We have long worked out, from my labelled picture above, that the bottom line is the "fighting platform". On your two asses, the bottom line is a degenerated version of the shape called "fighting platform" in my above picture that contains a club. And on my labelled picture that "fighting platform" has a shape that corresponds with what is seen on ancient Roman pictures of ships. I show the fighting platform in green in the picture below.

The question is (reiterating the first point in my last note) - WHAT do the square box with the line to the left and right represent. It appears on my early labelled coin dating from 115 BC, and it appears on the two later coins dating from maybe 150BC. That is my sole question. Nothing else. It is only about the square box with the line to the left and right of it. And since it appears on every single bronze coin for more than 100 years, the engravers must have known what they were engraving! But  I don't.

Once again, for clarity, I reproduce 77HK77's coin below with the relevant part marked in red. It is the thing in red I am trying to figure out. It is tough precisely because there is not an obvious solution that one could see by looking at pictures of galleys.

A capstan wheel, with the left and right lines being the poles you use to turn it? A hatch with two symbolic poles perhaps representing a laid-down mast to left and right? The base of the mast with the actual mast laid down? The corvus (boarding bridge) laid down? It beats me. But its consistent repitition over 100 years indicates to me that it is not a random decorative feature. We are just not yet bright enough to figure out what. But the Romans knew what those lines meant.
 
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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2012, 08:38:40 pm »

You can tell I don't collect Republican bronzes.

"But the Romans knew what those lines meant" is a very true statement so It should be something universally recognizable to a Roman of the time and have some meaning.
As you stated the consistency of depicting the object spans 100 years

Could it be a object found on earlier ships, dropped from the ship design in later years but still a recognized feature to the average Roman

For example - Something similar to an 19th century crows nest on a  sailing vessel being recognizable to a steam powered late 20th century citizen.

HK
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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2012, 08:49:55 pm »

"But the Romans knew what those lines meant" is a very true statement so It should be something universally recognizable to a Roman of the time and have some meaning.
As you stated the consistency of depicting the object spans 100 years

Could it be a object found on earlier ships, dropped from the ship design in later years but still a recognized feature to the average Roman?  

For example - Something similar to an 19th century crows nest on a  sailing vessel being recognizable to a steam powered late 20th century citizen.

That's why your idea of a mast base + laid down mast are appealing to me. Isn't it curious that Republican bronzes with prows never show an actual mast or sail (with the single exception you came across)?

Perhaps there is something really obvious that we are missing - such as the mast and sail being taken down for fighting and that's all it is. Or perhaps on the early bronzes it was a laid down corvus and the design degenerated long after the corvus ceased to be used (it was a first Punic war feature). Or perhaps, even simpler, the schematic represents generic ships equipment - poles, blocks and the like. Morello in PRORAE suggests it is a laid-down corvus because he thinks he sees the design change from 250 BC onwards, and in its first manifestation during the first Punic war, corvus was a more likely solution.

I still need to find a generic name for those things for my article. Am scratching my head. The article runs to 100 pages and this object is cited on most pages several times. I can't write "uncertain corvus / mast-base / hatch / capstan / sailing equipment" several times per page!!!

Perhaps the answer is to call it a "deck-box" in the article and then up front be clear that we've no idea what this object is.


(later edit for the benefit of later readers of this entire thread - I concluded that the item in question is in fact a corvus; for a full reasoning see Antonio Morello's essay on:
http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Corvus.html
and my reply to his essay on
http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Corvus.html#comments  )
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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2012, 09:08:15 pm »

How about - upper deck structure

Bit long but accurate.

Interesting comment in the mast vs corvus. If it depicts a mast dropped for fighting that implies a very different meaning than the Corvus lowered for peaceful sailing....maybe the answer is in what is not there.

If neither is present, only the base depicted, does it imply a ship at "rest" or perhaps a ship "not threaten".

You have my imagination spinning Andrew

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« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2012, 06:44:40 pm »

 Here is a structure with what looks to be a gable roof. 

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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2012, 12:42:20 am »

Seen from front.
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2012, 02:10:02 am »

Seen from front.


Yes thanks Benito. It's that thing with the pointy top. Sometimes it doesn't have a pointy top. I don't know what it is. That's a great choice of coin to illustrate it.

Marvin Tameanko wrote to me and suggested the thing with the pointy top is the fighting castle/tower ('naves turritae' in Latin) for archers and slingers. But I presumed that was the object below which I call the "fighting platform".

(later edit again: the two gabled items on the prior two coins - bull and MD as, and Fonteia denarius), depict different things. We know this because both items appear in separate places on the one coin - an as of Fonteia shown later in this thread. So, despite the fact that both have a triangle in their design, they are not the same thing)
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« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2012, 02:42:46 am »

Another coin with the same pointed structure fore and aft.
Could it be that  the "tarpaulin" shown in my first coin was pulled over these structures to give shade to the deck ?
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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2012, 02:50:13 am »

Given the 50 different suggestions I've received, I'm inclined to go with "deck structure" and let others in the future worry about it. It's clear that the objects on the deck of the Fonteia are the same objects on the decks of later RR bronzes, but on earlier RR bronzes other objects appear on top of a massive and extended structure that does not appear at all on the Fonteias, but that is shown (with a club inside it) in my earlier picture of a bronze.

(later edit - it's now clear to me, from the discussion on the Fonteia As, which shows both the same object as on early RR bronzes, and separately the peaked object on the Fonteia denarius, that the Fonteia denarius depiction has nothing to do with the objects depicted on RR bronzes of 100 years earlier)
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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2012, 03:37:37 am »

(deleted my comment about the Fonteia peaked structure matching the below description, as clearly later evidence in this thread shows it is not the same thing).

(Polybius quote still stands though I dont think that it refers to reality, but thats another matter. It refers to a form of reality, ie what Polybius thought)

(Polybius, 1:22,3-11, trans. H.T.Wallinga, The Boarding Bridge of the Romans, 1956): “Because their ships were inferior in build and slow-moving, someone suggested to them, as a help in the battle, the machines that afterwards were named “corvus”, of which the construction was like this: A round pole stood on the prow, four fathoms long and three palms in diameter. That pole had a tackle-block at the top. Round it was put up a ladder, on which cross-planks had been nailed, so the result was a gangway, four feet wide and six fathoms long. The aperture in the planking was oblong and it went round the pole right after the first two fathoms of the ladder. The gangway also had a railing along each of its long sides, as high as a mans knee. At its end something like a pointed pestle was attached, made of iron, at the upper end of which there was a ring, so that the whole looked like the machines used in the working of corn. To that ring was fastened a rope, with which, as soon as the ships charged, they raised the corvus by means of the tackle-block on the pole and dropped them on the deck of the enemy ship, sometimes forward, sometimes bringing them around to meet flank attacks. As soon as the corvus was fixed in the planks of the decks, and joined the ships together, if they met side-to-side they sprang on board from all sides, but if they met prow-to-prow, they made their attack over the corvus itself, two abreast. The men who led the way protected the front by holding up their shields, and those who followed covered the flanks by resting the rims of their shields on the railing. Having, then, adopted this device, they waited for an opportunity to give battle.
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« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2012, 07:23:55 am »

Andrew,

Where do you see the boarding bridge on the Fonteia denarius?
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« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2012, 07:38:42 am »

Andrew,

Where do you see the boarding bridge on the Fonteia denarius?

The entire railed section could be it (a ladder or gangplank shown on its side). But I've moved from that view in the light of a lot more reading and I now think that the Fonteia coin does not show a boarding bridge at all. If the boarding bridge were to be a much simpler fulcrum/lever mechanism then in fact it does correspond to the entire arrangement on top of the fighting platform on RR bronzes:



In my updated view, the boarding bridge is that extended platform (the single line that points left on the above coin, and points right on the below coin), and the peaked object is no more than the fulcrum point; the slanted down line to its right is the counterbalance used to swing the corvus onto another ship.

This is someone else's idea (Antonio Morello), but backed up by the fact that earlier Aes Grave types, that probably were made in memory of the first Punic war, show a clear PIN or fulcrum in the place of what would degenerate in time into a peaked object then a square object (lost in the mist of time). Again note the slanting down counterbalance on the left on this coin, which could be used to swing over the line (boarding platform, corvus) extended at right.



Polybius' details may be fanciful but on one point he is probably right on target - that the mechanism is like a corn-mill. What does a mill look like? It's typically a rotational arrangement with a long pole used to lever the central weight. The corvus would then be its inverse, a short counterbalance used to lever a long platform onto an enemy ship.

Please watch this space (I've been reading non-stop on this subject for three days now, and am confident enough to have created a web-page on the subject; publication imminent).
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« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2012, 08:58:19 am »

Is it generally recognized that the Fonteia denarius shows the front of the galley with a twist in perspective, allowing the viewer to see the apotropaic eyes on both sides of the prow, and the oars on the back side too, which are shown protruding forward from the prow?
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« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2012, 08:58:50 am »

In my reading and discussions on Roman prow designs over the last few days, I have found one good solution to the questions raised on this list, that to me seems evidently correct. It is the solution presented by Antonio Morello in his book PRORAE, La Prima Prua di Nave sulle Monete della Repubblica Romana, Origine di un simbolo imperituro del potere di Roma, un inno a Caio Duilio; Antonio Morello, Liberia Classica Editrice Diana, 2008.

Antonio has kindly agreed to summarise key points of his book, in an essay on the subject, with a special focus on the history of the first Punic war and the relationship between that history and the design of the Roman Republican prow bronzes, and most specifically the corvus as shown on those coins. In Antonio's own words, here is the new web-page:

http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Corvus.html

I support Antonio's views on the corvus and the likely historical derivation of the design, including the technical aspects of ship design. I also support what Antonio says on the later evolution of the design on Republican coinage.

The exact dating of the aes grave series, RRC 35 and RRC 36, could be a matter for future discussion. It is enough to know that, based on the depiction of the prows on RR bronzes, that RRC 35 and RRC 36 must post-date 260 BC, whether by some years or many years.

For those further interested in the subject, I can recommend Antonio's book - it is produced to exceptionally high production standards and is lavishly illustrated with high quality photographs on almost all of its 200 or so large-format pages, and is very comprehensively researched. By the standards of numismatic books, it is an amazing bargain. It can be purchased here:
http://www.classicadiana.it/libreria/content/morello-prorae-la-prima-prua-di-nave-sulle-monete-della-repubblica-romana

Andrew

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« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2012, 11:49:10 am »

This additional diagram, now included on the new page, may make the arrangement clearer. The lower part of the diagram are the views commonly seen on Roman Republican struck bronzes. The upper part of the diagram is what is seen on Aes Grave, which date close to when the corvus was actually used (in the first Punic war) thus should be more reliable. You can see from this that the representation on struck bronzes is schematic, and probably in later years (long after the corvus ceased being used) may have been purely schematic - the engravers might not have known what they were engraving. Think, in schematic terms, of a child's see-saw viewed from the side.



If interested in specific aspects only, you can find:

The story of Gaius Duilius, the battle of Mylae, and his censorship with Lucius Cornelius Scipio:
http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Corvus.html#intro

Polybius and the Corvus:
http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Corvus.html#polybius

Later first Punic war, naval upsets, and changes to ship design:
http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Corvus.html#ships

The corvus on Roman Republican bronzes:
http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Corvus.html#corvus

regards

Andrew
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« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2012, 12:48:29 pm »

Finally, I've amended the diagram we started with (after Polybius) to show the diagram after Morello:



You might ask how sure I am that this is right. Well, it feels right to me, both as regards the mechanical engineering of the original design, and the correspondence with coin types, and the graphic design elements. This is how I would, today, schematically show a see-saw in a sideways view, and that was the task facing a Roman engraver. For those who doubt my depiction of the round-shaped pin or fulcrum or hinge on which the corvus would have rotated, see below a picture of an early Aes Grave, close in time to when the corvus would have been used, with just such a hinge.



Right or wrong, I think this is what I'll go with for the moment. Thanks for all the support. Disagreement and other views are still very welcome of course.

Andrew
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« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2012, 01:52:56 pm »

Andrew,

Seems to me possible, but by no means proven.

The fact that the "fulcrum" is depicted as a square structure, then gets a pointed roof, then is depicted with the roof and attached to a platform on the Fonteia denarius, while Benito's second denarius shows two such roofed structures standing by themselves fore and aft, seems to cast doubt on its interpretation as a fulcrum.

I would regard the interpretation of these structures as still unknown, until more solid proof can be adduced!
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« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2012, 02:37:31 pm »

Andrew,

Seems to me possible, but by no means proven.

The fact that the "fulcrum" is depicted as a square structure, then gets a pointed roof, then is depicted with the roof and attached to a platform on the Fonteia denarius, while Benito's second denarius shows two such roofed structures standing by themselves fore and aft, seems to cast doubt on its interpretation as a fulcrum.

I would regard the interpretation of these structures as still unknown, until more solid proof can be adduced!

Curtis,

Sure, it is not proven, but I must say that I am a convert, and I guess as prow bronzes are my area, that matters at least to me.

Morello's several hundred page book is pretty exhaustively researched, and written by a miltary naval engineer (meaning he discusses at length the practicalities of military movements in battle, as well as prior versions of the corvus and of 1st Punic war engagements). Sometimes, after looking at a problem for a very long time, someone sees the neat solution and I think this is it. Being in Italian, of course it has not disseminated widely, but my new webpage is intended to share his ideas.

The key convincer for me is that the fulcrum is NOT depicted as a square structure until decades after the prow type starts. That's the basis of Morello's argument. The fulcrum is depicted as a pin with a round top or with a upside-U top through which a pole could be slotted.

If I can be punny, I would say that is the fulcrum of the argument - we've been looking at the wrong coins (late derivatives of prow designs) rather than coins made coincident with when the corvus existed. For the early coins, aes grave, the fulcrum looks exactly what an engineer would draw if asked to design a simple fulcrum, and not like a square box or a peaked box. Morello's book has tons of high quality photos of such coins.

A reinforcing argument is that the design of long-horizontal-at-left, short-slightly-sloped-at-right, occurs on most except the worst engraved bronzes. It's exactly what you would expect to draw, if asked to draw a lever. It is an archetypal lever design, in this case a lever that swivelled and tilted. Think lifting barrier, but with a swivel ability, and you have it exactly.

Only long after the prow aes grave started (I for one don't believe the first prow bronzes could possibly have started as late as 225 BC, given their immense volume) is the design simplified to a square box or a peaked box for the purposes of the struck bronzes. The box starts small and square (with the original fulcrum no doubt still in mind) and degenerates into the wide box shape that bears little resemblence to the original.

Benito's coin is probably not showing a corvus at all, and if it is, its 150 years after the last corvus was used in anger so its design would be a guess. If it is a real ship of 100 BC then there would be no corvus. If it was an imaginary ship with corvus, then its an imaginary design. Morello says that after the last quarter of the 2nd century BC, coins gave up any attempt to show a stylised corvus, and show instead other deck structures (the fighting platform as the main item) or just a flat deck.

Andrew
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« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2012, 03:03:09 pm »

Andrew,

I take it there are no indubitable depictions of the boarding bridge in Roman art?

How do we know that the early bronzes intended to depict this device, or that the boarding bridges had counterweights or operating handles, which Polybius doesn't seem to mention?

Strange that a fulcrum, even later, should be depicted as a square structure and then get a roof, and that such structures should be repeated on the later denarii, apparently without relation to a boarding bridge.

Surely you will admit yourself that Morello's interpretation is just a suggestion, and doesn't amount to proven fact?
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« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2012, 03:34:42 pm »

Andrew,

I take it there are no indubitable depictions of the boarding bridge in Roman art?

How do we know that the early bronzes intended to depict this device, or that the boarding bridges had counterweights or operating handles, which Polybius doesn't seem to mention?

Strange that a fulcrum, even later, should be depicted as a square structure and then get a roof, and that such structures should be repeated on the later denarii, apparently without relation to a boarding bridge.

Surely you will admit yourself that Morello's interpretation is just a suggestion, and doesn't amount to proven fact?

Curtis

Of course I admit his interpretation does not amount to proven fact. In fact in my last message I said so.
Sure, it is not proven,

But I am bringing my judgement to bear on this. There are tons of depictions of ships in Morello's book as well as exhaustive discussion on Polybius, but none that show either Polybius' idea (of a pulley) or Morello's (of a swivel). There's a lot of reference to other authors who point out that the pulley version is nautically virtually impossible, as well as to the multitude of references to the Corvus (whatever it was) giving a big surprise to the Carthaginians.

This is, now, a matter of judgment that the swivel idea fits both nautical plausibility as well as the pictures on the coins far better than any other explanation for that odd structure on the coins. I've never seen or read until now an even vaguely plausible explanation for that part of how the prow is shown on coins. The reference to how they were shown on the early aes grave,  typically how a fulcrum would be shown, nailed it for me.

As for the late coins, I don't think the square with hat on Fonteia necessarily has anything to do with  a square with hat on a coin of 200 BC. The Fonteia coin gives a lot of extra context that suggests it may not be showing the same thing. Unless the engravers were very old I doubt they could have communicated the sign-convention over such a long time.

It is my judgment call that Morello is right on this. Not a proven fact, but I bring my experience as a mechanical engineer to bear on this. What is shown is just a much better engineering design, and corresponds well with the coins. In the coda to the new web-page, I've written a comment:

http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Corvus.html#comments

Which says among other things:

"[Morello] shared with me, through a long series of personal correspondence, his views on the prow design bronzes. He did so in a very gentle and persuasive manner, acknowledged the degree of doubt that remained, and urged me to be cautious about giving definitive answers on this subject".

and

"he has, in my view, hit on a simple solution for a topic that has baffled numismatists for centuries, and done so through very careful research and the examination of large number of coins. The solution feels right to me, as regards the mechanical engineering of the original design, the correspondence with coin types, and the graphic design elements. "

So I think he is correct, and will probably continue to think so unless someone provides convincing alternatives, researched to the same extent. Of course its easier to say "we have no idea, nothing can be proved", but that's a route to knowing nothing in the end.
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