Syracusia Timeline

Syracusia Timeline

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Ancient Greek technology

Ancient Greek technology developed during the 5th century BC, continuing up to and including the Roman period, and beyond. Inventions that are credited to the ancient Greeks include the gear, screw, rotary mills, bronze casting techniques, water clock, water organ, torsion catapult, the use of steam to operate some experimental machines and toys, and a chart to find prime numbers. Many of these inventions occurred late in the Greek period, often inspired by the need to improve weapons and tactics in war. However, peaceful uses are shown by their early development of the watermill, a device which pointed to further exploitation on a large scale under the Romans. They developed surveying and mathematics to an advanced state, and many of their technical advances were published by philosophers, like Archimedes and Heron.


In December 1758, Pitt the Elder, in his role as head of the British government, placed an order for the building of 12 ships, including a first-rate ship that would become Victory. [2] During the 18th century, Victory was one of ten first-rate ships to be constructed. [3] The outline plans were based on HMS Royal George which had been launched at Woolwich Dockyard in 1756, and the naval architect chosen to design the ship was Sir Thomas Slade who, at the time, was the Surveyor of the Navy. [4] She was designed to carry at least 100 guns. The commissioner of Chatham Dockyard was instructed to prepare a dry dock for the construction. [5] The keel was laid on 23 July 1759 in the Old Single Dock (since renamed No. 2 Dock and now Victory Dock), and a name, Victory, was chosen in October 1760. [6] In 1759, the Seven Years' War was going well for Britain land victories had been won at Quebec and Minden and naval battles had been won at Lagos and Quiberon Bay. It was the Annus Mirabilis, or Wonderful Year, and the ship's name may have been chosen to commemorate the victories [7] [8] or it may have been chosen simply because out of the seven names shortlisted, Victory was the only one not in use. [9] [10] There were some doubts whether this was a suitable name since the previous Victory had been lost with all on board in 1744. [10]

A team of 150 workmen were assigned to construct Victory ' s frame. [11] Around 6,000 trees were used in her construction, of which 90% were oak and the remainder elm, pine and fir, together with a small quantity of lignum vitae. [12] The wood of the hull was held in place by six-foot copper bolts, supported by treenails for the smaller fittings. [11] Once the ship's frame had been built, it was normal to cover it up and leave it for several months to allow the wood to dry out or "season". The end of the Seven Years' War meant that Victory remained in this condition for nearly three years, which helped her subsequent longevity. [13] [14] Work restarted in autumn 1763 and she was floated on 7 May 1765, [15] having cost £63,176 and 3 shillings, [16] the equivalent of £8.7 million today. [Note 1]

On the day of the launch, shipwright Hartly Larkin, designated "foreman afloat" for the event, suddenly realised that the ship might not fit through the dock gates. Measurements at first light confirmed his fears: the gates were at least 9½ inches too narrow. He told the news to his superior, master shipwright John Allin, who considered abandoning the launch. Larkin asked for the assistance of every available shipwright, and they hewed away enough wood from the gates with their adzes for the ship to pass safely through. [17] However, the launch itself revealed significant problems in the ship's design, including a distinct list to starboard and a tendency to sit heavily in the water such that her lower deck gunports were only 4 ft 6 in (1.4 m) above the waterline. The first of these problems was rectified after launch by increasing the ship's ballast to settle her upright on the keel. The second problem, regarding the siting of the lower gunports, could not be rectified. Instead it was noted in Victory ' s sailing instructions that these gunports would have to remain closed and unusable in rough weather. This had potential to limit Victory ' s firepower, though in practice none of her subsequent actions would be fought in rough seas. [18]

Because there was no immediate use for her, she was placed in ordinary and moored in the River Medway. [19] Internal fitting out continued over the next four years, and sea trials were completed in 1769, after which she was returned to her Medway berth. She remained there until France joined the American War of Independence in 1778. [20] Victory was now placed in active service as part of a general mobilisation against the French threat. This included arming her with a full complement of smooth bore, cast iron cannon. Her weaponry was intended to be thirty 42-pounders (19 kg) on her lower deck, twenty-eight 24-pounder long guns (11 kg) on her middle deck, and thirty 12-pounders (5 kg) on her upper deck, together with twelve 6-pounders on her quarterdeck and forecastle. In May 1778, the 42-pounders were replaced by 32-pounders (15 kg), but the 42-pounders were reinstated in April 1779 however, there were insufficient 42-pounders available and these were replaced with 32-pounder cannon again. [18]

First battle of Ushant Edit

Victory was commissioned (put on active duty) in March 1778 under Captain John Lindsay. He held that position until May 1778, when Admiral Augustus Keppel made her his flagship, and appointed Rear Admiral John Campbell (1st Captain) and Captain Jonathan Faulknor (2nd Captain). [16] Keppel put to sea from Spithead on 9 July 1778 with a force of around twenty-nine ships of the line and, on 23 July, sighted a French fleet of roughly equal force 100 miles (160 km) west of Ushant. [21] [22] The French admiral, Louis Guillouet, comte d'Orvilliers, who had orders to avoid battle, was cut off from Brest, but retained the weather gage. Manoeuvring was made difficult by changing winds and driving rain, but eventually a battle became inevitable, with the British more or less in column and the French in some confusion. However, the French managed to pass along the British line with their most advanced ships. At about a quarter to twelve, Victory opened fire on Bretagne of 110 guns, which was being followed by Ville de Paris of 90 guns. [23] The British van escaped with little loss, but Sir Hugh Palliser's rear division suffered considerably. Keppel made the signal to follow the French, but Palliser did not conform and the action was not resumed. [23] Keppel was court martialled and cleared and Palliser criticised by an inquiry before the affair turned into a political argument. [23]

Second Battle of Ushant Edit

In March 1780, Victory ' s hull was sheathed with 3,923 sheets of copper below the waterline to protect it against shipworm. [12] On 2 December 1781, the ship, now commanded by Captain Henry Cromwell and bearing the flag of Rear Admiral Richard Kempenfelt, sailed with eleven other ships of the line, a 50-gun fourth-rate, and five frigates, [24] to intercept a French convoy that had sailed from Brest on 10 December. Not knowing that the convoy was protected by twenty-one ships of the line under the command of Luc Urbain de Bouexic, comte de Guichen, Kempenfelt ordered a chase when they were sighted on 12 December and began the battle. [24] When he noted the French superiority, he contented himself with capturing fifteen sail of the convoy. The French were dispersed in a gale and forced to return home. [24]

Siege of Gibraltar Edit

Victory ' s armament was slightly upgraded in 1782 with the replacement of all of her 6-pounders with 12-pounder cannon. Later, she also carried two carronade guns, firing 68-lb (31 kg) round shot. [25]

In October 1782, Victory under Admiral Richard Howe was the fleet flagship of a powerful escort flotilla for a convoy of transports which resupplied Gibraltar in the event of a blockade by the French and Spanish navies. No resistance was encountered on entering the straits and the supplies were successfully unloaded. There was a minor engagement at the time of departure, in which Victory did not fire a shot. The British ships were under orders to return home and did so without major incident. [26] [27]

Battle of Cape St. Vincent Edit

In 1796, Captain Robert Calder (First Captain) and Captain George Grey (Second Captain), commanded Victory under Admiral Sir John Jervis's flag. [16] [28] By the end of 1796, the British position in the Mediterranean had become untenable. Jervis had stationed his fleet off Cape St Vincent to prevent the Spanish from sailing north, whilst Horatio Nelson was to oversee the evacuation of Elba. [29] [30] Once the evacuation had been accomplished, Nelson, in HMS Minerve, sailed for Gibraltar. On learning that the Spanish fleet had passed by some days previous, Nelson left to rendezvous with Jervis on 11 February. [31] The Spanish fleet, which had been blown off course by easterly gales, was that night working its way to Cadiz. [30] The darkness and a dense fog meant Nelson was able to pass through the enemy fleet without being spotted and join Jervis on 13 February. [32] Jervis, whose fleet had been reinforced on 5 February by five ships from Britain under Rear-Admiral William Parker, now had 15 ships of the line. [33] The following morning, having drawn up his fleet into two columns, Jervis impressed upon the officers on Victory ' s quarterdeck how, "A victory to England is very essential at the moment". Jervis was not aware of the size of the fleet he was facing, but at around 0630 hours, received word that five Spanish warships were to the south-east. [28] By 0900 hours the first enemy ships were visible from Victory ' s masthead, and at 1100 hours, Jervis gave the order to form line of battle. [34] As the Spanish ships became visible to him, Calder reported the numbers to Jervis, but when he reached 27, Jervis replied, "Enough, Sir. No more of that. The die is cast and if there are 50 sail, I will go through them". [35] The Spanish were caught by surprise, sailing in two divisions with a gap that Jervis aimed to exploit. [28] The ship's log records how Victory halted the Spanish division, raking ships both ahead and astern, while Jervis' private memoirs recall how Victory ' s broadside so terrified Principe de Asturias that she "squared her yards, ran clear out of the battle and did not return". [36] Jervis, realising that the main bulk of the enemy fleet could now cross astern and reunite, ordered his ships to change course, but Sir Charles Thompson, leading the rear division, failed to comply. The following ships were now in a quandary over whether to obey the Admiral's signal or follow their divisional commander. Nelson, who had transferred to HMS Captain, was the first to break off and attack the main fleet as Jervis had wanted and other ships soon followed his example. [37] [38] The British fleet not only achieved its main objective, that of preventing the Spanish from joining their French and Dutch allies in the channel, but also captured four ships. [38] The dead and wounded from these four ships alone amounted to 261 and 342, respectively more than the total number of British casualties of 73 dead and 327 wounded. [39] There was one fatality aboard Victory a cannonball narrowly missed Jervis and decapitated a nearby sailor. [38]

— Naval architect Sir Robert Seppings, describing defects aboard Victory, September 1796 [40]

On her return to England, Victory was examined for seaworthiness and found to have significant weaknesses in her stern timbers. She was declared unfit for active service and left anchored off Chatham Dockyard. In December 1796 she was ordered to be converted to a hospital ship to hold wounded French and Spanish prisoners of war. [16] [41]

However, on 8 October 1799, HMS Impregnable was lost off Chichester, having run aground on her way back to Portsmouth after escorting a convoy to Lisbon. [41] She could not be refloated and so was stripped and dismantled. Now short of a three-decked ship of the line, the Admiralty decided to recondition Victory. Work started in 1800, but as it proceeded, an increasing number of defects were found and the repairs developed into a very extensive reconstruction. [41] The original estimate was £23,500, but the final cost was £70,933. [9] Extra gun ports were added, taking her from 100 guns to 104, and her magazine lined with copper. The open galleries along her stern were removed [40] her figurehead was replaced along with her masts and the paint scheme changed from red to the black and yellow seen today. Her gun ports were originally yellow to match the hull, but later repainted black, giving a pattern later called the "Nelson chequer", which was adopted by most Royal Navy ships in the decade following the Battle of Trafalgar. [42] [43] The work was completed in April 1803, and the ship left for Portsmouth the following month under her new captain, Samuel Sutton. [16] [44]

Vice-Admiral Nelson hoisted his flag in Victory on 18 May 1803, with Samuel Sutton as his flag captain. [16] The Dispatches and Letters of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson (Volume 5, page 68) record that "Friday 20 May a.m. . Nelson . came on board. Saturday 21st (i.e.the afternoon of the 20th) Unmoored ship and weighed. Made sail out of Spithead . when H.M.Ship Amphion joined, and proceeded to sea in company with us" – Victory's Log. Victory was under orders to meet up with Cornwallis off Brest, but after 24 hours of searching failed to find him. Nelson, anxious to reach the Mediterranean without delay, decided to transfer to Amphion off Ushant. The Dispatches and Letters (see above) record on page 71 "Tuesday 24 May (i.e. 23 May p.m.) Hove to at 7.40, Out Boats. The Admiral shifted his flag to the Amphion. At 7.50 Lord Nelson came on board the Amphion and hoisted his flag and made sail – Log."

On 28 May, Captain Sutton captured the French Ambuscade of 32 guns, bound for Rochefort. [45] Victory rejoined Lord Nelson off Toulon, where on 31 July, Captain Sutton exchanged commands with the captain of Amphion, Thomas Masterman Hardy and Nelson raised his flag in Victory once more. [46]

Victory was passing the island of Toro, near Majorca, on 4 April 1805, when HMS Phoebe brought the news that the French fleet under Pierre-Charles Villeneuve had escaped from Toulon. While Nelson made for Sicily to see if the French were heading for Egypt, Villeneuve was entering Cádiz to link up with the Spanish fleet. [47] On 9 May, Nelson received news from HMS Orpheus that Villeneuve had left Cadiz a month earlier. The British fleet completed their stores in Lagos Bay, Portugal and, on 11 May, sailed westward with ten ships and three frigates in pursuit of the combined Franco-Spanish fleet of 17 ships. [48] They arrived in the West Indies to find that the enemy was sailing back to Europe, where Napoleon Bonaparte was waiting for them with his invasion forces at Boulogne. [49]

The Franco-Spanish fleet was involved in the indecisive Battle of Cape Finisterre in fog off Ferrol with Admiral Sir Robert Calder's squadron on 22 July, before taking refuge in Vigo and Ferrol. [50] Calder on 14 August and Nelson on 15 August joined Admiral Cornwallis's Channel Fleet off Ushant. [51] Nelson continued on to England in Victory, leaving his Mediterranean fleet with Cornwallis [52] who detached twenty of his thirty-three ships of the line and sent them under Calder to find the combined fleet at Ferrol. On 19 August came the worrying news that the enemy had sailed from there, followed by relief when they arrived in Cádiz two days later. On the evening of Saturday, 28 September, Lord Nelson joined Lord Collingwood's fleet off Cádiz, quietly, so that his presence would not be known. [53]

Battle of Trafalgar Edit

After learning he was to be removed from command, Villeneuve put to sea on the morning of 19 October and when the last ship had left port, around noon the following day, he set sail for the Mediterranean. [54] The British frigates, which had been sent to keep track of the enemy fleet throughout the night, were spotted at around 1900 hours and the order was given to form line of battle. [55] On the morning of 21 October, the main British fleet, which was out of sight and sailing parallel some 10 miles away, turned to intercept. [56] Nelson had already made his plans: to break the enemy line some two or three ships ahead of their commander-in-chief in the centre and achieve victory before the van could come to their aid. [57] At 0600 hours, Nelson ordered his fleet into two columns. Fitful winds made it a slow business, and for more than six hours, the two columns of British ships slowly approached the French line before Royal Sovereign, leading the lee column, was able to open fire on Fougueux. Around 30 minutes later, Victory broke the line between Bucentaure and Redoutable firing a treble shotted broadside into the stern of the former from a range of a few yards. [58] At a quarter past one, Nelson was shot, the fatal musket ball entering his left shoulder and lodging in his spine. [59] He died at half past four. [60] Such killing had taken place on Victory ' s quarter deck that Redoutable attempted to board her, but they were thwarted by the arrival of Eliab Harvey in the 98-gun HMS Temeraire, whose broadside devastated the French ship. [61] Nelson's last order was for the fleet to anchor, but this was countermanded by Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood. [62] Victory suffered 57 killed and 102 wounded. [63]

Victory had been badly damaged in the battle and was not able to move under her own sail. HMS Neptune therefore towed her to Gibraltar for repairs. [64] Victory then carried Nelson's body to England, where, after lying in state at Greenwich, he was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral on 9 January 1806. [65]

Final years afloat Edit

The Admiralty Board considered Victory too old, and in too great a disrepair, to be restored as a first-rate ship of the line. In November 1807 she was relegated to second-rate, with the removal of two 32-pounder cannon and replacement of her middle deck 24-pounders with 18-pounders obtained from other laid-up ships. She was recommissioned as a troopship between December 1810 and April 1811. [66] In 1812 she was relocated to the mouth of Portsmouth Harbour off Gosport, for service as a floating depot and, from 1813 to 1817, as a prison ship. [67] [66]

Major repairs were undertaken in 1814, including the fitting of 3 ft 10 in (1.2 m) metal braces along the inside of her hull, to strengthen the timbers. This was the first use of iron in the vessel structure, other than small bolts and nails. [68] Active service was resumed from February 1817 when she was relisted as a first-rate carrying 104 guns. However, her condition remained poor, and in January 1822 she was towed into dry dock at Portsmouth for repairs to her hull. Refloated in January 1824, she was designated as the Port admiral's flagship for Portsmouth Harbour, remaining in this role until April 1830. [66]

Victorian era Edit

In 1831 the Admiralty issued orders for Victory to be broken up and her timbers reused in other vessels. [66] A public outcry against the destruction of so famous a ship led to the order being held in abeyance and Victory was left, largely forgotten, at a Portsmouth mooring. [66] The Admiralty officially designated the ageing vessel as a tender for the port admiral ' s flagship HMS Wellington, and permitted civilian visitors to come aboard for tours. [69] The ship briefly returned to the public gaze on 18 July 1833 when the queen in waiting, Princess Victoria, and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, made a visit to her quarterdeck to meet with veterans of the Trafalgar campaign. [67] This generated a surge of interest in the vessel, and an increase in civilian visitor numbers to between 10,000 and 12,000 a year. Victoria returned for a second visit on 21 October 1844, creating a further burst of interest that lifted annual visitors to more than 22,000. [69] In late April 1854, Victory sprang a leak and sank. All on board were rescued [70] and the boat was subsequently raised. [71] In 1887 she sprang a catastrophic leak and it was only with some difficulty that she was prevented from sinking at her mooring. [69] The Admiralty thereafter provided a small annual subsidy for maintenance, and in 1889 Victory became the home of a signal school in addition to being a tender.

The impact of so much human traffic also left her increasingly decrepit, particularly in the absence of Admiralty funding for repairs. Sir Edward Seymour visited the vessel in 1886 as Flag Captain to the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth and recalled in 1911 "a more rotten ship than she had become probably never flew the pennant. I could literally run my walking stick through her sides in many places." [72]

The school remained on Victory until 1904, when training was transferred temporarily to HMS Hercules. [73]

Despite her reuse as a school, Victory continued to deteriorate at her mooring. In 1903 she was accidentally rammed by HMS Neptune, a successor to the vessel that had towed her to Gibraltar. Emergency repairs prevented her from sinking, but Admiralty again proposed that she be scrapped and it was only the personal intervention of Edward VII that prevented this from occurring. [74] Interest in the ship revived in 1905 when, as part of the centenary celebrations of the Battle of Trafalgar, she was decorated with electric lights powered by a submarine moored alongside. [74] In 1910, the Society for Nautical Research was created to try to preserve her for future generations, but Admiralty was unable to help, having become embroiled in an escalating arms race thus by the time Frank H. Mason published The Book of British Ships in 1911, Victory ' s condition was described as "..nothing short of an insult". [75] [76] A few glimpses of the ship in 1918 are to be seen towards the end of Maurice Elvey's biopic of Nelson created in that year. [77]

In dry dock Edit

By 1921 the ship was in a very poor state, and a public Save the Victory campaign was started, with shipping magnate Sir James Caird as a major contributor. [78] On 12 January 1922, her condition was so poor that she would no longer stay afloat, and had to be moved into No. 2 dock at Portsmouth, the oldest dry dock in the world still in use. [79] [78] A naval survey revealed that between a third and a half of her internal fittings required replacement. Her steering equipment had also been removed or destroyed, along with most of her furnishings. [69]

The relocation to No. 2 dock sparked public discussion about Victory ' s future location. Suggestions in contemporary newspapers included the creation of a floating plinth atop which she could be preserved as a monument, either in Portsmouth or adjacent to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. Others proposed a berth beside Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames, or as land-based structure in Trafalgar Square. Despite popular support, these options were not seriously entertained by Admiralty. The naval architects who had surveyed the ship reported that she was too damaged to be moved Admiralty formally adopted their advice and No. 2 dock thereafter became Victory ' s permanent home. [69]

During the initial restoration period from 1922 to 1929, a considerable amount of structural repair work was carried out above the waterline and mainly above the middle deck. On 8 April 1925, Victory was temporarily refloated within Portsmouth's No.2 dock, to adjust the supporting cradle and so that Victory's waterline would be at the a same level with the top of the dry dock. [80] This last refloating of HMS Victory was recorded by Pathé news cameras. [81] [82] In 1928, King George V was able to unveil a tablet celebrating the completion of the work, although restoration and maintenance still continued under the supervision of the Society for Nautical Research. [78] Restoration was suspended during the Second World War, and in 1941, Victory sustained further damage when a 500 lb. bomb [83] dropped by the Luftwaffe broke her keel, as can be seen in Plate 1 in The Anatomy of Nelsons Ships by C Nepean Longridge (1955), destroyed one of the steel cradles and part of the foremast. On one occasion, German radio propaganda claimed that the ship had been destroyed by a bomb, and the Admiralty had to issue a denial. [84]

In the 1950s, a number of preventive measures were instigated, including the removal of bulkheads to increase airflow and the fumigating of the ship against the deathwatch beetle. The following decade saw the replacement of much of the decayed oak with oily hardwoods such as teak and Iroko, which were believed to be more resistant to fungus and pests. [85] The decision to restore Victory to her Battle of Trafalgar configuration was taken in 1920, but the need to undertake these important repairs meant this was not achieved until 2005, in time for the Trafalgar 200 celebrations. [86] Victory ' s fore topsail was severely damaged during the Battle of Trafalgar, perforated by upwards of 90 cannonballs and other projectiles. It was replaced after the battle, but was preserved and eventually displayed in the Royal Naval Museum. [87]

21st century Edit

In November 2007, Victory ' s then commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander John Scivier, paid a visit to USS Constitution of the US Navy, which is the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. He met Constitution ' s commanding officer, Commander William A. Bullard III, and discussed the possibility of arranging an exchange programme between the two ships. [88]

Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Victory has been the flagship of the First Sea Lord since October 2012. Prior to this, she was the flagship of the Second Sea Lord. [89] [90] She is the oldest commissioned warship in the world and attracts around 350,000 visitors per year in her role as a museum ship. [91] The current and 101st commanding officer is Lieutenant Commander Brian Smith, who assumed command in May 2015. [92]

In December 2011, Defence Equipment and Support awarded an initial five-year project management contract to BAE Systems, with an option to extend to ten years. The restoration is worth £16 million over the life of the contract and will include work to the masts and rigging, replacement side planking, and the addition of fire control measures. It is expected to be the most extensive refit since the ship returned from Trafalgar. In her current state she has no upper masts and minimum rigging. It is expected that it will be over 12 years before these are replaced. [93] [94]

Since this contract was placed, the most significant change has been on 5 March 2012, when ownership of the ship was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to a dedicated HMS Victory Preservation Trust, established as part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy. [95] According to the Royal Navy website, the move was "heralded by the announcement of a £25 million capital grant to support the new Trust by the Gosling Foundation—a donation which has been matched by a further £25 million from the MOD". [96]

Victory has also undergone emergency repair works to prevent the hull decaying and sagging. The hull is moving at a rate of half a centimetre each year, about 20 cm over the last 40 years although there are plans to create new hydraulic supports that will better fit the ship. [97] The ship will benefit from a £35 million restoration project, utilising Scottish elm and oak trees as wood for the restoration project. [98] [99]

Over the two centuries since Victory ' s launch, numerous admirals have hoisted their flag in her:

Archimedes’ legacy: inventions and discoveries

Archimedes is the perfect embodiment of a man ahead of his time. Even amon gst p eers that practice d p hilosophy and the arts as well as established democrac y, Archimedes of Syracuse outshined them all. A true polymath, Archimedes was active in the fields of astronomy, geometry, logic, physics, and mathematics , and was recognized as the best engineer and inventor of his time. As a part of his grand legacy, many of his inventions and discoveries from over 2,000 years ago are still in use toda y.

Archimedes’ screw

This ingeniously contrived device was invented by Archimedes to help poor farmers irrigate their crops. The device consists of a screw mechanism inside a hollow casing. When the screw is rotated, either by windmill or manual labour, the bottom end of the screw scoop s water, then move s it through the casing against gravity until it escape s through the last thread to reach irrigation canals.

A model of Archimedes’ screw, probably of the late Ptolemaic period, has been found in Lower Egypt.Credit: The New York Times, June 18, 1898

To day, the same principle is used in modern machinery for drainage and irrigation, and also in some types of high-speed tools. It can also be applied for handling light, loose materials such as grain, sand, and ashes. Of course, these look more impressive. Since 1980, Texas City, TX, USA uses eight 12-ft.-diameter Archimedes screws to manage rainstorm runoff. Each screw is powered by a 750-hp diesel engine and can pump up to 125,000 gallons per minute. The SS Archimedes was a ship named after the great inventor, which was the first steamship to come with a screw propelle r.

One of eight 12-ft.-diameter Archimedes screws in Texas CIty, Texas, USA. Credit: Popular Mechanics (April 1980, page 62).

Burning mirrors

Wall painting from the Stanzino delle Matematiche in the Galleria degli Uffizi (Florence, Italy). Painted by Giulio Parigi (1571-1635) in the years 1599-1600.

Th roughout his career as an inventor, Archimedes would frequently be commissioned by the rulers of Syracuse to invent war machines to protect their fair city. Such is the case with his “burning mirrors” – a system of large mirrors placed on the walls of the city that concentrate d s olar power in order to burn any ships foolish enough to sail against Syracuse. The story is extremely controversial, and even to this day historians and engineers alike debate whether this is a fact or myth.

The earliest account of Archimedes’ ancient death ray was written in the 12th century by Zonares and Tzetzes who were quoting an earlier, but now lost work called The Siege of Syracuse.

When Marcellus [The Roman General] had placed the ships a bow shot off, the old man [Archimedes] constructed a sort of hexagonal mirror. He placed at proper distances from the mirror other smaller mirrors of the same kind, which were moved by means of their hinges and certain plates of metal. He placed it amid the rays of the sun at noon, both in summer and winter. The rays being reflected by this, a frightful fiery kindling was excited on the ships, and it reduced them to ashes, from the distance of a bow shot. Thus the old man baffled Marcellus, by means of his inventions.

Crafty old man, indeed, but did it really happen? The ability of mirrors to concentrate the sun and obtain high temperatures is no myth, as any kid who used a magnifying glass to burn scraps can attest. This year, Morocco opened the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the world which will generate enough electricity to power the homes of one million people. CSP plants typically use 12m high parabolic mirrors that reflect sunlight onto pipework that contains a heat transfer fluid (HTF), typically thermal oil. This increases the temperature of the fluid to almost 400°C. The HTF is then used to heat steam in a standard turbine generator. Some CSPs heat the target tower to temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (537 degrees Celsius), so it’s easy to imagine how Archimedes might have pulled something similar to burn enemy ships.

The real question isn’t whether it’s possible per se, but whether Archimedes actually made a burning mirror system using the tools and resources at his disposal two thousand years ago.

Apparently , in 1973 a Greek scientist, Dr. Ioannis Sakkas, became curious about whether Archimedes could really have used a “burning glass” to destroy the Roman fleet , so he set up an experiment involving 60 Greek sailors each using an oblong 3′ by 5′ flat mirror to focus light on a wooden rowboat 160 feet awa y. Th e boat was set on fire fairly quickly, though it’s worth mentioning the boat was coated in tar paint , which is highly flammable. Tar paint was used frequently to coat ships back in Archimedes’ time . However, more recently, when the Mythbusters made their own reenactment, things didn’t go quite as smoothly. In 2010, 500 flat mirrors controlled by 500 volunteer middle and high school students were focused on the sail of a ship, which should have combusted at 500 °F . After an hour, no more than 230 °F could be reached, so the team classified this as ‘inconclusive’. Jamie Hyneman, who was stationed on the moc k b oat for the duration of the experiment, did say that he could barely see, however . He suggests that Archimedes’ burning mirrors might have been real, but perhaps was used more for dazzling enemies than burning boats.

The gold crown and “Eureka!”

According to the Roman architect Vitruvius, the Syracusan king Hiero II commissioned a gold crown shaped like a laurel wreath to be placed in a temple. The king himself weighed the gold and gave the goldsmith the material to turn it into a piece of art. At the appointed day, the goldsmith presented his masterpiece — a gold crown shaped like a laurel wreath, exactly as the king ordered. When it was weighed, it had exactly the same mass as measured earlier. The king was pleased, but only days before the temple ceremony, he heard rumors that the goldsmith had cheated him and given him a crown not of pure gold, but of gold that had silver mixed with it.

Hiero believed there was only one man in Syracuse capable of discovering the truth and solving his problem — his cousin, Archimedes, a young man of 22 who already distinguished himself in the fair city for his work in mathematics, physics and engineering.

When faced with the challenge, Archimedes devised a clever science experiment to get to the bottom of things, but not until after thoroughly pondering the situation.
Legend has it that Archimedes was thinking about the golden crown while bathing in the public baths one day. As he began to enter a cold bathtub for his final dip, he noticed water started dripping on the sides. As he continued to lower his body into the bath, even more water ran out over the sides of the tub. In this instant, he recognized the solution to Hiero’s problem, jumped out of the tub at once, and ran all the way home without remembering to put his clothes on, all the while shouting, ‘Eureka, Eureka!’ – which in Greek means, ‘I have found it! I have found it!’

Alas, the “Eureka!” story itself is likely a fabrication, but Archimedes is genuinely credited as the first to state the laws of buoyancy.

Archimedes' Principle

He knew that if the crown was pure gold, its volume would be the same as that of the lump of gold (which he had made sure weighed the same as the crown), regardless of shape , an d i t would displace the same amount of water as the gold. If the goldsmith had indeed cheated and replaced some of the gold with silver, then the volume of gold and silver would be greater, and thus the crown would displace more water. According to Vitruvius, Archimedes used this method and found the goldsmith had indeed cheated.

Skeptics weren’t convinced, however . As far back as 1586, Galileo wrote a short treatise called La Bilancetta, or The Little Balance, in which he argued this method could not be work because the differences in gold and silver volumes are too small. Instead, he suggest ed Archimedes used a similar, but more crafty technique. In short, Archimedes probably suspended the gold crown on one end of a scale, and a lump of gold of equal mass on the other end.

The scale would have been then submerged in water, with both contents still on the ends of the scale. Since a body immersed in water is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the water displaced by the body, the denser body, which has a smaller volume for the same weight, would sink lower in the water than the less dense one. If the crown was pure gold, the scales would continue to balance even under water.

The Iron Claw

We continue with yet another war machine designed by Archimedes: the so-called Iron Claw. True to its name, this mechanical device was installed on the walls of the old city of Syracuse. The exact design has been lost in time, but we know its purpose was to topple eager Roman ships. Once the claw fastened itself to a ship’s underbelly, it would be tugged in an upward fashion and then released from a distance. In 2005, the producers of Discovery Channel’s Superweapons of the Ancient World challenged engineers to replicate this arcane device on the condition they’d use only techniques and materials known to be available in the 3rd century BC. Within seven days , they were able to test their creation, and they did succeed in tipping over a model of a Roman ship to make it sink.

The Odometer

The same Vitruvius who accounted Archimedes’ “Eureka!” moment also reported Archimedes to have “mounted a large wheel of known circumference in a small frame, in much the same fashion as the wheel is mounted on a wheelbarrow when it was pushed along the ground by hand it automatically dropped a pebble into a container at each revolution, giving a measure of the distance traveled. It was, in effect, the first odometer,” according to Encyclopedia Britannia. This mechanism is said to have been invented by Archimedes during the First Punic War. It seems to have been used until the time of Emperor Commodus (192A.D.) and then was lost in Europe until the middle of the fifteenth century.

The block and tackle pulley system

“Give me a place to stand on, and I can move the earth,” Archimedes once said speaking of the power of the lever. While he did not invent the lever, he gave an explanation of the principle involved in his work On the Equilibrium of Planes.

Archimedes' law of the lever

Equal weights at equal distances are in equilibrium, and equal weights at unequal distances are not in equilibrium but incline towards the weight which is at the greater distance.

If, when weights at certain distances are in equilibrium, something is added to one of the weights, they are not in equilibrium but incline towards that weight to which the addition was made.

Similarly, if anything is taken away from one of the weights, they are not in equilibrium but incline towards the weight from which nothing was taken.
When equal and similar plane figures coincide if applied to one another, their centers of gravity similarly coincide.

The familiar king Hieron was very impressed by this statement and asked Archimedes to prove it. The occasion seemed very fitting because Syracuse at the time was biting off more than it could chew. The city built a magnificent 55-meter-long ship called the Syracusia packed with a sumptuous decor of exotic woods and marble along with towers, statues, a gymnasium, a library, and even a temple. Oh, and the ship was designed by Archimedes. According to Plutarch, Archimedes managed to set the Syracuse out of harbor using an intricate system of pulleys, although his account seems a bit too poetic.

“[Archimedes] had stated [in a letter to King Hieron] that given the force, any given weight might be moved, and even boasted, we are told, relying on the strength of demonstration, that if there were another earth, by going into it he could remove this. Hiero being struck with amazement at this, and entreating him to make good this problem by actual experiment, and show some great weight moved by a small engine, he fixed accordingly upon a ship of burden out of the king’s arsenal, which could not be drawn out of the dock without great labour and many men and, loading her with many passengers and a full freight, sitting himself the while far off, with no great endeavour, but only holding the head of the pulley in his hand and drawing the cords by degrees, he drew the ship in a straight line, as smoothly and evenly as if she had been in the sea.”

Artist impression of the Syracusia.

“Archimedes chose for his demonstration a three-masted merchantman of the royal fleet, which had been hauledashore with immense labour by a large gang of men, and he proceeded to have the ship loaded with her usual freight and embarked a large number of passengers. He then seated himself at some distance away and without using any noticeable force, but merely exerting traction with his hand through a complex system of pulleys, he drew the vessel towards him with as smooth and even a motion as if she were gliding through the water.,” Plutarch.

Geometry of spheres and cylinders

According to Plutarch, the famous Greek biographer, Archimedes had a low opinion of the mechanical contraptions he invented and for which he was recognized in the entire ancient world. Instead, he relished in his theoretical explorations of mathematics and physics. Archimedes is credited for nine extant treatises, among which is the two-volume On the Sphere and Cylinder. In this fantastic work, Archimedes determined the surface area of any sphere of radius r is four times that of its greatest circle (in modern notation, S = 4πr 2 ) and that the volume of a sphere is two-thirds that of the cylinder in which it is inscribed ( V = 4 /3 πr 3 ). Archimedes was so proud of this achievement that he left instructions for his tomb to be inscribed with “a sphere inscribed in a cylinder.” Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 bce) found the tomb, overgrown with vegetation, a century and a half after Archimedes’ death.

The measurement of the circle

D etermining the area of a circle was once considered a great mathematical challenge. Archimedes found a way to approximate it with a method called “squaring the circle”. He first created a square inscribed inside of the circle (inscribed means that it exactly fits inside, with its vertices just touching the edge of the circle). Since he kn ew t he area of the square is (the product of two sides), it was clear that the area of the circle is bigger than the area of that inscribed square. He then fitted a polygon with six sides instead of four within the circle and computed its area he gradually worked his way up with more complex polygons to get even closer to the circle’s true area .

Eventually, Archimedes got really good at this and discovered π (pi) — the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. His calculations using an astonishing 96 – sided polyg on to suggest that pi lies “between the limits of 3 and 10/71 and 3 and 1/7”. In other words, he calculated an estimate that was equal to pi to two digits (3.14). Until the advent of calculus and computing infinite series 1,500 years later , no t m any digits were added to the ones found by Archimede s. A major breakthrough was made in 1655 when the English mathematician derived a formula for pi as the product of an infinite series of ratios.

Procrastination Embodied

Today I wrote one hell of a forum post over at the alternative history forums, writing under the psuedonym. The background was that I had just finished reading Lucio Russo’s The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why It Had to Be Reborn, and as it was a timeline about a world without Rome, I listed some things I had learnt from the book to help the thread maker out. I provide what I wrote in this blog post in its entirety, as well as some additional comments I have in mind seperate from the forum post provided after the “footnotes”:
Military technology:

  • Non-gunpowder[1] siege weapons that made the medieval trebuchets pale in comparison[2].
  • There were repeating catapults, and repeating crossbows wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
  • There was, as mentioned the ability to sail the open seas, which was possible because they possessed 1) a coordinate system, ie a scientific theory of cartography 2) reliable and 3) a method to locate the ship with respect to the coordinate system
  • It seems that there was a push towards building larger ships. The descriptions of some of them make me think of Zheng He’s treasure ships.[3]
  • Canal-digging was pretty advanced, as there was a canal linking the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
  • Ships had lead-plating to protect from barnacles, of which none of the British and Dutch ships had as late as the seventeenth century.
  • Very advanced catoptrics, the ability to build lighthouses. Pharos in Alexandria would be the most famous example, but many others had started to built throughout the Mediterranean.

Water engineering (this area should not be underestimated):

  • In aqueducts, pressure pipes (simply called “syphons”) were used, which overcame depressions in the terrain.[4]
  • The Archimedean screw, a tool for lifting water.

Alternative (from muscle power, that is) energy sources[5]:

  • The water mill was known, and used throughout the whole Mediterranean. Horizontal ones to boot, which are more effective than vertical ones.
  • Windmills were in use, and so wide-spread that there were quite a few place-names named after them (anemourion)[6]
  • The possibilites of steam power had started to be explored[7].
  • The Antikythera mechanism was found on a shipwreck outside the islet of Antikythera, between Peloponnesus and Crete. It was a sort of perpetual calendar that allowed the calculation of the phases of the moon, past and future. Two features stand out: 1) It uses at least thirty gears, which makes it almost seem like clockwork. 2) “[…] the presence of a differential turntable, a mechanism that allows the addition or subtraction of angular velocities. The differential was used to compute the synodic lunar cycle (moon phase cycle), by subtracting the effects of the sun’s movement from those of the sidereal lunar movement”.

Medicine, biology, botany, zoology etc:

  • Anatomical knowledge was quite developed[8].
  • Diagnosis, pathology etc. had been developed.
  • There was measurement of the pulse.
  • Mental illnesses had started to become explored.
  • Biological classification was in full swing[9], also fuelled by the conquests of Alexander the Great, who himself ensured that flora and fauna was sent back for study.
  • Fossils were widely studied, and many were identified as being of species no longer extant.
  • There had been developments towards an evolutionary theory[10].
  • The problems with understanding what rate of progress Hellenistic chemistry was at is that it later morphed into alchemy – “a syncretism of Greek natural philosophy, Egyptian magic, allusions to Judaism and Christianity, craftsmen’s recipes and empirical chemistry”.
  • What we can be quite certain of is that the artficial pigment industries, cosmetics and fragrance industries were quite developed.
  • The conception of a molecule had forerunner in the oncos.
  • There is the possibility of primitive motion pictures[11].
  • Figurative art was pretty advanced, with there starting to be more emphasis on painting rather than sculpture. An example of the new figurative art:

  • The novel.[12]
  • The first keyboard instrument: the Ctesibius water organ.
  • More advanced music started to develop.
  • Greater interest in preserving cultural heritage, with traditional Greek songs etc. started to be written down.
  • The birth of Greek grammar.

Some advances in agriculture:

  • Plants from outside Hellenistic kingdoms started to be cultivated, and preexisting plants were improved through seeds imported from different countries.
  • “Animals from elsewhere were acclimated, breeds were improved through crosses, and wild animals such as hares, dormice and boars began being raised, as did fish species”.
  • Egg incubators.[13]
  • There were animal-powdered automatic harvesters with teeth and blades. Very simple, but beyond the ken of medieval and early modern Europe.
  • Egypt’s population around 1 B.C. was eight million, with a half million in Alexandria, and they were major exporters of grain. An estimate of Egypt’s agricultural capacity in 1836 had it that eight million was the maximum population that could be fed if all land capable was cultivated…
  • The production of olive oil throughout North Africa was very advanced, aided by the invention of the screw press.

Some advances regarding metals:

  • There were drainage installations in mines, from Andalusia to Afghanistan.
  • In early Hellenistic times iron came into common use for tools and machinery of every kind.
  • “From the little information we have about metallurgical procedures we can glean certain technological innovations in the area of metal refining. Polybius tells us about a new blacksmith’s bellow, perhaps fed by the Ctesibian pump”.
  • The clearest example of advances in metallurgy would be the Colossus on Rhodes when in the Renaissance they wanted to build a similar structure, they had no idea how to go about it.

Lucio Russo also has written a word of caution, useful to alternate history writers:

I think there can be no doubt about the importance that ancient science and Hellenistic technology could potentially have had for production processes, but in assessing the extent of applications actually deployed in Antiquity we must avoid certain traps that lurk in making comparisons, whether explicit or implicit, with our own age.
In Chaplin’s movie Modern Times, the tokens of modernity are screws, gears, transmission belts, valves, steam engines, automata: a smorgasbord of inventions from ancient Alexandria. How can one say that these innovations were useless back then? Yet, though so much of the technology that made up the movie’s factory goes back to the third century B.C., it is clear that in that century there were no factories like Chaplin’s.
The Western world has experienced since the late seventeenth century a unique phenomenon in human history, characterized by an exponential increase in several technological and economical indicators, and the source of achievements and problems without parallel. (This growth certainly cannot continue for long at the same exponential pace.) The primitivists are right in warning us against the pitfalls of “modernizing” Antiquity by reading into it the accoutrements of modern life. There was certainly no Hellenistic Industrial Revolution, there were no stock brokers in Alexandria and the Mouseion was not the Royal Society. On the other hand, using today’s Western world as a sort of universal standard, lumping all ages other than ours into an undifferentiated “underdeveloped” category, can be highly misleading. If we think that biology has predetermined a unique possible path for the human race, culminating in the “economic rationalism” of today, it may be possible to define other civilizations by how far they are from ours but human history is much more complex than that.
The application of scientific technology to production does not necessarily mark the beginning of the process in which we find ourselves now, where technology itself grows exponentially. Having made this clear, I think it must be agreed that scientific technology did have in Antiquity important applications to production. The Mouseion’s economic role was not comparable to that of the Royal Society, but that does not mean this role was insignificant, nor does it imply a lack of wisdom or foresight on part of the ancient scientists. The process of exponential development starting with what is usually called the Industrial Revolution as triggered by a plethora of economic, social, political, cultural and demographic factors that we have not yet understood in depth. It is more sensible to try to figure out what happened in Europe in the late seventeenth century than to ask why the same thing did not happen two thousand years earlier. Hellenistic scientific development was violently arrested by the Roman conquest. We may wish to speculate on what might have happened had this interruption not taken place. Nothing authorizes us to conclude that things would have gone the way it did in seventeenth century Europe we do know, however, that the recovery of ancient knowledge and technology played a major role in the modern scientific take-off.

[1] “The introduction of firearms in the modern age concerned primarily large-bore guns used against fixed positions as a personal weapon, the arquebus took centuries to supplant the pike. So the role of gunpowder was to replace the catapult, the technology of which had been lost”.
[2] Fortification overall did change as well, because walls started to become “thicker and started being surrounded by moats, but were complemented by towers capable of hosting catapults”. The advances in siege outpaced advances in defense, though, as shown by a rapidly increasing amount of victorious sieges.
[3] “Merchantmen also got bigger. Hiero II of Syracuse had a cargo ship built, the Syracusia […] Thus we know that the ship, whose construction had required as much wood as sixty quadriremes, had on board, among other things, a gymnasium, a library, hanging gardens and twenty horse-stalls.”
[4] “The most remarkable syphon was at Pergamum it pushed water uphill to a height of perhaps 190 meters from the deepest point, and the pressure at the bottom must have been almost 20 atmospheres.”
[5] Whoever holds Iberia is in a good position, as both wind and water energy is plentiful there, and there’s even coal in the north.
[6] “Many scholars have felt that the Heronian passage can be disregarded because it is not confirmed by other writings. Heron presumably meant anemourion in a moment of distraction, forgetting that it had not been invented yet. We know that he was given to such lapses.”
[7] “The first steam engine actually built in modern times seems to have been the one described in 1615 by Salomon de Caus it operated an ornamental fountain intermittently. Thus the inheritance from Heron was so complete that it even concerned the end to which the machine was put. Heronian technology hung on for another century in various hands, until it became convenient to start building steam engines – which is to say, when the rapidly growing energy needs of nascent industrialization no longer could be met by watermills alone.”
[8] There’s even evidence of there being dissections of “condemned men” while they were still alive!
[9] It would not be seen again until Carl von Linné (Carolus Linnaeus).
[10] “We have seen, then, that the bases of modern evolutionism, namely the notions of mutation and natural selection, were both present in Hellenistic thought.”
[11] “This is consistent with Heron’s remark that an early automatic playlet merely showed, by way of motion, a face with blinking eyes – something that is of course easy to accomplish with an alternation of just two images. Heron also says that with still automata one can either show a character in motion, or a character appearing or disappearing.”
[12] “The Hellenistic origin of the novel has long been obscured. It was thought that Greek-language novels first appeared in the late imperial age this changed in 1945 when a papyrus was found in Oxyrynchus that dates from the first century B.C. and contains fragments of the Novel of Nivus. Now many scholars think that the novel originated in the second century B.C.”
[13] “In the early sixteenth century Thomas More wrote admiringly that in Utopia “vast numbers of eggs are laid in a gentle and equal heat, in order to be hatched”, but incubators would remain a mere literary memory still long after that.”

History, both in the past and into the future is not deterministic, there is nothing inevitable about our situation. At the same time, it is not completely random, either. The term convergence can be of help, with some forms of possibilities being more probable than others. The similarities between the feudalism of Europe and Japan is striking. Yet, there is much variation, too, in this convergence, especially in how different civilizations interact, mix, with each other.

The Greek city-states had throughout the centuries developed science, and democracy. Macedonia then united all of Greece, and set out to conquer vast swaths of the world under Alexander the Great. Of course, war is never a pleasant matter, and many of the Greek cities’ democracies had been halted in the process. But the mixing between ancient civilizations and Greek culture, becoming known as Hellenistic civilization, is still incredible. The Greeks were technologically inferior to the civilizations they became rulers of, but the scientific culture they carried with them had very impressive results. The future looked bright, indeed.

Unfortunately, the mixing of different cultures can go both ways. The Roman conquest of Mediterranean can very well be considered the most somber event in history. A pre-scientific, militaristic culture, the Romans could not understand anything of the scientific methodology the Greeks used, and were not interested in preserving it. These were not the Romans of Virgil indeed, any cultivation they had was through what they adopted from the Greeks. By the time anyone in the Roman empire actually cared about Hellenistic civilizations again, they simply could not comprehend these writings. The decline after that unstoppable. After that the Roman empire slowly collapsed, and in its place came the dark ages, and it got even worse, somehow. It was only through the Renaissance and the (very partial) recovery of Hellenistic knowledge that Europe started to wake up from her horrible nightmare.

I’ll end with a quote from Peter Englund’s essay On a Stroll in the Hilbert Room:

And we are lonely, lonelier than any generation have been on this side of Nicolaus Copernicus, when he twisted around the whole solar system with help of a goose quill pen and threw us all out into an infinite universe. Lonelier, but paradoxically also stronger, because now there are no excuses anymore, no musts, no historical metaphysics to cling onto or blame. We ourselves form our destiny. What happens in the future is thus driven by ourselves. […] What is needed is merely a reason large enough to not be tempted by repressions, and as critical that it doubts everything, even itself. History is made by humans.


The Swedish East India Company was established on 14 June 1731, to trade in East Asia. The company followed the Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, French and English East India Companies. Situated in Gothenburg, the company secured a 15-year monopoly on far eastern trade, exchanging Swedish timber, tar, iron and copper for tea, porcelain and silk. [10]

The company existed for 82 years and its vessels made 131 voyages using 37 different ships. [11] Even though the company in the end went bankrupt, it made enormous profits during most of its years in operation and influenced the history of Sweden in several ways. [12] [13]

Götheborg was built at the Terra Nova shipyard [sv] in Stockholm and launched in 1738. According to writer Björn Ahlander, it only took about one and a half years to build a ship of this size in the 1700s. It was built in the Swedish capital and named Götheborg because the Swedish East India Company resided in Gothenburg, and all expeditions began and ended at this port. The ship had a tonnage equivalent to about 830 t (1,830,000 lb). On its maiden voyage in 1739, the ship carried 30 cannons and an initial crew of 144. [14]

The ship made three journeys to China and in 1745, it sank on its way into Gothenburg harbor. After 30 months at sea, and with only 900 m (3,000 ft) to go before the vessel reached its berth, it crashed into the Knipla Börö, a well known rock. Although it remains a mystery how this could happen theories abound. The ship remained stranded on the rock while much of the cargo, consisting of tea, porcelain, spices and silk was salvaged. The ship was clearly visible above the surface of the water for many years, but in time the remains sank to the bottom. [14] [6]

Sinking Edit

It is still unclear what caused the ship to run aground due to the scarcity of contemporary written sources. The Götheborg had a very experienced pilot on board, Caspar Matthisson (1712–1783) from Brännö, who had been a pilot for seven and a half years at the time of the accident. Even so, the ship suddenly ran aground, or crashed into, the underwater rock the Hunnebådan—in the 18th century known as the Knipla Börö and later the Götheborgs-grundet ("the Götheborg's rock") or the Ostindiebådarna ("the East India shallow"). [15]

Excerpt from a contemporary transcript of Captain Eric Moréen's ship's protest, 19 September 1745:

. the impact was so hard that the front of the ship, which had struck the rock, was lifted 4.5 ft (1.4 m) out of the water, and as the side had been holed, the ship soon began to take in a lot of water it could be seen from the pump's water-level gauge that the water was 20, 30 and within a few minutes 60 in (1.5 m) deep inside the ship. The danger was announced with cannon shots and normal signals. [16]

The joint statement by captain Eric Moréen and the crew to the Göteborgs Rådhusrätt ("the Municipal Court of Gothenburg") on the 19 September 1745 states that the weather on 12 September was fair and clear, the wind amenable and blowing from south-west or west-southwest. These were ideal conditions since the wind would be coming almost straight from aft. Crossing the Rivöfjorden the ship met with the current from the northern part of Göta älv, Nordre älv. Navigation and sailing seems to have been correct up until the time of the accident. Sailing at a speed of 3 kn (3.5 mph) the ship suddenly veered to starboard and hit the rock. The cause may have been a now almost forgotten hydrographic phenomenon called dead water. [17]

Hydrographic conditions at the mouth of the Göta älv in September 1745, are well known. The discharge of the Göta älv was unusually large due to heavy snowfall during the winter of 1744–45. The water level of Lake Vänern was also extremely high in 1745. These factors combined into an increase in the volume of fresh water flowing into the Älvsborgsfjorden, affecting the layers of fresh and salt water, making the conditions for dead water very favorable on 12 September 1745. [18] It may be that the Götheborg was suddenly trapped by dead water when making its final change of course, causing the ship to lose rudder function, go off course and run aground. [17]

Excavation Edit

In 9 December 1984, five members from the Marinarkeologiska Sällskapet, Göteborgskretsen (MASG) ("the Marine Archeological Society of Gothenburg") dove at the Hunnebådan, the site of the shipwreck. One of the participants, Anders Wästfelt chairman of the MASG, wrote in his report: "Fair weather, sun, 7 °C (45 °F) in the air. Northwesterly wind 5–6 m/s (11–13 mph). Water temperature 6 °C (43 °F). Weak currents. Visibility in the water: Depth 0–2 m (0.0–6.6 ft), visibility 0.5 m (1.6 ft). Depth 4 m (13 ft), visibility about 3 m (9.8 ft). Depth 10 m (33 ft), visibility about 5 m (16 ft). Dives made between 12:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. … We picked up 38 pieces of porcelain. Three of these were almost undamaged. These were found on the softer sediments of the bottom. All the finds were on the bottom. No digging or use of a water eductor was done. The finds have been submitted to the Gothenburg Maritime museum." [19]

Many porcelain shards were found strewn over the sea floor. In 1986, research in archives and examination of the wreck site had confirmed the find as the ship Götheborg from 1738, and the Gothenburg Maritime museum was given permission from the Swedish National Heritage Board to excavate the site. At the same time the East Indiaman Götheborg Foundation (the first foundation) was established, marking the beginning of one of Sweden's most comprehensive marine archeological surveys at the time. The purpose of the excavation was, among others, to use the wreck of the Götheborg as base for spreading knowledge about the history of Gothenburg and the significance of the Swedish East India Company during the 1700s. [20]

The excavations were carried out during the summers 1986–1992. The seabed was first investigated using sub-bottom and side scan sonar. Secondly the divers went over the site with metal detectors and probes. To facilitate the excavations, the search area, measuring 26 by 36 m (85 by 118 ft), was divided into a grid system comprising boxes measuring 2 by 2 m (6 ft 7 in by 6 ft 7 in). The divers also had two giant suction devices, which sucked up sludge and clay into large sieves, where the smallest finds could be sorted. The remains of the cargo and the ship had settled during the years, together with fine clay, into a 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 in) thick carpet, hard to penetrate. A total of 5,750 finds were registered during the excavation. Most of it was porcelain, blue and white, blue and white with brown glaze, and multicolored made to order. In addition to this the finds also consisted of tea, mother-of-pearl shells, galangal, pepper, silk fabric, ingots of "tutanego" (these contained 99% zinc, 0,5% iron) not to be confused with paktong, cannonballs, lead shots, rapier handles, sword hilts, rigging material and objects belonging to the officers and crew. When compared to the Company's cargo list, which had been preserved, the finds from the excavation made up almost 10 per cent of the original cargo. [21]

During the excavations the thought of building a replica of the Götheborg started to form among the divers who had found the ship. The decision to excavate and rebuild the ship has generated large interest over the years from researchers, volunteers, professionals, sponsors and the public. Knowledge about 18th century history, trade with China and the Swedish East India Company has thereby increased substantially. [14]

When the wreckage of the vessel Götheborg was found in 1984, the idea to make a replica of the vessel emerged. The keel for the replica was laid on 11 June 1995. This was done at the disused Eriksbergs wharf by the Göta älv in Gothenburg. Led by Master of Ceremonies Anders Wästfeldt, two silver coins, one from 1745, and one from 1995, were placed in the halved joints of the 33 m (108 ft) long keel. About 3,000 people attended the laying of the keel, including Sören Gyll, director of Volvo and professor Jorgen Weibull. The project was blessed by the vicar Alf Österholm. [22]

The construction and historical design of the ship was made by Joakim Severinsson. The blueprints for the ship was approved by international classification society Det Norske Veritas in November 1995. [23] All that was left of the Eriksbergs wharf were two-thirds of building berth number six, the large gantry crane and the dry dock. Around this, a new shipyard for building the Götheborg began to grow. A new ship's hall was built over the building berth, a timber workshop, a forge, a rigging workshop with a sail loft and some modern facilities such as a restaurant, offices and conference rooms were also added to the site. Since the wharf was built on reclaimed land, it seemed very apt to call it Terra Nova ("new land" in Latin) just like the wharf where the original vessel had been built. [14] [1]

The vessel was built using old, traditional techniques, and it was made as close to the original as possible. [24] One small change was that the headroom of the deck was increased by 10 cm, since today's seamen are taller than their ancestors. [25]

While the exterior remains true to the original, the interior is highly modern. The ship has an electrical system and propellers powered by diesel engines. The engines were only intended for port navigation and emergency situations, but they have been used during unfavourable wind in order to keep the timetable for the journey to China. Other enhancements include satellite navigation, communications equipment, modern facilities for the crew (kitchen, lavatories, washing machines, desalination equipment, ventilation, refrigerators), watertight bulkheads and fire protection (fire sprinkler systems, fire hydrants etc.). Most of this new technology was necessary to pass national and international safety regulations. [26]

The vessel was launched on 6 June 2003, with great festivities and in the presence of representatives from the Swedish Royal Family. [2]

Ten tons of hemp ropes were used for rigging the vessel, together with some 1,000 blocks and 1,964 m 2 (21,140 sq ft) linen sail. All this was produced using 18th century techniques. The first trial under sail began on 18 April 2005. [27]

Financing Edit

At its completion in 2005, the project had cost about 250 million SEK (almost $40 million), some 40% from public funds and the rest from sponsors. [28]

During the years the ship has been in the care of two foundations. The first foundation consisted of Volvo, SKF, Stena Line and the Port of Gothenburg among others. This foundation financed the ship up until the end of the journey to China and in 2010, its economical commitment ended. The second foundation, a non-profitable foundation, for the ship was created shortly afterwards. The business is operated by The Swedish East India Company Ltd. In January 2011, questions were raised about the future of the ship. The Gothenburg Municipality was willing to pay for the ongoing maintenance of the ship if sponsors made contributions for the expeditions and other activities. An immediate liquidation of the operation and turning the ship into a museum was also suggested. [29] In February 2011, the future plans for the ship were postponed by the Västra Götaland Regional Council. [30]

In August 2019, the Greencarrier Group announced they would be supporting and funding Götheborg's future sailing ventures. [31] There are plans for the ship to sail to several different ports around the world, as well as taking part in different sailing events. There have also been talks of a new expedition to China. [32] [33]

Name Edit

The correct name for the replica of the ship is the Götheborg III. It is a replica of the Götheborg I which sank outside Gothenburg in 1745. A second ship the Götheborg II was built in Gothenburg in 1786. It was the largest [34] of all the SOIC vessels and it made three journeys to Canton: 2 February 1788–13 May 1790, 13 November 1791–12 June 1793, and on 5 December 1795, the ship sailed for Canton but was lost at Cape Town on 8 March 1796, on the way out from Gothenburg. [35]

Crew Edit

When leaving its home port the original ship could have over 130 crew members. This number of hands was necessary since many of the sailors died from diseases or disappeared during storms. Even though it was a high risk job under difficult conditions, the company did not have any problems recruiting sailors for these well paid jobs. Many of the recruits were poor young men, sons of farmers, seeking opportunity to become wealthy. The replica has a crew of 80 sailors. [36]

Flag Edit

The East Indiaman Götheborg is classified as a passenger ship sailing under the ordinary Swedish flag. But when in port, the ship is entitled to fly the old swallowtailed version of the flag, the SOIC flag (Svenska Ostindiska Companiet, "Swedish East India Company"), that the original vessel sailed under. [37]

The flag used on Swedish boats is the ordinary, rectangular flag. Swedish warships, or ships carrying a military commander, fly the Swedish ensign a triple-tailed or swallowtail and tongue version of the rectangular flag. The Swedish East India Company displayed a fork-tailed or swallow-tailed flag on their ships. The intention was that the ship should resemble a warship and thereby not attract pirates. This was against the rules and regulations for flags at that time. The use of the swallowtail was prohibited in a royal decree in 1751, but the SOIC ignored this and ordered their flags in Canton instead. [38] In a memorandum to the Riksdag in 2012, a proposition was made to a grant dispensation from the prohibition. [39] The proposition was declined and the decree is still in effect. [40]

Voyage to Southeast Asia and China 2005–2007 Edit

After various tests and achieving its safety certificates from Det Norske Veritas, the vessel sailed for China in October 2005, as the original vessel did, but it did not follow the same route. The vessel berthed at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, and then left for Hout Bay before continuing on its voyage. The voyage took some 18 months, and the crew of 80 were rotated during harbour stops. The vessel returned to Gothenburg on 9 June 2007, welcomed by the president of China, Hu Jintao, who visited Sweden mainly for this reason, and by the King and Queen of Sweden, Carl Gustaf and Silvia. The ship was also welcomed by thousands of private boats, and a hundred thousand spectators on shore. [41] [42]

Among the harbours visited were Cádiz, Recife, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. The total legs with cities visited and distances are listed below. [43]

  • Leg 1 – Gothenburg via Vigo to Cádiz – 2,400 nautical miles (4,400 km), ca 48 days
  • Leg 2 – Cádiz to Recife – 3,100 nmi (5,700 km), ca 32 days
  • Leg 3 – Recife to Cape Town – 4,200 nmi (7,800 km), ca 41 days
  • Leg 4 – Cape Town via Port Elizabeth – 1,000 nmi (1,900 km), 11 days to Fremantle – 4,800 nmi (8,900 km), 49 days
  • Leg 5 – Fremantle to Jakarta – 1,800 nmi (3,300 km), ca 24 days
  • Leg 6 – Jakarta to Canton – 2,000 nmi (3,700 km), ca 20 days and Shanghai – 900 nmi (1,700 km), ca 12 days
  • Leg 7 – Shanghai to Hong Kong – 900 nmi (1,700 km), ca 10 days and Singapore – 1,450 nmi (2,690 km), ca 21 days
  • Leg 8 – Singapore to Chennai – ? nmi and Djibouti (city) – ? nmi
  • Leg 9 – Djibouti via Suez Canal to Alexandria and Nice – ? nmi
  • Leg 10 – Nice via Gibraltar to London – ? nmi
  • Leg 11 – London to Gothenburg – ? nmi

The route to China approximately followed the original 18th century route (around the south end of Africa), with an added detour to Australia (although in the 18th century, the ships usually avoided ports to avoid pirates). The journey home took a shortcut through the Suez Canal, which did not exist in the time of the original vessel. [43]

Tours 2008–2010 Edit

  • Norrköping (22 May – 25 May)
  • Stockholm (29 May – 6 June)
  • Helsinki (8 June – 16 June)
  • Tallinn (17 June – 22 June)
  • Turku (24 June – 26 June)
  • Nynäshamn (28 June – 1 July)
  • Visby (4 July – 13 July)
  • Norrtälje (15 July – 17 July)
  • Gävle (18 July – 21 July)
  • Sundsvall (23 July – 25 July)
  • Örnsköldsvik (27 July – 29 July)
  • Luleå (31 July – 3 August)
  • Kalmar (15 August – 17 August)
  • Karlskrona (22 August – 24 August)
  • Ystad (29 August – 31 August)
  • Marstrand (13 June – 14 June)
  • Arendal (19 June – 21 June)
  • Frederikshavn (26 June – 28 June)
  • Sandefjord (1 July – 3 July)
  • Stavern (4 July – 5 July)
  • Ålesund (10 July – 12 July)
  • Stavanger (15 July – 17 July)
  • Farsund (19 July – 21 July)
  • Halden (23 July – 25 July)
  • Lysekil (27 July – 1 August)
  • Halmstad (2 August – 3 August)
  • Risør (6 August – 9 August)
  • Gothenburg (11 August – 7 September)
  • Strömstad (9 September)
  • Stockholm (14 June – 20 June)
  • Frederikshavn (26 June – 28 June)
  • Amsterdam (19 August – 23 August)
  • Bremerhaven (25 August – 29 August)

Tours 2012–2014 Edit

  • Gothenburg (30 June)
  • Den Helder (5 July – 7 July)
  • Brest (13 July – 19 July)
  • Bremerhaven (25 July – 29 July)
  • Gothenburg (3 August)
  • Gothenburg (6 May)
  • Tönsberg (8 May – 10 May)
  • Moss (11 May – 13 May)
  • Oslo (14 May – 19 May)
  • Landskrona (24 May – 26 May)
  • Rouen (6 June – 16 June)
  • Den Helder (27 June – 30 June)
  • Kiel (20 June – 23 June)
  • Århus (4 July – 7 July)
  • Helsinki (17 July – 20 July)
  • Riga (25 July – 28 July)
  • Szczecin (3 August – 6 August)
  • Visby (9 August – 11 August)
  • Örnsköldsvik (16 August – 18 August)
  • Luleå (22 August – 25 August)
  • Norrtälje (30 August – 1 September)
  • Gothenburg (7 September)

The Swedish postal service issued four stamps depicting the Götheborg on the 4 October 2003. [48]

The figurehead, a two tailed lion carved by Andy Peters.

The ship's bell, cast to resemble the ship's bell on the East Indiaman "Enigheten".

Sextus Julius Africanus—Why Did The Magi Come ?

There is an interesting, if not phantasmagoric, account of the reason for the coming of the Magi entitled Narrative Of Events Happening In Persia On The Birth Of Christ. It was written in the early 200’s AD by Sextus Julius Africanus, a Libyan(?), who is praised by ancient authors for his erudition and scholarship. Eusebius’ 4th century AD touchstone book Church History is greatly indebted to Africanus’ then extant writings as is Eusebius’ Chronicon.

Church Historian Eusebius, 263-339 AD

Unfortunately, most of Africanus’ legendary works are now lost, but fragments remain. We have Eusebius to thank for all his lengthy quotes from Africanus’ writings. Africanus traveled all over the world seeking first-hand knowledge of places and events relating to the Bible. He visited Mt. Ararat to see the place where Noah’s ark rested and he went to Mesopotamia where he purportedly saw and transcribed from golden plates the events that transpired in the temple of their high goddess, Juno, on the night Jesus was born.

Africanus begins his Narrative:

“Christ first of all became known from Persia. For nothing escapes the learned jurists of that country who investigate all things with the utmost care. The facts therefore which are inscribed upon the golden plates and laid up in their royal temples, I shall record for it is from the temples there, and the priests connected with them, that the name of Christ has been heard of.”

It must be stated that most modern scholars believe this narrative is bogus and that the otherwise highly revered Africanus was either out of his mind or lying when he published this. Because Africanus’ ancient reputation is beyond dispute, many modern scholars attribute this account to someone other than the otherwise respected Africanus.

During the time of Jesus’ birth, the Persian Empire was called Parthia

Africanus’ transcribed record must be interpreted against the pagan cultures in which not only the Persians but, also, the Christian Africanus lived. His veracity is normally reliable and has undergone intense scrutiny over the centuries. But few scholars have in recent times given much credence to this fanciful account. Is the following narrative the reason why the Magi came to adore the newborn Jesus? The reader is encouraged to read all of Africanus’ Narrative of Events Happening in Persia On The Birth Of Christ and judge for him/herself:

“Events in Persia (Parthia): on the Incarnation of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Christ first of all became known from Persia. For nothing escapes the learned jurists of that country, who investigate all things with the utmost care. The facts, therefore, which are inscribed upon the golden plates, and laid up in the royal temples, I shall record for it is from the temples there, and the priests connected with them, that the name of Christ has been heard of. Now there is a temple there to Juno, surpassing even the royal palace, which temple Cyrus, that prince instructed in all piety, built, and in which he dedicated in honor of the gods golden and silver statues, and adorned them with precious stones, that I may not waste words in a profuse description of that ornamentation. Now about that time (as the records on the plates testify), the king having entered the temple, with the view of getting an interpretation of certain dreams, was addressed by the priest Prupupius thus: I congratulate thee, master: Juno has conceived. And the king, smiling, said to him, Has she who is dead conceived? And he said, Yes, she who was dead has come to life again, and begets life. And the king said, What is this? explain it to me. And he replied, In truth, master, the time for these things is at hand. For during the whole night the images, both of gods and goddesses, continued beating the ground, saying to each other, Come, let us congratulate Juno. And they say to me, Prophet, come forward congratulate Juno, for she has been embraced. And I said, How can she be embraced who no longer exists? To which they reply, She has come to life again, and is no longer called Juno, but Urania. For the mighty Sol has embraced her. Then the goddesses say to the gods, making the matter plainer, Pege is she who is embraced for did not Juno espouse an artificer? And the gods say, That she is rightly called Pege , we admit. Her name, moreover, is Myria for she bears in her womb, as in the deep, a vessel of a myriad talents’ burden. And as to this title Pege, let it be understood thus: This stream of water sends forth the perennial stream of spirit, a stream containing but a single fish, taken with the hook of Divinity, and sustaining the whole world with its flesh as though it were in the sea. You have well said, She has an artificer [in espousal] but by that espousal she does not bear an artificer on an equality with herself. For this artificer who is born, the son of the chief artificer, framed by his excellent skill the roof of the third heavens, and established by his word this lower world, with its threefold sphere of habitation.

Thus, then, the statues disputed with each other concerning Juno and Pege, and with one voice they said: When the day is finished. we all, gods and goddesses, shall know the matter clearly. Now, therefore, master, tarry for the rest of the day. For the matter shall certainly come to pass. For that which emerges is no common affair. And when the king abode there and watched the statues, the harpers of their own accord began to strike their harps, and the muses to sing and whatsoever creatures were within, whether quadruped or fowl, in silver and gold, uttered their several voices. And as the king shuddered, and was filled with great fear, he was about to retire. For he could not endure the spontaneous tumult. The priest therefore said to him, Remain, O king, for the full revelation is at hand which the God of gods has chosen to declare to us.

And when these things were said, the roof was opened, and a bright star descended and stood above the pillar of Pege, and a voice was heard to this effect: Sovereign Pege, the mighty Son has sent me to make the announcement to you, and at the same time to do you service in parturition, designing blameless nuptials with you, O mother of the chief of all ranks of being, bride of the triune Deity. And the child begotten by extraordinary generation is called the Beginning and the End, the beginning of salvation, and the end of perdition. And when this word was spoken, all the statues fell upon their faces, that of Pege alone standing, on which also a royal diadem was found placed, having on its upper side a star set in a carbuncle and an emerald. And on its lower side the star rested.

And the king forthwith gave orders to bring in all the interpreters of prodigies, and the sages who were under his dominion. And when all the heralds sped with their proclamations, all these assembled in the temple. And when they saw the star above Pege, and the diadem with the star and the stone, and the statues lying on the floor, they said: O king, a root divine and princely has risen, bearing the image of the King of heaven and earth. For Pege-Myria is the daughter of the Bethlehemite Pege. And the diadem is the mark of a king, and the star is a celestial announcement of portents to fall on the earth. Out of Judah has arisen a kingdom which shall subvert all the memorials of the Jews. And the prostration of the gods upon the floor prefigured the end of their honour. For he who comes, being of more ancient dignity, shall displace all the recent. Now therefore, O king, send to Jerusalem. For you will find the Christ of the Omnipotent God borne in bodily form in the bodily arms of a woman. And the star remained above the statue of Pege, called the Celestial, until the wise men came forth, and then it went with them.

And then, in the depth of evening, Dionysus appeared in the temple, unaccompanied by the Satyrs, and said to the images: Pege is not one of us, but stands far above us, in that she gives birth to a man whose conception is in divine fashion. O priest Prupupius! what dost thou tarrying here? An action, indicated in writings of old, has come upon us, and we shall be convicted as false by a person of power and energy. Wherein we have been deceivers, we have been deceivers and wherein we have ruled, we have ruled. No longer give we oracular responses. Gone from us is our honour. Without glory and reward are we become. There is One, and One only, who receives again at the hands of all His proper honour. For the rest, be not disturbed. No longer shall the Persians exact tribute of earth and sky. For He who established these things is at hand, to bring practical tribute to Him who sent Him, to renew the ancient image, and to put image with image, and bring the dissimilar to similarity. Heaven rejoices with earth, and earth itself exults at receiving matter of exultation from heaven. Things which have not happened above, have happened on earth beneath. He whom the order of the blessed has not seen, is seen by the order of the miserable. Flame threatens those dew attends these. To Myria is given the blessed lot of bearing Pege in Bethlehem, and of conceiving grace of grace. Judaea has seen its bloom, and this country is fading. To Gentiles and aliens, salvation is come to the wretched, relief is ministered abundantly. With right do women dance, and say, Lady Pege, Spring-bearer, thou mother of the heavenly constellation. Thou cloud that bringest us dew after heat, remember thy dependents, O mistress.

The king then, without delay, sent some of the Magi under his dominion with gifts, the star showing them the way. And when they returned, they narrated to the men of that time those same things which were also written on the plates of gold, and which were to the following effect:

When we came to Jerusalem, the sign, together with our arrival, roused all the people. How is this, say they, that wise men of the Persians are here, and that along with them there is this strange stellar phenomenon? And the chief of the Jews interrogated us in this way: What is this that attends you, and with what purpose are you here? And we said: He whom ye call Messias is born. And they were confounded, and dared not withstand us. But they said to us, By the justice of Heaven, tell us what ye know of this matter. And we made answer to them: Ye labour under unbelief and neither without an oath nor with an oath do ye believe us, but ye follow your own heedless counsel. For the Christ, the Son of the Most High, is born, and He is the subverter of your law and synagogues. And therefore is it that, struck with this most excellent response as with a dart, ye hear in bitterness this name which has come upon you suddenly.And they then, taking counsel together, urged us to accept their gifts, and tell to none that such an event had taken place in that land of theirs, lest, as they say, a revolt rise against us. But we replied: We have brought gifts in His honour, with the view of proclaiming those mighty things which we know to have happened in our country on occasion of His birth and do ye bid us take your bribes, and conceal the things which have been communicated to us by the Divinity who is above the heavens, and neglect the commandments of our proper King? And after urging many considerations on us, they gave the matter up. And when the king of Judaea sent for us and had some converse with us, and put to us certain questions as to the statements we made to him, we acted in the same manner, until he was thoroughly enraged at our replies. We left him accordingly, without giving any greater heed to him than to any common person.

And we came to that place then to which we were sent, and saw the mother and the child, the star indicating to us the royal babe. And we said to the mother: What art thou named, O renowned mother? And she says: Mary, masters. And we said to her: Whence art thou sprung? And she replies: From this district of the Bethlehemites. Then said we: Hast thou not had a husband? And she answers: I was only betrothed with a view to the marriage covenant, my thoughts being far removed from this. For I had no mind to come to this. And while I was giving very little concern to it, when a certain Sabbath dawned, and straightway at the rising of the sun, an angel appeared to me bringing me suddenly the glad tidings of a son. And in trouble I cried out, Be it not so to me, Lord, for I have not a husband. And he persuaded me to believe, that by the will of God I should have this son.

Then said we to her: Mother, mother, all the gods of the Persians have called thee blessed. Thy glory is great for thou art exalted above all women of renown, and thou art shown to be more queenly than all queens.

The child, moreover, was seated on the ground, being, as she said, in His second year, and having in part the likeness of His mother. And she had long hands, and a body somewhat delicate and her color was like that of ripe wheat and she was of a round face, and had her hair bound up. And as we had along with us a servant skilled in painting from the life, we brought with us to our country a likeness of them both and it was placed by our hand in the sacred temple, with this inscription on it: To Jove the Sun, the mighty God, the King of Jesus, the power of Persia dedicated this.

And taking the child up, each of us in turn, and bearing Him in our arms, we saluted Him and worshipped Him, and presented to Him gold, and myrrh, and frankincense, addressing Him thus: We gift Thee with Thine own, O Jesus, Ruler of heaven. Ill would things unordered be ordered, were Thou not at hand. In no other way could things heavenly be brought into conjunction with things earthly, but by Thy descent. Such service cannot be discharged, if only the servant is sent us, as when the Master Himself is present neither can so much be achieved when the king sends only his satraps to war, as when the king is there himself. It became the wisdom of Thy system, that Thou shouldst deal in this manner with men.

And the child leaped and laughed at our caresses and words. And when we had bidden the mother farewell, and when she had shown us honor, and we had testified to her the reverence which became us, we came again to the place in which we lodged. And at eventide there appeared to us one of a terrible and fearful countenance, saying: Get ye out quickly, lest ye be taken in a snare. And we in terror said: And who is he, O divine leader, that plotteth against so august an embassage? And he replied: Herod but get you up straightway and depart in safety and peace.

And we made speed to depart thence in all earnestness and we reported in Jerusalem all that we had seen. Behold, then, the great things that we have told you regarding Christ and we saw Christ our Saviour, who was made known as both God and man. To Him be the glory and the power unto the ages of the ages. Amen.”—Article by Sandra Sweeny Silver


Not much is known about the outside appearance of the ship, but Athenaeus describes that the top deck, which was wider than the rest of the ship, was supported by beautifully crafted wooden Atlases instead of simply wooden columns. [4] Additionally, the top deck featured eight towers, equipped with two archers and four fully armed men. [4] On the bow of the ship was a raised platform for fighting, on top of which was a giant catapult. [4] 20 rows of oars would also have been visible from the outside, and possibly a promenade lined with flowers and tents for use by the passengers. [4]


In terms of passenger comfort, Syracusia would be the equivalent of Titanic compared to other ships of the era. [5] Her innovative design and sheer size allowed for the creation of various recreational spaces aboard, including a garden and an indoor bath room with hot water. [4] The lower levels of the ship were reserved for the crew and the soldiers on board, while the upper levels were for the use of passengers. [1] [4] According to Athenaeus, the ship was beautifully decorated using materials such as ivory and marble, while all public spaces were floored with mosaics depicting the entire story of the Iliad. [1] [4] [6] The ship was also equipped with a library, a drawing room and a gymnasium for use by the passengers, as well as a small temple dedicated to Aphrodite. [1] [4]

1.) Have your child write a final draft of a paper on them. Let them illustrate the boxes with drawings, magazine cut-outs, etc. on the notebooking pages.

2.) Attach samples from nature walks to the pages, write about the walk, and cover the page with a protective sleeve.

3.) Attach a swatch from a sewing project and write about the project or draw a picture of the finished piece.

4.) Turn them into a newspaper-style project and have students write and illustrate articles on any number of topics.

5.) Write a research question on the top of each notebooking page and have the child record what they discover.

6.) Write a vocabulary word on the top of the page. Have the student write the definition beneath it and then write several sentences using the word.

7.) Have your child record the steps of a science experiment and attach a photo of each step.

8.) Use the notebooking pages as a tool to help your child record key information about characters in a book or play.

9.) Ask your student to record something they learn each day on a page, creating a keepsake of your homeschooling year.

10.) Use the pages to create a detailed timeline of an event or period your student is studying in history. By recording a single date and fact per page, they can create a timeline notebook that takes them through the topic one fact at a time.

We have lots of notebooking companions in our online store. Our best-selling ones accompany the Julia Rothman Series.

Scroll down to the bottom for your free blank notebooking page templates.

Notebooking is very popular with Carrie’s homeschool. Her primary method of homeschooling is written narration via notebooking pages. She has a membership with Productive Homeschooling, formerly Notebooking Pages and she has used it for over 8 years with both of her children.

When her oldest was in fourth grade she almost quit homeschooling, that’s when notebooking came in and saved the day! This is her very favorite homeschooling resource.

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Access 30 FREE notebooking templates with boxes and borders to jazz up your notebook pages.

The Inventions of Archimedes

The Gold Crown

The speculations surrounding this incident are aplenty, but one can draw a conclusion that at least one of the methods is true according to Archimedes’ discovery of the impure gold crown. The story goes like this, Hiero II who was the king of Syracuse, summoned Archimedes to test the pureness of a gold crown because he suspected that the goldsmith hadn’t used a 100% pure gold in its making. The crown, which was in the shape of wreath, was often placed on statues of either a god or a goddess.

Archimedes is said to have tried one of two ways, where arguments of the accuracy of one such method was brought to light. As accurate as the following methods sound, Vitruvius (Roman architect) says that it was “the result of a boundless ingenuity”. While he says that this was how Archimedes tested the weight of the gold crown, it wasn’t explained like so in Archimedes’ writings. This formula would later be called Archimedes’ principle on buoyancy where, Buoyancy = weight of displaced fluid.

Method 1 (as told by Vitruvius)
Vitruvius says, “The solution which occurred when he stepped into his bath and caused it to overflow was to put a weight of gold equal to the crown, and known to be pure, into a bowl which was filled with water to the brim. Then the gold would be removed and the king’s crown put in, in its place. An alloy of lighter silver would increase the bulk of the crown and cause the bowl to overflow.”

Method 2 (most probable case)
Archimedes is said to have suspended the gold crown and a gold piece with the same weight that was supposed to be used, above a tub of water. When sunk into the water, the crown is said to have been placed a little higher than the gold piece (lighter than the latter), proving to Archimedes that an alloy of silver may have been used in making the crown. This presented clear evidence that the goldsmith hadn’t used pure gold while making the crown.

The Iron Claw

The account of this invention is vague, in the sense that it doesn’t fully explain exactly how Archimedes designed the final structure. There are many variations of the ‘iron claw’ which Archimedes designed and had consequently constructed in order to ward off attacking ships. The mechanism of the iron claw was to upturn ships that approached the walls of Syracuse, where it would be lowered into the sea from a height. Once the claw fastened itself to the ship’s underbelly, it would be tugged in an upward fashion. Once they were released, the ships would either fall to their sides or be dropped from a height that forced it to sink.

Exaggerated Depiction of the Iron Claw in a Wall Painting by Giulio Parigi [via Wikimedia Commons (PD)]

Archimedes’ Lever

A lever is a beam or rod connected to the ground by a pivot, called a fulcrum where it is used to displace heavy objects using a kind of mechanism. Archimedes has been quoted (“ Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with it .“) about the use of the lever when he perfected the principle of levers mathematically. This is known as the law of the lever . It is expressed using the formula below.

There are different sorts of levers depending upon the placement of the resistance, fulcrum, and the exerted energy. In the image above, you can clearly see how the position of these elements come together to work out a particular task or action.

Variations of Archimedes’ Lever [Pearson Scott Foresman/via Wikimedia Commons (PD)]

Archimedes’ Screw

This is perhaps his most significant invention where Archimedes designed a structure that allowed water from a low lying plain to reach irrigation canals without laborious effort. The SS Archimedes was a ship named after the great inventor, which was the first steamship to come with a screw propeller.

It was first called the Egyptian screw since Archimedes had been to Egypt on a visit from Syracuse. King Hiero II wanted Archimedes to design a huge ship that could hold an approximate of 600 people, complete with a gymnasium, temple, and garden-like interiors. When bilge water accumulated to a point where it became too deep (on the ship Syracusia ), a man could pump out the water using the same screw design (fitted within a cylindrical structure) by Archimedes.

Archimedean Screw [Peterlewis at en.wikipedia/from Wikimedia Commons (PD)]

Burning Mirrors

Archimedes as previously mentioned, came up with a way to defend the city of Syracuse by inventing the iron claw. Likewise, he came up with a way of erecting large mirrors placed at designated locations on land while positioning them in such a way that it targeted enemy ships at sea. Once the sunbeams reflected off the mirror, it ignited the enemy ships within moments. There are those that say such a thing may not have been possible since this method would only prove effective if weather conditions suited the mechanism’s working.

Others who tried to confirm the invention’s usage, found that a ship at a distance couldn’t be ignited – 400 ft. away to be exact. One such experiment was done by Ioannis Sakkas, a Greek scientist, who placed 70 mirrors around a Roman ship mock-up, which immediately burst into flames when the sun’s light was concentrated. It was 160 ft. away and coated in tar paint which may have been the reason behind it being so flammable. Because tar paint was used frequently as a coating on ships back in the day, it made the existence of the invention highly probable.

Worthy Mentions

  • He came up with a block-and-tackle pulley mechanism that allowed a person to lift heavy objects that weren’t possible to move. It was designed using a series of ropes that were held with pulleys and heaved from a height.
  • Archimedes was known for improving the accuracy of the catapult which was used to direct missiles at the enemy.
  • He proved a formula (which was also his favorite mathematical proof) that worked out the math on how to determine the area of a circle encapsulated within a cylinder. He derived how a sphere has 2/3 the surface area and volume of the cylinder that holds it.

Line Art Drawing of a block-and-tackle Mechanism [Pearson Scott Foresman /via Wikimedia Commons (PD)]

Real-size Drawing of a Ballista [Vissarion/via Wikimedia Commons (PD)]

Andertxuman (own work)/via Wikimedia Commons (PD)

Archimedes was not only brilliant, but humble and ready to be of service when called upon. While his death ended in an unfortunate manner, his legacy as one of the greatest men in multiple fields has earned him a place that will be remembered for years to come. There’s so much more that he has done and contributed to respective fields, that his inventions are only a chunk of an entire array of commendable works.

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