Best Ancient Navies?

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,328
Netherlands
#21
Yes, Carthage, at the beginning, was the Phoenician colony of "Qart Ḥadasht", so that we can consider it a Phoenician entity as well. Roman fleets existed also in the North. There was one in Great Britain able to circumnavigate the isle [Romans navigated North of Scotland without troubles].

Anyway, making a balance between historical context and achievements ... the Phoenicians, in my opinion, remain the "best" sailors of the ancient times.
Don't forget the Romans also had war ships on the rivers, like the Rhine. Which isn't an easy feat at all as I think only the Chinese had both war ships at sea and on rivers at those times.
 
Mar 2018
323
UK
#22
Having ships on rivers is normally easier than on the sea: Smaller boats will do, no need to worry about provisions or navigations, far fewer weather concerns, etc... I'd presume that fluvial fleets are rarer (or at least, less talked about) than maritime ones because they are generally a lot less useful. That only the Romans and Chinese had fluvial fleets in antiquity probably says more about geography than naval capabilities.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,328
Netherlands
#23
Having ships on rivers is normally easier than on the sea: Smaller boats will do, no need to worry about provisions or navigations, far fewer weather concerns, etc... I'd presume that fluvial fleets are rarer (or at least, less talked about) than maritime ones because they are generally a lot less useful. That only the Romans and Chinese had fluvial fleets in antiquity probably says more about geography than naval capabilities.
Not entirely. Rivers are much tougher to navigate, in particular as some sort of patrol. For starters sailing is a problem with a reasonably sized ship, even with oars. Now it is entirely possible to do so, but it is quite rare to have that same entity patrolling the mare nostrum or sail in the North Sea. Basically on sea you want a ship to lie deep, while on a river you would want it to lie shallow.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,332
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#25
Don't forget the Romans also had war ships on the rivers, like the Rhine. Which isn't an easy feat at all as I think only the Chinese had both war ships at sea and on rivers at those times.
Sure, they had deployed several "classis" [like they called a fleet]. On the great European rivers they organized a military presence [just to control those ways of transport and trade, but also natural borders]. The fleet you have mentioned was the Classis Germanica, on the Danube there were other two fluvial Roman fleets: the Classis Pannonica [which patrolled the "limes danubiano"] and the Classis Moesica. Also great Alpine lakes like this [the "Verbanus Lacus" or "Lacus Maximus"] saw a presence of the Roman Navy, but I'm not aware there was a classis dedicated to it.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,332
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#26
I add a note about Romans and navigation along rivers.

Actually it's in their DNA, simply because, since the very beginning of the existence of Rome the city had a fluvial port: river Tiber is navigable and Romans have always taken advantage from this characteristic of that river. Then [since the fluvial port was wide, but not enough for the capital of a great power] they used Ostia, on the coast, as main port for import / export.
 
Mar 2018
323
UK
#28
Not entirely. Rivers are much tougher to navigate, in particular as some sort of patrol. For starters sailing is a problem with a reasonably sized ship, even with oars. Now it is entirely possible to do so, but it is quite rare to have that same entity patrolling the mare nostrum or sail in the North Sea. Basically on sea you want a ship to lie deep, while on a river you would want it to lie shallow.
By navigate I meant finding your position and knowing where to go. I'm not saying rivers are trivial to navigate, but definitely less technologically difficult that open seas (or even following the shores). I think the egyptians went up and down the nile for millennia before trying to sail on the red sea?
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,332
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#29
By navigate I meant finding your position and knowing where to go. I'm not saying rivers are trivial to navigate, but definitely less technologically difficult that open seas (or even following the shores). I think the egyptians went up and down the nile for millennia before trying to sail on the red sea?
It's evident that to navigate along a river offers a clear advantage: it's really difficult to get lost!

Regarding when Ancient Egyptians begun to navigate along the River Nile, there are representations from the late Neolithic age showing them on boats really similar to the ones that the Monarchs / Pharaohs would have used not a few centuries later.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,328
Netherlands
#30
By navigate I meant finding your position and knowing where to go. I'm not saying rivers are trivial to navigate, but definitely less technologically difficult that open seas (or even following the shores). I think the egyptians went up and down the nile for millennia before trying to sail on the red sea?
No by that I mean that you need to avoid all kinds of treacherous currents, banks, undeeps etc. That is not easy with a relatively big warship. There is a reason that e.g. the Rhine is full of artificial additions like canals cutting out curves, groynes etc. Nevermind that the Rhine looked rather different 2k years ago.
 

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