02 December, 2003
The reconstructed Minoan-era ship ''Minos'', built entirely with materials and tools used by the ancient Minoan civilization, was launched at the city Hania on Crete on Monday.
The ship was built at the old Venetian Shipyards in Hania using techniques developed by the Minoans 3,500 years ago, making it the most ancient type of ship produced by a European civilization that is currently known.
It was built of cypress logs tied together with ropes and driven by oars, while its construction took nearly three years from planning to completion, having started in February 2001. The project was carried out by the Crete Naval Museum in collaboration with the Institute for Research into Ancient Shipbuilding and Technology ''Navdomos'', which directed the program, the research and the building of the ship.
Monday's launch was included in a series of events to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Crete's Union with Greece, attended by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and former Cyprus president Glafcos Clerides.
The predecessor of the Minoan ship is believed to be a flat raft, which was gradually curved to create a hull and made watertight with the use of material on its outer surface. Research pointed to a primarily oar-powered ship, assisted by simple sails in a secondary capacity, while the hull was built of split cypress logs tied together with ropes.
The internal layout of the ship, combined with its ergonomics and the anthropometry of its crew, creates a hydrodynamic, tear-shaped vessel about 17 meters long and four meters wide that was well adapted to navigating the Aegean Sea, where the original chiefly traveled.
The prototype was designed using 3-D digital modeling techniques, while the next stage was to build a solid model made of five-meter cypress logs that simulated the entire process and whether the final result would be sea-worthy.
Actual construction of the ship began in December 2002 by a local traditional shipyard.
The ''Minos'' will now go on a few short test trips in spring 2004 for the final technical adjustments and to allow the crew to become familiar with its use. After the testing phase, the first main experimental trip from Crete to Attica will begin in the summer of 2004, in order to test the correctness of the entire research approach.
The voyage is expected to take at least 16-17 days using oars, rowing only during daylight hours and near to the shore at all times. It will travel from western Crete and along the coast of the eastern Peloponnese toward the Saronic Gulf and Piraeus.
The Crete Naval Museum hopes that the ''Minos'' will be able to participate in the program of events during the Olympic Games in 2004 and that it will bear the Olympic Torch during the last part of its journey.
After the trip to Attica, the ship will become the main exhibit in a permanent exhibition on ancient and traditional shipbuilding to be set up at Hania's Venetian Shipyards, from where it will be loaned to events and exhibition in Greece and abroad.
Source: Athens News Agency