By this proposal we seek sponsors that could provide financial support for our project "IVLIA II". We building a replica of a bireme - a ship that ancient Greeks commonly used for navigating the sea in the VII-V centuries BC. This ship will be used by the international expedition that will sail the Black and Mediterranean seas in order to conduct experimental study of ancient shipbuilding, navigation and geography. During the voyage, we will also organize a series of exhibits and shows aimed at popularizing ancient history. Finally, the expedition will conduct scientific research in the fields of history of navigation, underwater archaeology, and marine ecology. The results of the proposed project will certainly be of great interest for the world’s scientific community and will draw close attention of the public and mass-media.

Unlimited sea expanses, which had been dividing people in the archaic times, became the uniting basis in the period of Antiquity. Seafaring became the base of economical and political prosperity of the ancient cultures. Phoenicia, Hellas and Rome led an acute struggle for domination over the sea. The ancient world was boiling up as а pot, pouring out the energetically and courageous population of the prosperous city states to all the corners of Ecumene. That was the beginning of the Great Greek Colonization, which left us luxuriant scientific heritage in many spheres including the history of seafaring and shipbuilding.

Intensification of trade relationships between Greece and its trading posts and colonies stimulated further development of navigation and shipbuilding. The Greeks had learned to build large ships capable of sailing in the open sea. The first water pilot of the Inhabited Sea (the so-called Periplus of Skylax) shows that ancient Greeks explored the remotest corners of the Mediterranean Basin as early as 2500 years ago. The Ancient Hellas is admittedly considered to be the cultural cradle of the modern Western civilization. Our ancient vessel and its international crew will represent the peoples, inhabiting the continent, as we are all sailing in one boat called "Еuroре".

kvadratusPREVIOUS RESEARCHESkvadratus

In 1989 the authors of the project built the first "Ivlia", on which six international complex expeditions were held. Following the routs of ancient seafarers the vessel over passed more than 3000 nautical miles and visited over 50 ports of Europe such as: Odessa - Varna - Istanbul - Athens - Ithaca - Elba - Genoa - Monaco - Cannes - Marseille - Bordeaux - Brest - Rouen - Paris.


The expeditions were also the subject of numerous newspapers ("Le Мonde", "Liberation", "Le Telegramme"), magazine articles (e.g. "Chase Mare") and TV programs (FR 3, TF 1, RAI 1). "Ivlia" was constantly visited by official delegations and thousands of tourists. The ship with its crew took part in international sea festivals: "Colombo’92" (Genoa, Italy), "Brest’92" (France), "Cancal’93" (France), "Vieux Greements’94" (France), "Le Salon Nautique’94" (La Rochelle, France). The calling signal of the expedition RB5FH/mm was permanently put on the air. At different times the crew consisted of more than 200 people, among them the citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, France, Greece, and Georgia.

During the voyage for the first time in the world the navigability of the ancient Greek bireme was tested in practice alongside with some routs of Hellenes seafarers and some information from the ancient water pilot. Completely new data on the methods of navigating the ancient ships, their construction and carrying capacity, were obtained and ancient authors' statements about the crew during the coastwise and high sea navigation were tested experimentally. The technique of using the square sails of the ancient sample, mooring and putting ancient ships to anchor were mastered.

On the whole, the five-year voyage of "Ivlia" became а bright unique page in the ancient history of shipbuilding and seafaring studies.



The results of the research lead to the following main conclusions:

1. The discussions have been going on in the scientific world about how far from the shores went the routs of the ancient seafarers. They have become really heated after the recent sensational find of the ancient Greek ship, which sank at the depth of 3000m in the Mediterranean Sea. Many people think that ancient Greek ships were not nautical and, thus, their pilots kept to the shore. The voyage of "Ivlia" completely denies this statement. The shore, devoid of lighting and navigational signs, (and this is what it was like in the old times) turned out to be more dangerous in the stormy weather than the high sea. We are convinced, and our practical experience gives proof to it, that the level of the development of cartography and navigational knowledge of Hellenes was much higher than it has been thought so far. They could wonderfully orientate themselves by stars, made the high sea crossings without being afraid of moving away from the shore, skilfully employed favourable winds and currents.

2. Ancient Greek sailing-oared vessels possessed higher navigational qualities than it has been considered so far. Their high manoeuvrability and handiness combined with wonderful stability even in absence of ballast, in which role cargo was often used. The correct combination of light and heavy kinds of timber used in building "Ivlia", allowed to refuse using ballast completely. That guaranteed the ship 2.5 tons of positive buoyancy, this was tested in practice (i.е. it preserved the ability to float with all the crew, if the bireme is completely filled up by the water).

3. The navigational practice gave convincing proof hat ancient shipbuilders tried to make their ships light and durable because every kilo is а burden "on oarsmen's shoulders". The safety margin of the first "Ivlia" was just fantastic, which allows us to make а new ship considerably lighter without breaking the rules of the Register and without detriment to the strength of the hull.

4. There is а mistaken opinion that speeds of оаred vessels depend on the number of oarsmen. We were able to deny this statement in practice and to prove that for every oared vessel there is а limit of maximum speed proportionate, in general, to the length of the oar, and to be more precise, to the correlation between the lengths of the spindle and the loom. For "Ivlia" this correlation was 3/1.

5. The stylized images of ancient bireme, which have preserved till nowadays on ancient vases, frescos and so on, do not give clear idea of the disposition of oars, distance between them and fundamental construction of the rowing device. Scientific debates on this subject have been going on since Napoleon times. The practical experience that we gained and theoretical researches of our colleagues from the Museum of Ancient Seafaring (Mainz, Germany) allow us to solve this problem. In the new project the calculation of the ergonomics of the oarsman's work place and the number of oars are the key points and define all the other parameters including the length of the ship's hull.

6. What should be mentioned in particular is high navigability of the bireme in strong favourable wind (till force 7 number Beaufort scale). Even in the absence of the sail, only due to the sail area of the high stern, the ship preserves its stability on the course and does not turn broadside on to the wave.

7. Skilful employment of the upright sail and oars on the leeward side brings down the leeway considerably and allows going not only by the favourable courses (stern wind or backstay wind) but also halfwind. The length of the mast and, consequently, the surface of the sail can be increased by 20%, the more so that the ship has surplus stability. It will increase the speed of sailing up to 7 knots and will also provide the bireme with the more completed architectural look.

8. Quite good weight carrying capacity plus small draught and comparatively high freeboard made а bireme the most adjusted for long-term autonomous voyages. And its high manoeuvrability in combination with quite good speed characteristics also allowed this type of vessels to be used efficiently in the coast guard.

9. Famous triremes, characterized by high military and speed qualities, possessed low navigability and were built to be used exclusively in а battle and were used in big sea war campaigns. Unlike them, biremes were the most common type of the ship which the geographical discoveries of the ancient times were made on. They were capable of making long-term voyages, including the ocean ones, at least we do not see any technical obstacles for this, and we want to prove it in our further researches.

kvadratusTHE BUILDING OF THE NEW SHIPkvadratus

It has become necessary to build an analogue ship and continue the researches, which have been started. The experience, gained by the authors of the project, allows them to make the new "Ivlia" as much as possible similar to its ancient prototypes by its technology, construction, look and navigational characteristics. The technical documentation and plans has been already prepared in the Southern Marine Construction and Research Institute of Odessa. The building is being carried out by the specialists of Shipyard №1 of the Russia’s Navy (Sochi). The «mortise and tenon method» in a design of the sheathing will be used. We are making ample use of the international experience: the materials about the building of the replica of the attic trireme "Olympia" (England, Greece) and the theoretical researches of our colleagues from the Museum of Ancient Seafaring (Mainz, Germany).


This unique ship will be the only replica of the ancient bireme in the world – floating scientific laboratory, it may become the uniting basis for the development of international scientific, cultural and business contacts between the countries of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, between the modern cities in the localities of which there used to be ancient trading posts. The ship may be widely used for advertising and propagandistic purposes during big festivals and celebrations.



Length overall

26,0 m

Breadth overall

4,0 m

Freeboard in the middle

1,4 m


0,6 m


22,5 t

Surface of the sail

72 sq.m

Number of oars

40 pc


44 men


We will undertake experimental sailing from the Black to the Mediterranean Sea. During the voyage we will also conduct scientific research in the fields of ancient history, history of navigation and shipbuilding, archaeology, underwater archaeology, marine ecology and biology.

The international crew of bireme "Ivlia" will consist of the energetically young people which have expressed desire to take part in the voyage. Basically it will be students of universities and other educational institutions. We shall be glad to see onboard of «our ark» representatives of all other continents. The principle of preservation of a nucleus of the crew, necessary for good and safety navigation, will be widely combined with rotation of a part of team in each port. It will allow drawing in the expedition a maximum quantity of youth. The political objectives of the expedition are propagation of preservation of sea tradition - as binding element of the European culture and common cultural heritage. As a whole realization of the project, certainly, will promote wide interosculation of cultural traditions, and also expansion and strengthening of horizontal and vertical communications between youth of all continents.


- The development of seafaring and shipbuilding in the ancient times resulted in complication of the construction of rowing vessels. The number of oars and oarsmen increased remarkably, besides, it should be mentioned that disposition of oars, arrangement of workforce per oar and, finally, the very essence of the classification of the ancient rowing vessels, based on the number of oars, is still disputable in many points. It can be explained by the fact that the pictures of the ships exist in a very limited number, besides, most of them are too stylized and schematic: design on vases, wall paintings, images on coins and sculpture relieves. The literature sources are absolutely occasional by nature, and only complex analytical methods, applied to them, can extract the information which will allow to a certain degree to make conclusions about the ship equipment. It should be taken into consideration that some of these sources, clear and unambiguous enough at first glance, present the notes of very late interpreters of the ancient texts, who knew quite little of the technical aspect of the subject. We think it is necessary to carry out an experiment to clear out this matter and we intend to build a model of the rowing section of the ancient bireme at the 1:1 scale, with the possibility to change the curvature of the board, number of tiers, distance between the oarsmen, lengths of oars and number of oarsmen per oar. Carrying out full-scale stand tests of the rowing device will undoubtedly clear out this knotty question.

- То measure all the manoeuvring elements of the ship during the performance tests in the water, such as: the angles of leeway on different courses in regard to the wind; the radius of circulation; stability on the course; efficient angles of turning the rudder; maximum speed under oars and sail; length of movement from force of inertia; stability moments and so on. To make а comparative analysis of the obtained characteristics with the data of the theoretical tests of the biremes' hull model in the experimental pool. The corresponding program is being worked out now in cooperation with the employees of Odessa Marine University.

- To go by the short sea route of the Hellenes seafarers from the Crimean Cape Sarych (Ram's Forehead, Baraniy Lob) to the Turkish Cape Kerempe (Karambis). The existence of this route is doubtful in the opinion of some scientists, although it is indicated on the ancient water pilots and is quite natural. Because the distance between the northern and southern coasts of the Black Sea is minimal in this place and the favourable currents, operating in both directions, as if on purpose, create а two-way corridor. The existence of large ancient ports of Chersonese (Sevastopol) and Sinope (Sinop) near the extreme points of the route speaks in favour of the existence of this route in the ancient times. We hope that carrying out а practical experiment will put an end to these debates.

- To try to go along the Bosporus Strait in both directions. The matter is that in the archaic times the Greek and their predecessors Phoenicians knew little about the Pontus Euxinus (the Black Sea), although they reached much farther territories in the western direction (for example, Tartessos on the Atlantic coast of Spain). Later, in the times of the Great Colonization, within а relatively short реriod, the Greek founded more than 200 colonies on the shores of the Pont. The reasons of such sharp increase of the interest in the Black Sea shores are still the subject of scientific debates. There exist а lots of theories. We consider technical progress to be the main reason. Appearances of two-tiered ships increase not only the speed of vessels, as it is considered, but also the power of rowing devices. This allowed overcoming strong head currents, hindering from going through the Dardanelles and, especially, the Bosporus Strait in the direction from the South to the North. It was considered impossible to overcome them in Homer epoch, which was reflected in the myth about Argonauts. А famous English traveller Tim Severin had to use, а tugboat at this stage during the reconstruction of the legendary trip for the Golden Fleece. We hope that the realization of the experiment will make things clear in this knotty problem.

- The primitive sail rig led some researchers to deny the ancient ship’s ability to tack against the wind. However, there exists unchallengeable evidence, which allows stating the opposite. Thus, Lucian in his dialogue “The Ship” speaks about the seafarers who arrived in Piraeus, tacking (plagiazontes) against the contrary wind. Pliny also mentions sailing against the wind. As it has already been said before, we managed to carry out the experiment, proving the possibility for the first “Ivlia” to go half-wind. Our next step is to try to sail by the wind (i.e. tacking against the contrary wind), having previously changed the position of oars and putting up the sail by the type of the “manipulations” of the ships while overcoming the winds of Effes. We are sure in the success of the experiment which can put an end to the long-term debates.

- More than 50 fragments of ancient anchors have been lifted from the bottom of the Black Sea in the area of the island of Zmeiny (Levke) by our group of scuba-divers in cooperation with the employees of Odessa Archaeological Museum over the past years. Carrying out tests of their models on board "Ivlia" will help to classify and define some of the technical details of ancient anchors.

- During the whole voyage to work out (taking into account more than 2000 annual precession of Earth's axis) which celestial objects could have been used by ancient seafarers to orientate themselves in the sea while sailing to the main ancient centres out of sight of the shore.


The further plans of the expedition include а trip following the legendary voyage of Pytheas of Massalia (Marseille) to the Land of Tin (present days England), along the coast of Spain, France, England and Germany. He was discoverer of Norway (legendary island Tule) in the opinion of Fridtjof Nansen and Тhor Heyerdahl; the North coast of Germany (Amber island Abalus, nowadays Schleswig-Holstein) in the opinion of R. Hennig and, possibly, Iceland. Carrying out the expedition in the track of the grate ancient seafarer, will be the best proof of the navigability of the ancient Greek ships.

The final aim of our researches is preparation and carrying out а series of expeditions in the Atlantic Ocean. Nobody has any doubts nowadays that the Canary Islands and the island of Madeira were known to people in the ancient times. But the question whether regular voyages to the Azores and the Саpe Verde islands were possible is still disputable. Recent research has shown that shipbuilding and navigation skills of the ancient Greeks were by no means inferior to those of the medieval Europe. In particular, it suggests that ancient Greeks were capable of sailing over very large distances. From a technological standpoint, there were no obstacles that could have prevented the Greeks from sailing even as far as did Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama and may be Columbus. The series of voyages of "Ivlia-2" in the Atlantic may give proof to or deny the practical possibility of such travels in the ancient times.



We invite all the interested firms, organizations, enterprises, foundations, associations, individual researches and enthusiasts to take on share holding in financing the project offered, working out the program in а team, direct participation in building the bireme and sailing she. We invite young, energetically, courageous specialists to take part in the expedition. You have а unique opportunity to participate in sailing on the ancient Greek ship. You will be able to confront all the severities and delights of the life of ancient seafarers - fearless discoverers of new lands, plunge into the wonderful world of unforgettable romance, get imbued with the spirit of Hellenes culture, find themselves living in amazing harmony with the world.

The Sponsors can to count on advertising on the sail, flags and crew’s uniform as well as in all television and radio programs, publications in newspapers and magazines, in the films and books about the project and expedition. The names of the individual sponsors will be engraved on separate bronze plaques that will be attached along the board of the ship.

We offer the interested TV companies to obtain the copyright to make а film about building the bireme and holding the excavations, the underwater researches and the expedition «Ivlia».


We hope to work in fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation