Size: c 42, 9

Deceres c 46,9


With the division of Alexander's empire into smaller polities, the eastern Mediterranean was dominated by Macedon to the north-west, the Lysimachid kingdom in Thrace, as well as the Egyptian Lagids to the south and the Seleucids in the Middle East — all maritime powers by virtue of their proximity to the sea. At the same time, conflict was also brewing between the Greeks and the Phoenicians who had colonised Italy and the North African coast, and who felt that their strategic and commercial interests were increasingly being threatened by one another.

This continued state of tensions between the many powers of the Mediterranean resulted in an arms race between the many kings and states of the Mediterranean to see who could built the largest and most powerful ships. The first of these ships were the quinqueremes or "fives" which could assign five rowers to three oars — making them more agile and capable of carrying heavier loads. Technological innovation soon led to the creation of "sevens" or hepteres or septiremes. In contrast to the quinquereme, however, septireme vessels tended to be slightly shorter but broader of beam, allowing for ease of steering while retaining more deck space. Eventually the hepteres was superseded by the deceres or "ten", which was not only larger, but had even longer oars for propulsion!