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The Peiraeus and the Shipping

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Page 7

The Three War Harbors and the Ship House

 

    Many other points about these "round ships" interest us; but such matters they share with the men-of-war, and our inspection has now brought us to the navy yard. There are strictly three separate navy yards, one at each of the harbors of Munychia, Zea, and Cantharus, for the naval strength of Athens is so great that it is impossible to concentrate the entire fleet at one harbor. Each of these establishments is protected by having two strong battlements or breakwaters built out, nearly closing the respective harbor entrances. At the end of each breakwater is a tower with parapets for archers, and capstans for dragging a huge chain across the harbor mouth, thus effectively sealing the entrance to any foe.[8] The Zea haven has really the greatest warship capacity, but the Cantharus is a good type for the three.[9] As we approach it from the merchant haven, we see the shelving shore closely lined with curious structures which do not easily explain themselves. There are a vast number of dirty, shelving roofs, slightly tilted upward towards the land side, and set at right angles to the water's edge. They are each about 150 feet long, some 25 feet wide, about 20 feet high, and are set up side by side with no passage between. On close inspection we discover these are ship houses. Under each of the roofs is accommodated the long slim hull of a trireme, kept safe from sea and weather until the time of need, when a few minutes' work at a tackle and capstan will send it down into harbor, ready to tow beside a wharf for outfitting.

 

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