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Conference Papers Year : 2019

The naval battle of Actium and the myth of the ship-holder: the effect of bathymetry

La bataille navale d'Actium et le mythe de l'arrête-nef : l'effet de la bathymétrie

Abstract

A myth of antiquity is explained with modern science in the context of an ancient naval battle. A legend was invoked by the admiral Pliny the Elder to explain the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra against Octavian at the naval battle of Actium. A fish, called echeneis or remora, is said to have the power to stop ships or to delay their motion by adhering to the hull. Naturalists have since studied how the fish sucking-disk with its typical pattern of parallel striae sticks to its host. Here we show the pattern of the free surface measured in a towing tank in the wake of an ancient galley is similar to the striae pattern of the fish. We have measured the bathymetry at the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf that influenced the physical environment of the battle. The computations demonstrate the increase of wave resistance of a galley as a function of the draft to the water depth ratio in shallow water corresponding to the appearance of a particular wake pattern: the echeneidian free surface pattern.
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Dates and versions

hal-02139218 , version 1 (24-05-2019)

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Johan Fourdrinoy, Clément Caplier, Yann Devaux, Germain Rousseaux, Areti Gianni, et al.. The naval battle of Actium and the myth of the ship-holder: the effect of bathymetry. 5th MASHCON - International Conference on Ship Manoeuvring in Shallow and Confined Water with non-exclusive focus on manoeuvring in waves, wind and current, Flanders Hydraulics Research; Maritime Technology Division, Ghent University, May 2019, Ostend, Belgium. WWC007 (pp 104 - 133). ⟨hal-02139218⟩
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