The Maritime History Podcast



The Maritime History Podcast is a chronological look at maritime history and its numerous facets. Beginning with ancient history, the podcast looks at trade, exploration, boat and ship-building, economics, and the relationship between the ocean and the development of society and culture throughout history. Learn more about the podcast at


  • 038 - The Naval Battle at Salamis

    038 - The Naval Battle at Salamis

    17/01/2020 Duración: 02h02min

    We have finally arrived at the Battle of Salamis. There's a lot of buildup before the battle, and surprisingly, this phase is where a lot of the important pieces were moved into place by the wily Themistocles. We witness scenes in both the Greek and Persian camps the day and night prior to the battle, but once the fleets have moved into position, we then witness the clashing ships and the mayhem of close-quarters battle. Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus makes several appearances throughout, and we conclude with a picture of the battle's aftermath and the resultant carnage. Listen to Ancient Greece Declassified by Lantern Jack Find more detailed notes for today's episode - Show Notes

  • Mini Ep - Ship 17 at Thonis-Heracleion

    Mini Ep - Ship 17 at Thonis-Heracleion

    27/03/2019 Duración: 33min

    In this first of what will be ongoing mini-episodes, we examine the discovery and study of Ship 17 at the ancient Egyptian city of Thonis-Heracleion. After running through the history of this city and it's significance to maritime history, we then read a passage from Herodotus where he describes a baris ship that he saw during his tour of ancient Egypt. We conclude by looking at the archaeological work being done in Thonis-Heracleion by Franck Goddio and Alexandar Belov. Ship 17 in particular has been largely excavated, measured, and thoroughly studied. This rather large ancient Egyptian cargo vessel seems to almost entirely line up with the 'baris' passage from Herodotus, so Ship 17 appears to be the first baris ship to have been discovered in ancient Egypt. Show Notes Sources Belov, Alexandre, A new type of construction evidenced by Ship 17 of Heracleion-Thonis, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 43.2: 314-329, 20

  • 037 - The Naval Battle of Artemisium - Part II

    037 - The Naval Battle of Artemisium - Part II

    18/02/2019 Duración: 01h04min

    In Part II of our look at the naval Battle of Artemisium, we finally get into the heat of battle. The episode is bookended by some trickery and psychological warfare courtesy of the inimitable Themistocles. In the middle, though, we discuss the 3 separate days and 3 separate engagements that made up the battle as a whole. Tactics, planning, chaos: we've got it all today. We've got yet another storm that makes an appearance, and this time it takes 200 Persian ships with it, making them victims of the infamous Hollows of Euboea. Episode Show Notes Website | Patreon | Twitter | Instagram Episode Sources Aeschylus, The Persians. Bradford, Ernle, Thermopylae: The Battle for the West (1980). Hale, John R., Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy (2009). Hammond, N.G.L., A History of Greece to 322 BC (1967). Herodotus, The Histories (Robert Strassler, Ed., Andrea Purvis, Transl., 2007). Holland, Tom, Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West

  • 036 - The Naval Battle of Artemisium - Part I

    036 - The Naval Battle of Artemisium - Part I

    01/01/2019 Duración: 01h05min

    Today we open a chapter onto the naval Battle of Artemisium. We begin by considering a prophecy which illustrates the plight that Greece found herself in as the Persian army and navy entered Europe. We discuss the state of preparation in each relative camp as they made their respective preparations for the battle to come. We then discuss the regions in and around Artemisium and the island of Euboea, where the first naval battle of the war would take place. We consider the strategic advantages inherent in certain sites in the region, the theories about how large each navy would have been at this stage in history, and then we get into the opening moves of the chess game that would set up the conflict at Artemisium. A 'Hellesponter' makes an dramatic appearance, and we witness some mishaps at sea in Part One of our look at the naval Battle of Artemisium. Show Notes -

  • 035 - The Eve of War

    035 - The Eve of War

    20/06/2018 Duración: 01h12min

    In today's episode we take a look at the final moves that both Greece and Persia made on the eve of their war. Themistocles and Aristides take center stage as they maneuver through the political scene of Athens, but with the success of the Themistoclean naval policy, we discuss how the Greeks may have rapidly built up their navy. We consider the Greek congress of city-states, their relative lack of support, and the final measures they took to try and recruit allies. We also consider a canal project and pontoon bridges that Xerxes had built to aid his army and navy as they both marched and sailed west to Greece. We conclude with a rather bizarre scene where the Persians try to beat the Hellespont into subjection and, ultimately, they all make it over into Europe. The stage is set for the final Greco-Persian War. Show Notes -

  • 034 - Marathon and Persian Naval Power

    034 - Marathon and Persian Naval Power

    04/03/2018 Duración: 59min

    A substantial portion of the Persian fleet was wrecked in a storm in 492 BCE, but after Darius ordered it to be rebuilt, they set sail for Greece in the summer of 490. Today's episode examines the state of the Persian navy at this point, after which we discuss the fleet's route to Eritrea and Marathon, the site of one of Greece's most famous military victories. It was a land battle though, so after a brief look at some naval elements connected to it, we paint a picture of Athens after Marathon, where political leaders like Themistocles had to fear the newly popular use of ostracism. We conclude by setting the stage for the third and final Persian invasion of Greece.

  • 033 - A Heraldless War and a Man Named Themistocles

    033 - A 'Heraldless War' and a Man Named Themistocles

    09/01/2018 Duración: 01h04min

    In today's episode the curtain rises on a young man named Themistocles. He's always recognized for the role that he played at Salamis and in the Greek navy's stand against Persia, but today we go back to the earliest we know about his life. We ended last episode in 493 BCE when the Ionian Revolt was effectively ended at Lade, but in that same year Themistocles was made eponymous archon of Athens. Today we look at the early stages of the naval reforms he tried to institute in Athens, with a particular focus on the Athenian port of Phaleron. It was a weak port despite being the only port Athens had used in her history, so after looking at why it was weak, we then look at the location Themistocles proposed as an alternative, the Piraeus. A story that runs through the episode and probably shaped the views of a young Themistocles is one that involves an island rival of Athens, the mercantile power of Aegina. She'd become a naval power before Athens had, so today we look at an undeclared war that simmered between t

  • Halloween Ep. - The Ghost Ship by Richard Middleton

    Halloween Ep. - The Ghost Ship by Richard Middleton

    29/10/2017 Duración: 26min

    Welcome to our third annual Halloween special here at the Maritime History Podcast. Rather than choose a grim, frightening, or eery tale, this year I felt that a more lighthearted fare was in order. This story was written by an Englishman named Richard Middleton. It tells of a quiet countryside village named Fairfield where the townsfolk are as comfortable with the ghosts that populate the village as they are with their neighbors. After a storm one night, a villager finds a ghostly ship at anchor in his turnip garden, and the story continues to elaborate the rather humorous consequences of having a ghost ship in temporary residence in "the ghostliest place in all England." Backing music for this story comes courtesy of Danish pianist Peter Bille Larsen. This specific song is Piano Nocturne No. 2 (A Loving Venus Brought You Stars).

  • 032 - The Letdown at Lade

    032 - The Letdown at Lade

    21/09/2017 Duración: 01h05min

    If Episode 031 covered the heady, opening stages of the Ionian Revolt, then today's episode covers the denouement and rather anticlimactic conclusion of the revolt. At the start of the episode we follow Aristagoras as he goes on a recruiting trip to Sparta and Athens, using a world map to try and sway the Spartan king into joining the revolt. Athenian ships join the revolt, but after some early success in Ionia, Athens quickly withdraws. She has gained the attention of the Persian king by briefly aiding Ionia, but before Darius repays Athenian meddling he resubjugates Ionia and the surrounding regions. The end of the Ionian Revolt and Darius' campaign to retake Ionia centers on Miletus, naturally. The conclusion of our episode focuses on the naval battle that brought an end to the revolt, a letdown of a naval encounter off the island of Lade. Herodotus gives us some great detail about the training of the Ionian navy and the events of the battle itself, so today's episode takes us all over the ancient Greek wo

  • 031 - A Persian Navy, an Ionian Revolt

    031 - A Persian Navy, an Ionian Revolt

    14/08/2017 Duración: 54min

    In today's episode we begin our look at the events that directly contributed to the beginnings of the Greco-Persian War. After a brief summation of the events that brought the early Persian Empire into contact with the Ionian Greeks, we take a look at the evidence and theories about what the naval situation was like in the Aegean during the late 6th century BCE. We then consider how and why Persia went about building up its navy, including how Ionian Greek cities fit into the Persian system once they were subjugated. We then meet a tyrant of Miletus, Aristagoras, who's ambition and cunning spurred an Ionian/Persian invasion of Naxos, where a fleet of 200 ships besieged the island. Following this attempted invasion, we conclude by seeing how Miletus and an Ionian confederation decided to instead seize part of the Persian navy and start revolt against the empire from the east. Somewhere in there we also consider a unique form of punishment aboard a trireme.   Show Notes -

  • 030 - Trireme 101: How to Build, Sail, and Ram and Ancient Greek Warship

    030 - Trireme 101: How to Build, Sail, and Ram and Ancient Greek Warship

    03/06/2017 Duración: 01h46min

    Today we have a lengthy primer focused only on the trireme. After a jaunt through some of the evidence related to when the trireme first came into use on the seas of ancient Greece and the Near East we then take a deep dive into the numerous aspects of the ship itself. We discuss the materials used by ancient shipwrights, the process of building and outfitting a trireme, and the design of this ship that set it apart from the oared galleys of archaic Greece. The trireme was essentially an oar-powered maritime missile, so we then outline the various sailors who made up the typical 200-man contingent of each trireme. The trierarch functioned as a ship captain, and from there we meet the other 199 men, 170 of whom were oarsmen. Much of what we know about the trireme has been confirmed via the reconstruction of Olympias and the ensuing sea trials that she underwent. After a bit about Olympias, we conclude with a look at the naval tactics that developed in the wake of the trireme taking over the naval scene in anci

  • 029 - Trade with Egypt, Conflict with Carthage

    029 - Trade with Egypt, Conflict with Carthage

    28/03/2017 Duración: 01h04min

    In this installment, we continue to follow the Greeks as they expand yet further. Our first destination is Egypt, where the Greek emporion at Naukratis was set up by a diverse group of mercenaries and traders. The recently discovered port of Thonis-Heraklion also makes an appearance, and we see that mercenary sailors worked for the pharaoh at various times. Greece also like Egyptian prostitutes, apparently. The second part of the episode focuses on the extent of Greek meddling in the far western Mediterranean. There the Phocaeans founded Massalia, and tried to get on friendly terms with the locals. But, Cyrus the Great sacked Phocaea in 546 BCE and the Greeks fled to the colony of Alalia on the island of Corsica. Feeling hard done, the Greeks turned to piracy and thereby united Carthage and the Etruscans against them, which resulted in the Battle of the Sardinian Sea. We cover a lot of ground in today's episode!   Show Notes -

  • 028 - Unlocking the Pontus Euxinus

    028 - Unlocking the Pontus Euxinus

    31/01/2017 Duración: 01h03min

    In today's installment, we'll tell a tale of two cities in one sense. The age of colonization in Greece had an early leader in the island of Euboea, but as the Euboeans were stretched thin, Corinth and Miletus rose to become the leaders of Greek colonization. We'll look at the wealth that Corinth controlled thanks partially to her location, but also to the diolkos and other maritime innovations that she instituted. Our second city of focus is Miletus, the 'jewel of Ionia'. She was at the forefront of the Greek push into the Euxine Sea, or, the Black Sea. So after laying out the geography of the 'Pontus Euxinus' and her approaches, we'll look at the colonies, resources, and importance of the Greek effort to unlock the Black Sea. We also consider the aeinautae, a group of magistrates who ruled Miletus by sailing out to sea and weighing anchor until they'd made whatever decision was at hand. An interesting method of governing, to be sure.

  • Halloween Ep. 2.0 - Manuscript Found in a Bottle by Edgar Allan Poe

    Halloween Ep. 2.0 - Manuscript Found in a Bottle by Edgar Allan Poe

    31/10/2016 Duración: 36min

    Welcome to our second annual Halloween special here at the Maritime History Podcast. This year I opted for a nautical tale by the ever-popular American author of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. Some people love this tale, some hate it, but no matter your side, this is a proper sea-tale of weirdness, "ghosts" and an underlying current of horror, so, without any further rambling, I bring you my reading of Manuscript Found in a Bottle by Edgar Allan Poe.

  • 027 - Odysseus Builds a Boat

    027 - Odysseus Builds a Boat

    30/10/2016 Duración: 59min

    Today we fill in some gaps concerning Greek colonization, looking first at the founding of colonies along the eastern coast of Sicily. The Greeks colonized by force more so than did the Phoenicians, so we'll draw some distinctions there and see how the two cultures began to come into more conflict in and around the central Mediterranean. Then, we learn a bit more about the process of Greek colonization, including a small bit about the role that religion played. The Homeric epics then inform us about the state of shipbuilding in the 8th century BCE, with the famous passage where Odysseus builds a boat taking central stage. We wrap up by trying to flesh out why exactly the Greeks and Phoenicians developed animosity toward each other, with tales from Odysseus and Eumaeus from the Odyssey giving us a window into Greek perceptions. The Greeks continue the push west!   Show Notes -   Boat Radio -

  • 026 - Sailing Advice from Hesiod, the Farmer-Poet

    026 - Sailing Advice from Hesiod, the Farmer-Poet

    18/09/2016 Duración: 01h03min

    At long last we make first contact with the Greeks! Today we try to cover the earliest periods of Greek colonization and expansion into the central Mediterranean. Hesiod's writings can give us some insight into the socio-economic conditions in Greece proper, the conditions that spurred the colonization of the 9th and 8th centuries BCE. Early Greek colonies in the Levant connected them with the goods and ideas of the east, flowing west as far is Pithecusae, the oldest Greek settlement west of Greece. From there the colonization really picked up, with settlements being established along the sea-road back toward Greece. We finish our episode by looking at multiple ship depictions on Attic pottery found around the Mediterranean. We try to suss out whether some of these depict galleys or biremes, but the bottom line is the transition to biremes and triremes happened during the colonization phase. By the end today we will have set the stage for the conflicts between trade powers in the central Med, conflicts that w

  • 025 - Carthage: A New (City) Hope

    025 - Carthage: A New (City) Hope

    15/07/2016 Duración: 51min

    This week we follow the fleeing Elissa, princess of Tyre, to Qart-ḥadašt, the "New City" that would come into wider fame as Carthage. We start with some talk of the mythical founding of Carthage, some conjecture about when the city was really founded, and an overview of the city's early growth. Then, we look at two Phoenician shipwrecks discovered over 33 nautical miles off Asheklon, Israel. The Tanit and Elissa are two of the oldest Phoenician shipwrecks discovered to date, and then can tell us a fair amount about Phoenician shipping practices, also about their religious practices in relation to maritime travel. Another long episode with the Phoenicians it is! Show Notes:

  • 024 - Go West, O Tyre, Go West

    024 - Go West, O Tyre, Go West

    17/06/2016 Duración: 01h01min

    This week we follow the Phoenicians to the western extremity of their trade network and colonization. While it is difficult to paint a chronological picture of when each colony was established, the city of Cadiz, or Gadir, quickly became the hub of western trade. Ancient historians confirm that the rich source of silver in Andalusia was the main attraction for Tyrian merchants, and the wealth that eventually began to flow back east from Tartessos had an influence on Assyria's relationship with Phoenicia. We also discuss a few depictions of Phoenician warships, an evacuation of Tyre, and the role of religion in controlling colonial government and trade, so today's episode is a long one!

  • 023 - Setting Up Shop in the Central Med

    023 - Setting Up Shop in the Central Med

    04/05/2016 Duración: 47min

    The Phoenicians are now on the move, pushing the scope of our podcast to the west. While they were mainly concerned with expanding their access to natural resources like copper, iron, and silver, they weren't entering a vacuum. The Nuragic people of Sardinia were active in a regional trade centered on the Tyrrhenian Sea, and soon after the Phoenicians reconnected the Euboeans with the Mediterranean trade networks, both of them had set up colonies on Sardinia and in western Italy. We look at archaeological evidence for all the activity there, but in the end, this episode is a stepping stone to the Phoenician presence in the far west of the Mediterranean, just as Sardinia was for the Iron Age mariners. Show Notes - History of Exploration Podcast - & on iTunes -

  • 022 - Rise of the Phoenicians

    022 - Rise of the Phoenicians

    02/04/2016 Duración: 48min

    The Phoenicians have finally arrived on the historical stage, at least as our humble podcast is concerned. In today's episode, we look at their place in the post-Bronze Age world, along with the rise of the island city of Tyre. The Phoenicians would create a widespread maritime network, leading to their recognition as the preeminent ancient maritime navigators and sailors. This all fell into place after King Hiram I helped Tyre rise to power through an alliance with Israel, after which they founded the first Phoenician colony at Kition on the island of Cyprus. Join us for the first focused look at the Phoenicians. Show Notes -

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