Argo was the name of the ship after her shipbuilder Argos. Tradition wants him to be well-known and famous and this is another evidence that by that time Hellenes had developed a good navigation. The Argo was built near Pelion Mount most possible at Pagasses. The men who took part in the expedition were called Argonautae or Minyas, and the expedition Argonautic Expedition or else Argonautica.

The shape of the ship was oblong and this is the reason for giving her the name "the long vessel", as well. It was the first long vessel as, until that time, they had been using only small round-shaped ships. Some sources say that the Argo was a fifty-oared ship while some others say that there were thirty oars on each side. Hence, they estimate that the Argo's length must have been between 22 or 25 metres. The wood that was used was probably oak and pine.The Argo was equipped with all those implements and tackling necessary for the management and guiding of the ship. It was a hard constructed ship, able to sail in open seas and stand up well to the blows of the huge waves.

Although the Argo - and every prehistoric Hellenic ship - had no engine, she had a great advantage compared to the ships of today: She did not need a port to call at. Because of her low draught she could easily and safely approach a sandy coast and after the removal of the mast, the rudder, the ropes, the anchors, the oars and anything else that could be carried away she could be hauled by the Argonauts on the sand by means of cylindrical pieces of wood - "falangia" in Greek - which they always carried with them (Argonautica by Orpheus 272-273, 1104). Because she had to be hauled up the beach in order to avoid possible destruction by a sea-storm, the Argo did not have a deck as its additional weight would render her hauling impossible. It was this great advantage of the prehistoric Hellenic vessels which made possible the accomplishment of those amazing and incredible explorations at that time.

At the prow Athena fitted in a "speaking" timber from the oak of Dodona which would advise the Argonauts on the right course. In fact, that "speaking " timber ("Koraki" in the Hellenic nautical terminology) operated like a compass, and it corresponded to the North while the steering oar ("Diaki" in the Hellenic nautical terminology) to the South. The imaginary line between the steering oar and the "speaking" timber extended towards a certain point of the horizon-which was determined by the positions of stars (eg the Pole Star)- enabled the Captain to trace the course of the ship approximately.

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Last updated: 21 March 1996 23:46:00