Byblos Ship 8: The Steering Deck
A small deck is depicted at the ship’s stern, where the crew members handling the steering oars would stand. The deck appears to stand on a series of logs, placed laterally across the gunwales (image 1A). The deck is surrounded by a low railing, held in place by coiled ropes (image 1B). Three long steering oars were used per side (image 1C). The steering oars were not as efficient as a rudder (which had not been invented yet), especially when travelling under sail. Seagoing ships in particular often had to use more than one pair of steering oars. In depictions the oars seem to pass behind the short railing (image 1D), indicating that a gap existed between the railing and the deck planking.