A trireme named Isis: the sgraffito from Nymphaion



A large and detailed image of a Hellenistic galley with the name‘Isis’inscribed on its bow was found in a cult centre at ancient Nymphaion, near modern-day Kertsch, in 1984. Given the likelihood that warships received written names on their hulls as early as 480 BCE, the vessel is surely named Isis and is of Ptolemaic origin. When compared to evidence from actual Ptolemaic rams (the Athlit and Actian rams), the Isis ram is clearly for a small class of warship, probably a trireme. We must now rethink our understanding of this image.