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Head of Neco

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Neco, the son of Psamatik I., from the moment that he ascended the throne, resolved to make the bold stroke for empire from which his father had held back. Regarding his mercenary army as a sufficient land force, he concentrated his energies on the enlargement and improvement of his navy, which was weak in numbers and of antiquated construction. Naval architecture had recently made great strides, first by the inventiveness of the Phœnicians, who introduced the bireme, and then by the skill of the Greeks, who, improving on the hint furnished them, constructed the trireme. Neco, by the help of Greek artificers, built two fleets, both composed of triremes, one in the ports which opened on the Red Sea, the other in those upon the Mediterranean. He then, with the object of uniting the two fleets into one, when occasion should require, made an attempt to re-open the canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, which had been originally constructed by Seti I. and Ramesses II., but had been allowed to fall into disrepair. The Nile mud and the desert sand had combined to silt it up.