Depictions of two-banked ships (biremes), with or without the parexeiresia are common in 8th century BC and later vases and pottery fragments, and it is at the end of that century that the first references to three-banked ships are found. Fragments from an 8th-century relief at the Assyrian capital of Nineveh depicting the fleets of Tyre and Sidon show ships with rams, and fitted with oars pivoted at two levels. They have been interpreted as two-decked warships, and also as triremes.
Modern scholarship is divided on the provenance of the trireme, Greece or Phoenicia, and the exact time it developed into the foremost ancient fighting ship. Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, drawing on earlier works, explicitly attributes the invention of the trireme (trikrotos naus, “three-banked ship”) to the Sidonians. According to Thucydides, the trireme was introduced to Greece by the Corinthians in the late 8th century BC, and the Corinthian Ameinocles built four such ships for the Samians. This was interpreted by later writers, Pliny and Diodorus, to mean that triremes were invented in Corinth, the possibility remains that the earliest three-banked warships originated in Phoenicia.