Friday, 19 August 2016
Military History Photo Friday: Roman Warship Ram
I haven't blogged in a while because I've been up in Oxford for my usual summer research and writing trip. Besides that, I've been hiking and visiting museums. The best exhibition of the summer is certainly the Ashmolean Museum's Storms, War & Shipwrecks Treasures from the Sicilian Seas, which I've written up for Black Gate. This show looks at the amazing finds from more than a dozen shipwrecks around Sicily.
One of the more unusual displays shows three warship rams from the Battle of the Egadi Islands, fought between the Roman and Carthaginian navies in 241 BC. It was the final battle of the First Punic War and an important Roman victory. A fleet of 200 Roman warships ambushed a convoy of 250 heavily laden Carthaginian warships. The Romans sunk 50 ships and captured 70, while losing only 30 of their own. They seized control of Sicily and began to dominate the Mediterranean. Of course it would take two more Punic Wars before the Romans vanquished their rivals once and for all.
The ram shown here once adorned the prow of a Roman warship. You can just see on the top a decoration in the form of a helmet. The spiky bits would have been just below the waterline and apparently they made a direct hit on some poor Carthaginian vessel, because a chunk of wood is still stuck in the bottom groove!
Check out my article for more on this great exhibition. I blog on Black Gate every Wednesday.