Dr. William Murray: Ancient Naval Warfare

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In his public lecture “Bronze Beaked Ships and the Reality of Naval Warfare,” Dr. William Murray argues that each major ancient Mediterranean power built and maintained navies, as control of the sea was crucial for maintaining control of the Mediterranean. Therefore, it is necessary to study ancient naval warships and technologies to understand more about these powers. However, since the only significant archaeological evidence we have from actual warships are bronze-cast rams, Murray concludes that we must use every available technology to study and analyze these rams, to more fully understand ancient naval warfare.
Navies are just as expensive and difficult to maintain now as during ancient times. Ancient warships utilized the mortise-and-tenon
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This was the first physical evidence for the technologies and techniques of ancient naval warfare. The Athlit ram still contained the remnants of 16 timbers of the poly-reme that it sank with, proving that the force behind a ramming warship was the ship itself, and the force of collision was spread out through the ship’s wales. The Athlit ram also enabled Dr. Murray to connect Augustus’ Victory Monument sockets with the bronze rams of several large poly-reme classes, from ‘tens’ to ‘fours.’ Following the discovery of the Athlit ram, RPM Nautical discovered a major naval battle site and recovered ten more bronze rams. Thought to be the battle site at the Egadi Islands during the First Punic War, the rams found have much smaller wale-pockets than those of the Athlit ram, suggesting the warships to be triremes, or ‘threes.’ The rams were also recovered with their top nails, which secured the ram to the ship, fully intact and unbent. This suggests that warships were capable of sinking outside of the reaches of salvage crews working for the victor of the battle. The Athlit and Egadi rams have provided much physical evidence for naval warfare, but, according to Dr. Murray, it is necessary to study them in every way we know

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