Updated:20/09/2021 01: 40h
More than 2,200 years ago the Roman fleet under the command of Gaius Lutacio Cátulo defeated the Carthaginian led by Hannon the Great in the Naval Battle of the Aegadian Islands. Ancient authors relate that hundreds of ships collided with each other that March 10, 241 BC off the western coast of Sicily, between the Aegadian islands of Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo. The victory gave Rome control of Sicily and the central Mediterranean and was decisive for the end of the First Punic War.
Of that confrontation, which led to the end of 23 years of uninterrupted war, more and more details are known thanks to the work carried out by underwater archaeologists for more than a decade at the site first identified by Sebastiano Tusa and his team in 2005. In the last campaign of excavations last August, they have discovered two bronze battering rams, which are added to the other 23 found to date, and have recovered four more. According to the
Nautical Foundation RPM on
a noteBefore these investigations began, only two rams were known. These naval weapons are among the rarest artifacts from the ancient Mediterranean that have survived to this day.
Archaeologists have also found dozens of lead slinger bullets, used as lethal projectiles in combat, as well as several bronze helmets and cheeks and coins Roman and Greek.
A boat with amphorae from the Iberian Peninsula
In the same area, it was also located a wrecked merchant ship carrying amphoras produced in the Roman provinces of Lusitania and Bética (both in the Iberian Peninsula) dating from the first half of the 4th century AD. C.
In archaeological research collaborates the
Superintendence of the Sea of the Sicilian Region, the Fundación Náutica RPM and the Society for the Documentation of Submerged Sites (
SDSS). Fieldwork this summer sought to delineate the site to the north and east by using an autonomous underwater vehicle that mapped the seafloor with side-scan sonar and surveying targets with a remotely operated vehicle from the research vessel ‘Hercules’.
The study area extends over 270 km2 and the concentration of the main battle in 12 km2, so it took years to study and document it. «Together with the results of previous years, Discoveries made this summer further reveal what this ancient naval battle was like, which to date is by far the best documented from an archaeological point of view, ”said Valeria Li Vigni, director of the Soprintendenza del Mare, the government agency that oversees the underwater cultural heritage in Sicily.
The RPM Nautical Foundation highlights that the bronze battering rams and armor were the cutting-edge technological equipment of the time and provide information on the military capacity of Romans and Carthaginians in the mid-3rd century BC According to underwater archaeologist Peter Campbell, professor at Cranfield University (UK), “This season’s discoveries provide a rare glimpse into life and death during the 3rd century BC. C.». Furthermore, they “reflect the value of collaborative research when working in a challenging environment of great depth and a site of this enormous scale.”
The research will continue in 2022. James Goold, president of the RPM Nautical Foundation underlined that «after 16 years the site continues to expand“He added,” We can be sure that important aspects of the battle will be discovered in future seasons as the project continues. “
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