Archaeologists excavating a 2,300 year old ship, located in the “Bay of Pirates,” are hoping to shed light on naval war tactics during the Punic Wars (the wars between Rome and Carthage). The Romans, who detested the water, are reported to have built their ships with a rostrum, a type of ‘beak’ that was used to ram the enemy.
Carbon dating has placed the sinking of the ship at approximately 260 BCE, during the first Punic War. They shave published their findings in this month’s Analytical Chemistry. If you do not have a subscription to the journal, read the summary at Science Daily.
Few stories and great clashes are as deeply meaningful and powerful than the nearly century long conflict between Rome and Carthage; we call these conflicts the Punic Wars. Ultimately, Rome would emerge victorious – after great cost of life, land, and statesmen (at the famous Battle of Cannae in 216 BCE, Rome lost both its consuls and over 80,000 men in a single day at the hands of the infamous General Hannibal Barca).
When one studies the wars, looking at it from the beginning, the outcome was not set. In fact, I would have put my money on Carthage. So how did Rome turn the tide and emerge not only victorious, but dominating. In fact, in 146 BCE not only does Rome definitely defeat its mortal enemy (dismantling the city and killing or enslaving the survivors), but it is the same year that Rome defeats the Greeks in Corinth and absorbs that region into their expanding Empire. It was the beginning of the true might that was Rome.
This month’s Archaeology Magazine highlights several new finds off the Western Coast of Sicily, likely related to the Battle of Aegates Islands (a conflict during the first Punic War). They believe that the weapons and ships constructions that they have uncovered will provide greater insight into how Rome ultimately came to dominate the Mediterranean. To read more about this, see the article in Archaeology Magazine.