Underwater archaeologists are currently in the process of retrieving artifacts which were lost in a battle that was fought between Rome and Carthage 2,200 years ago on March 10, 241 B.C., and with the recovery of these artifacts, archaeologists and historians are learning more about how this ancient battle may have once been fought.
As Live Science reports, archaeologists believe that Carthage warriors may have taken captured Roman warships and then reused these themselves, with Carthaginian sailors desperately tossing as much cargo as they could overboard to lighten the load and help them to escape from the Romans more quickly.
The battle that was fought between Rome and Carthage in 241 B.C. took place very close to the Aegates Islands, which is located in the Mediterranean Sea near Sicily. In this battle, Rome emerged victorious after its navy captured a Carthaginian fleet that was attempting to bring desperately needed supplies to its armies that were in Sicily at the time.
After the Roman military destroyed a large number of the Carthaginian fleet, Carthage finally admitted defeat and a truce was declared between Carthage and Rome, with Rome the very large winner in regard to the truce’s terms.
Underwater archaeologists have spent close to a decade now investigating this battle and have so far retrieved pottery containers, bronze rams, and metal helmets, with last year’s excavations alone yielding six new rams.
The Roman ships that Carthage used in this battle are believed to have been taken from previous battles that were fought between the two warring factions, with one of these recent battles allowing Carthage to take a total of 93 Roman ships. William Murray, a professor of Greek history at the University of South Florida, noted that excavations of this 241 B.C. battle yielded a large number of these Roman vessels.
“Of the 19 securely known rams from this area, I believe 11 of them are securely identified as Roman rams. You would expect that the Carthaginians, who lost the battle, would have suffered the most casualties.”
Archaeologists have also discovered a large number of Montefortino-type helmets which has surprised them, with Murray noting that you would normally “expect that most of the warship rams would belong to Carthaginian-manned warships.”
However, it may have been that Carthaginians decided to hire individuals from Iberia and Gaul as crew for many of the Carthaginian ships, and mercenaries in these areas were known for occasionally donning these Montefortino helmets.
Murray and the underwater archaeological team who have been excavating the battle that was fought between Rome and Carthage reported their recent discoveries at the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society for Classical Studies at their annual meeting which was held in San Diego at the beginning of January.