The
Nautical
Archaeology
Digital Library

Naval Ram Collection

Stephen DeCasien

Ph.D. Student – Nautical Archaeology – Texas A&M University
Communications – RPM Nautical Foundation

Introduction

In antiquity, the naval ram was a weapon that dominated Mediterranean naval warfare for nearly five hundred years. The use and devastating force of the ram is evidenced in the ancient sources, but the former weapon was not discovered by archaeologists until the 1980s. The first archaeologically attested ram was discovered off the coast of Atlit, Israel, warranting this artifact to be called the Athlit ram. The Athlit ram was the first ram to be studied by archaeologists and historians. The Athlit ram and its intact bow timbers revealed that the ram was an integral part of warship construction and a complex naval weapons system. The Athlit ram indicated that rams were casted in the indirect lost wax casting method and were typically casted to the highest standards in antiquity. A multitude of rams have been found since the recovery of the Athlit ram, predominantly on the seafloor with the exception of a unique discovery in a dentist’s office. Each subsequent ram discovery has helped scholars to gain deeper insights into naval warfare from the Classical to the early Roman Imperial periods.

The following is a recent comprehensive list of all the archaeologically attested naval rams from antiquity (for further information on each ram, see bibliography). There are currently 33 rams that exist in the archaeological record, many of which are authentic three-bladed waterline rams. Not all of these rams are provided in the list as some have yet to be recovered from the seafloor or given a proper designation and/or publication. Most of the rams listed have either been recovered or are continuing to be found at the battle site of the Egadi Islands near Western Sicily by RPM Nautical Foundation in cooperation with the Sicilian government and the Soprintendenza del Mare. The list comprises the Bremerhaven, Athlit, Piraeus, Acqualadroni, and Follonica rams; the Belgammel proembolion, a ‘subsidiary’ ram; and a myriad of other Egadi rams.

*Egadi Ram Images Courtesy of RPM Nautical Foundation.

Naval Rams

Ref.ImageDesignationFound (Location)ProvenienceDateDimensionsInscription Metal CompositionShip TypeCurrent Location
1BremerhavenBremerhaven Ram Unknown (“east of the African coast near Libya”) Unknown Unknown Max H: 62.6 cm
Max L: 66.9 cm
H of ramming head: 27.5 cm
W of ramming head: 26 cm
Driving center L: 43.5 cm
Weight: 53 kg
NoneBronze (with lead contents)"three"German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven, Germany
2AthlitAthlit Ram Alit, Israel Ptolemaic (Cyprus) 204 – 164 BCEMax H: 95 cm
Max L: 226 cm
H of ramming head: 41.1 cm
W of ramming head: 44.2 cm
Driving center L: 168 cm
Weight: 465 kg
NoneBronze (90.4% copper and 9.78% tin)"four" or "five"National Maritime Museum in Haifa, Israel
3PiraeusPiraeus Ram Piraeus, GreeceUnknown (Athenian?)400 – 300 BCEMax H: n/a cm
Max L: 74 cm
H of ramming head: 35 cm
W of ramming head: 36 cm (est.)
Driving center L: 59 cm
Weight: 80 kg (est.)
NoneBronze "three"Piraeus Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece
4AcqualadroniAcqualadroni Ram Capo Rasocolmo, Italy Roman 203 – 50 BCEMax H: 90 cm
Max L: 135 cm
H of ramming head: n/a cm
W of ramming head: n/a cm
Driving center L: 59 cm
Weight: 200 kg
NoneBronze"four"Regional Museum of Messina in Messina, Italy
5BelgammelBelgammel proembolionTobruk, LibyaUnknown (Roman?)300 BCE – 100 ACEMax H: 44.1 cm
Max L: 64 cm
H of ramming head: 13.1 cm
W of ramming head: 12.6 cm
Driving center L: 64 cm
Weight: 19.7 kg
NoneBronze (87% copper, 7% tin, 6% lead, and .01% zinc)Unknown (tesseraria?)Museum of Libya in Tripoli, Libya
6FollonicaFollonica Ram The Museum of the Ship in Pisa, Italy
7Egadi 1Egadi 1 Ram Sicily, Italy Roman 255 -241 BCE
(likely built in 242 BCE)
Max H: 81.5 cm
Max L: 84.0 cm
H of ramming head: 22.2 cm
W of ramming head: 40.5 cm
Driving center L: 58.6 cm
Weight: 167.8 kg
Latin
(see Prag 2014).
Bronze (50.26% copper, 9.49% tin, and 35.25% lead)."three"
8Egadi 2Egadi 2 Ram Sicily, Italy Roman or Carthaginian 255 -241 BCEMax H: n/a
Max L: 76.5 cm
H of ramming head: 19.9 cm
W of ramming head: 31.1 cm
Driving center L: 66.3 cm
Weight: 75.8 kg
Lost
(see Prag 2014).
Bronze (53.09 % copper, 6.72% tin, and 35.80% lead)."three"
9Egadi3mediaEgadi 3 Ram Sicily, Italy Carthaginian 255 -241 BCEMax H: 73 cm
Max L: 85 cm
H of ramming head: 21.5cm
W of ramming head: 37.4 cm
Driving center L: 74.4 cm
Weight: 184.5 kg
Punic
(see Garbini in Royal and Tusa 2019).
Bronze (67.25% copper, 6.18% tin, and 23.81% lead)."three"
10Egadi 4Egadi 4 Ram Sicily, Italy Roman 255 -241 BCE
(likely built in 250 BCE)
Max H: 65.6 cm
Max L: 93.5 cm
H of ramming head: 21.8 cm
W of ramming head: 35.6 cm
Driving center L: 83.4 cm
Weight: 130.5 kg
Latin
(see Prag 2014).
Bronze (46.69% copper, 6.68% tin, and 44.00% lead)."three"
11Egadi 5Egadi 5 Ram Sicily, Italy Roman or Carthaginian 255 -241 BCEMax H: n/a
Max L: 64.0 cm
H of ramming head: 21.5 cm
W of ramming head: 32.2 cm
Driving center L: 59.5 cm
Weight: 57.4 kg
Lost
(see Prag 2014).
Bronze (66.91% copper, 7.67% tin, and 21.81% lead)."three"
12Egadi 6Egadi 6 Ram Sicily, Italy Roman 255 -241 BCE
(likely built in 250 BCE)
Max H: 67.1 cm
Max L: 100.9 cm
H of ramming head: 24.0 cm
W of ramming head: 40.6 cm
Driving center L: 85.9 cm
Weight: 154.0 kg
Latin
(see Prag 2014).
Bronze (52.62% copper, 10.66% tin, and 33.79% lead)."three"
13Egadi 7 8Egadi 7 Ram Sicily, Italy Roman 255 -241 BCE
(likely built in 255 BCE)
Max H: 70.5 cm
Max L: 74.0 cm
H of ramming head: 24.0 cm
W of ramming head: 38.3 cm
Driving center L: 68.4 cm
Weight: 164.1 kg
Latin
(see Prag 2014).
Bronze (59.79% copper, 5.93% tin, and 32.78% lead)."three"
14Egadi8cEgadi 8 Ram Sicily, Italy Roman 255 -241 BCE
(likely built in 255 BCE)
Max H: 70.8 cm
Max L: 86.1 cm
H of ramming head: 25.9 cm
W of ramming head: 39.6 cm
Driving center L: 71.0 cm
Weight: 141.4 kg
Latin
(see Prag 2014).
Bronze (58.14% copper, 9.53% tin, and 30.20% lead)."three"
15Egadi 9Egadi 9 Ram Sicily, Italy Roman 255 -241 BCE
(likely built in 255 BCE)
n/aLatin
(see Prag 2014).
Bronze"three"
16Egadi 10Egadi 10 Ram Sicily, Italy Roman 255 -241 BCE
(likely built in 255 BCE)
Max H: 70.5 cm
Max L: 83.7 cm
H of ramming head: 25.2 cm
W of ramming head: 39.4 cm
Driving center L: 71.8 cm
Weight: 162.5 kg
Latin
(see Prag 2014).
Bronze"three"
17Egadi 11Egadi 11 RamSicily, Italy Roman 255 -241 BCE
(likely built in 250 BCE)
Max H: 63.3 cm
Max L: 83.8 cm
H of ramming head: 22.1 cm
W of ramming head: 40.1 cm
Driving center L: 75.8 cm
Weight: 161.0 kg
Latin
(see Prag in Royal and Tusa 2019).
Bronze"three"
18Egadi 12 RamSicily, Italy
19Egadi 13 RamSicily, Italy
20Egadi 14 RamSicily, Italy
21Egadi 15 RamSicily, Italy
22Egadi 16 RamSicily, Italy
23Egadi 17 RamSicily, Italy
24Egadi 18 RamSicily, Italy
25Egadi 19 RamSicily, Italy
26Egadi 20 RamSicily, Italy
27Egadi 21 RamSicily, Italy
28Egadi 22 RamSicily, Italy
29Egadi 23 RamSicily, Italy
30
31
32
33

Bibliography

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Bockius, R. “Der “Bremerhaven-Rammsporn”. Ein exzeptionelles Relikt antiker Seekriegsführung im Museum für Antike Schiffahrt Mainz und seine Parallelen.” Jahrb. RGZM 61 (2014), 57-101.

Buccellato, C. and Tusa, S. “The Acqualadroni Ram Recovered Near the Strait of Messina, Sicily: dimensions, timbers, iconography and historical context.” International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 42 (2013): 76-86.

Casson, L. and J. Steffy. The Athlit Ram. College Station: Texas A&M U. P., 1991.

Casson, L. Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World. Princeton: Princeton U. P., 1971.

Mark, S. “The earliest naval ram.” International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 37 (2008): 253-272.

Morrison, J. The Age of the Galley. London: Conway Maritime, 2004.

Morrison, J., and R. Williams. Greek Oared Ships 900–322 BC. Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 1968.

Morrison, J., J. Coates, and N. Rankov. The Athenian Trireme. Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 2000.

Murray, W. The Age of Titans. Oxford: Oxford U. P., 2012.

Murray, W., and P. Petsas. “Octavian’s campsite memorial for the Actian War.” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 79 (1989): 1-172.

Murray. W. “The weight of trireme rams and the price of bronze in fourth century Athens.” Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies 26 (1985): 141-150.

Murray. W., et al. “Cutwaters before rams: an experimental investigation not the origins and development of the waterline ram.” International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 46 (2016): 72-82.

Oron, A. “The Athlit Ram bronze casting reconsidered: scientific and technical reexamination.” Journal of Archaeology Science 33 (2006): 63-76.

Oron, A. “The Athlit Ram: Classical and Hellenistic Bronze Casting Technology.” M.A. Thesis, Texas A&M University, 2001.

Prag, J. “Bronze rostra from the Egadi Islands off NW Sicily: The Latin inscriptions.” Journal of Roman Archaeology, 27 (2014): 33-59.

Pridemore, M. “The form, function, and interrelationships of naval rams: a study of naval rams from antiquity.” M.A. Thesis, Texas A&M university, 1996.

Royal, J., and S. Tusa, eds. The Site of the Battle of the Aegates Islands at the end of the First Punic War. L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2019.

Steffy, J. Wooden Ship Building and the Interpretation of Shipwrecks. College Station: Texas A&M U. P., 2006.  

Tusa, S., and J. Royal. “The landscape of the naval battle at the Egadi Islands (241 B.C.).” Journal of Roman Archaeology 25 (2012): 7-48.