The Athlit Ram
Nautical Archaeology
9 x 12, 112 pp.
53 b&w photos., 30 line drawings., Map.
Pub Date: 02/01/1991
Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series
  cloth
Price:        $75.00 s

978-0-89096-451-4

Published by Texas A&M University Press
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The Athlit Ram

Edited by Lionel Casson and J. Richard Steffy

In November, 1980, the eastern shallows of the Mediterranean near the village of Athlit, Israel, yielded a remarkable artifact of ancient military history: the bronze ram and connecting bow timbers of an oared warship. It was the first ram ever discovered and thus provided the first evidence for the warships hitherto known only through literary and iconographic references.

Recent archaeological studies have provided much information on merchant ships of antiquity, but the discovery of the Athlit ram now provides detailed evidence for the very different construction of warships. Experts on ancient naval construction and tactics, bronze casting methods and metallurgy, and classical symbols useful in determining the date and provenience of the ram have thoroughly studied every aspect of the ram and its timbers. Their research and conclusions are reported here in full.

Conclusions indicate that ancient shipwrights and armaments experts came up with an effective, if expensive, design for the ship's hull and ram. The strong hull of the ship was the actual weapon used against other ships; the half-ton bronze ram served as the warhead. A heavy ramming timber and side timbers gave the ship the necessary momentum for ramming. The blunt end of the three-finned ram would splinter and split an adversary's hull timbers and seams without bending, breaking off, or becoming stuck in the other hull.

Fully illustrated with detailed drawings, photographs, and radiographic images for a unique view of the ram, this volume is an invaluable record for anyone interested in classical art or military history and for those who specialize in the technology of ancient maritime construction and modern methods of investigation.

LIONEL CASSON has written extensively on ancient seafaring and is professor emeritus of classics at New York University.J. RICHARD STEFFY, an authority on ancient ship construction, is Sara W. and George O. Yamini Professor of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University.ELISHA LINDER is affiliated with the Center for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa, Israel.

What Readers Are Saying:

"It was only a passing mention, buried in the addenda of Lionel Casson's monumental Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World (1986), but it sent a wave of pride and excitement sweeping over me—a feeling no less than if I had discovered it myself. The first-ever bronze warship ram, completely intact. . . . for anyone fascinated by maritime archeology in general, and specifically by the Atlit ram, the book is worth every penny of its price and more."--David Brauner

"It was only a passing mention, buried in the addenda of Lionel Casson's monumental Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World (1986), but it sent a wave of pride and excitement sweeping over me—a feeling no less than if I had discovered it myself. The first-ever bronze warship ram, completely intact. . . . for anyone fascinated by maritime archeology in general, and specifically by the Atlit ram, the book is worth every penny of its price and more." --David Brauner

"Lionel Casson's chapter on the ram and naval tactics is superb." --Explorers Journal

"One can only compare [Steffy's text] to a masterly lesson in anatomy: [it] is marked by extreme detail in its analysis, perfect clarity in its descriptions, and with great prudence in its interpretations." --Mariner's Mirror

" . . . Steffy, the world's expert in ancient Mediterranean nautical architecture, . . . undertakes this study in a model of thorough description, analysis, and deductions about how Hellenistic shipwrights constructed the bow of a vessel whose primary purpose was to serve as an `oar-driven torpedo' . . . Steffy's chapter provides the first solid insights into ancient Mediterranean warship construction. . . The discovery of the Athlit Ram, as presented in this monograph, contributes a very great deal to our knowledge of the second category of ancient Mediterranean ships." --SAS Bulletin

"Steffy's brilliant analysis of the hull construction based on the limited wooden remains of the hull, clearly demonstrates that these warships, tipped with massive bronze rams, were indeed the guided missiles of their age. . . . This is a beautifully produced volume . . . " --Journal of Near Eastern Studies

"Rarely has an artifact received such meticulous study by such eminently qualified scholars as in this tome. This book is a valuable contribution that ranks among the best written in the field of ancient seafaring." --American Neptune

"Discovered in 1980, its relatively swift excavation, preservation, study, and now full publication are a credit to those involved with the project from the outset. . . . a beautifully produced volume . . . " --Journal of Near Eastern Studies

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