Abstract: The RAM3D Project

During the last 6 centuries BCE, naval power was determined by fleets of oared galleys armed with bronze rams at their prows.  From approx. 535 BCE onward, a war fleet’s main offensive tactic involved smashing one’s rams into the hulls of the enemy, thus causing their ships to fill with water and sink to the sea’s surface ... and sometimes, to the bottom.  Although our historical accounts present numerous battle descriptions, the modern reader often finds it difficult to visualize the action, a fact made more difficult by the paucity of archaeological remains from ancient warships.  This lecture will describe how new discoveries of warship rams from the last naval battle of the Punic War (fought off western Sicily’s Aegates Islands in 241 BCE) to the Battle of Actium (31 BCE) are about to change our perceptions of ancient naval warfare.  The lecture will also introduce the creation of a new web-based archive called RAM3D, which aims to utilize the power of 3D imaging technology to help researchers around the globe develop news ways to study ancient warships.  The ultimate goal is to gather 3D models for all warship rams as well as for large-scale sculpted images of rams or warships.  These models will enable nautical architects to design warship bows that can be utilized for crash tests and battle simulations—on computer.  Once we can stage computer assisted collisions (through a process called Finite Element Analysis), we can begin to answer questions like “How powerful were the ramming blows of a quinquereme (such as the Romans used in the First Punic War) when compared to a trireme (such as the Athenians used at Salamis)?”


Short bibliography on lecture topic:


Dig Deeper

Email the AIA Facebook Instagram YouTube Twitter
Subscribe to the AIA e-Update

Sign Up!