In this episode PhD student takes us into a fascinating and obscure topic relating to ancient history, maritime history and military history, and that is the development and use of the battery ram in ancient naval warfare with a focus on the Greeks and Romans.
From discussing their origin and apparent unsuccessful proto rams we watch as craftsmen and experts perfect their work over time through trial and error to create a piece that would come to play a crucial war in warfare on the ancient seas.
He explores what sources we have from ancient historians and what do they have to say.
He then approaches the history of naval rams in general categorizing them by period and giving an awesome overview on the subject.
We also explore tactics and how they were used along with what we know about how they were crafted, how they were put on the ship and lastly we approach the end of the naval ram in Mediterranean and Aegean warfare as it becomes more of a sign of power and symbolism rather than a tool of war.
Before leaving off he talks about an upcoming project where he and his colleagues will be setting out to build a naval ram to better understand the process and how the ancients built them.
Stephen DeCasien is a PhD student at Texas A&M University studying Nautical Archaeology. His academic interests are Greco-Roman maritime history and archaeology with a special focus on naval warfare, naval rams, and warships. He specializes in the study of sex and gender in antiquity, especially in relation to navies and naval monuments.
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Short Bibliography recommended by DeCasien:
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.
Oron, A. “The Athlit Ram bronze casting reconsidered: a scientific and technical reexamination.” Journal of Archaeology Science 33 (2006): 63-76.
Pitassi, M. The Roman Navy: Ships, Men and Warfare 350 BC-AD 475. Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2012.
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.
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