Sunday, February 17, 2019

Archaeology of the Battle of the Aegates

PUNIC WATCH: Underwater Archaeologists Find Surprising Artifacts from Major Roman Naval Battle (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
Archaeologists exploring the site of a naval battle fought 2,200 years ago between Rome and Carthage have uncovered clues to how the battle may have unfolded — as well as several mysteries.

The finds suggest that Carthage reused captured Roman warships during the battle and that Carthaginian sailors may have thrown cargo overboard in a desperate attempt to help their ships escape the Romans.

According to historical records, the naval battle occurred on March 10, 241 B.C., near the Aegates Islands, not far from Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. ...
The new finds fit well with what we hear from Polybius. He says that in a previous naval engagement at Drepana the Carthaginians had captured many Roman ships (1.51). And the Roman fleet took the Carthaginians by surprise at the Battle of the Aegates. The Carthaginians ships were deployed hastily and overloaded, while the Roman fleet was streamlined and well prepared (1.60-61). Both naval engagements took place during the First Punic War.

It's always exciting when archaeology connects up in a coherent way with ancient literary accounts of an event.

Every so often I like to mention again why "Punic Watch" is a feature of PaleoJudaica.

Cross-file under Maritime (Marine) Archaeology, on which see also the posts collected here and here.

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