Greco-Roman warship reveals its secrets

Greco-Roman warship reveals its secrets

The analysis of a bronze ram, belonging to a warship about 2,000 years old, shows how an object has been made in the past.

The object weighs about 20 kg and was discovered in 1964 by a group of British divers off the Libyan coast, near Tobruk. Baptized with the name of Belgammel Ram, corresponds to a small Greek or Roman warship, ships that were equipped with large bronze rams used to ram the side beams of enemy ships.

At 65 centimeters long, the Belgammel RAMit was one of the smallest so it would have been located on the upper level of the bow. A second ram is known as a proembolion that strengthened the ship and served to break the oars of an enemy ship.

Dr. Nic Flemming, leader of marine archeology, coordinated a group of specialists from five institutes with the aim of analyzing the artifact in May 2010, before it was returned to the National Museum in Tripoli. Both the mixture of metals and their alloys have been analyzed, studying their internal structure in order to obtain conclusions about their elaboration.

Through the analysis of burnt wood which was in the Ram Belgammel the object has been dated to 100 BC. and 100 A.D., date that coincides with decorative style of the tridents and the bird motif on the top of the piston, details discovered by studying scanners. The X-ray equipment has reproduced, through 15 cm of solid bronze, a 3D image of the internal structure of the ram.

Many other geochemical analyzes They were carried out by Professor Ian Croudace, Dr. Rex Taylor and Dr. Richard Pearce at the University of Southampton. The samples indicate that the composition of the bronze was 87% copper, 6% tin and 7% lead, the amounts varying throughout the piece. An SEM study reveals that lead does not dissolve with the other metals, but does separate into segregated droplets due to cooling of the metal. Thicker parts cool more slowly than thinner parts, so the crystalline structure and bubbles trapped in the metal vary depending on their location.

Thanks to lead isotopes You can find the origin of the metal, which in most cases has belonged to the Mediterranean area, locating it now with greater accuracy due to advances. The results show that it may have come from a district of Attica, in Greece, called Lavrion.

To the compare photos taken at different moments in time, no change is seen in the structure, which indicates that the object does not suffer from the “Bronze disease”, A corrosion process that destroys artifacts of this material.

The goal of all studies has been to understand how this piece used in naval warfare it has managed to survive 2000 years under the waters of the sea.

I was born in Madrid on August 27, 1988 and since then I started a work of which there is no example. Fascinated by both numbers and letters and a lover of the unknown, that is why I am a future graduate in Economics and Journalism, interested in understanding life and the forces that have shaped it. Everything is easier, more useful and more exciting if, with a look at our past, we can improve our future and for that… History.


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