hundreds of ships caught in the naval battles of the most spectacular in history. Off the coast of Marsala, on the west coast of Sicily, the islands Égates have been witnesses there are more than 2000 years of the confrontation, of which there remained a trace, a few years ago even, that in the books. The small chain of islands, however, was the scene of a decisive victory of Rome over Carthage and put an end to the First punic War in 241 bce. And the seabed speak finally: the 22 July, with a sword 70 cm long and five cm wide, belonging to one of the two armies was raised by archaeologists.

The sword of 70-centimetre long and five centimeters wide found Monday 22 July. RPM Nautical Foundation/Soprintendenza del Mare of Sicily.

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March 241. For the past 23 years, Rome and Carthage fought for control of the Mediterranean and especially Sicily, where the Punic is conducting raids to destabilize the cities. To assert his authority, the Republic, which has seen the vast majority of its fleet casting in the disaster of the battle of Drepanum, ordered the formation of a new armada of vessels. It is up to the consul Caius Lutatus Catulus that comes the daunting task of ordering these vessels. Its next to Carthage, having got wind of the ambitions of the roman, is launching its own fleet of 250 ships, without necessarily having enough men for all the maneuver correctly. They respond to the orders of the general Hanno the Great.

The shock took place on the west coast of Sicily, near the islands Epades. The Romans, well-informed, prepare an ambush, despite unfavorable winds and a raging sea. In order to lighten the vessels and make them more navigable, they take away the masts, sails, and everything that was useless to fight and intercept the fleet of Hammon. The high mobility of the roman ships and the experience of the sailors, the romans allow the consul to win a large victory. It is estimated that about 50 boats carthaginians are cast, 70 prisoners and about 10,000 men made prisoners. At the end of this clash, Rome took complete control of Sicily, and caused the collapse of the regime, an oligarchy of Carthage.

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excavations trample

in recent years the foundation RPMNF, a non-profit organization in charge of research and education in archaeology, is interested in the Islands Égates which have been the theatre of this gigantic battle. Why this area was chosen? The location was initially based on ancient Greek writings that reported the confrontation. But the confirmation of the exact place of the confrontation came only in 2003 via the seizure by Italian police of a part of one of the vessels of war found by a fisherman who wanted to sell illegally. With the support of the Institute of archaeology, boating, the excavations were able to be launched in 2005.

A snout, kind of a ram that was the prow of ships of war to sink the enemy ships. RPM Nautical Foundation/Soprintendenza del Mare of Sicily. A helmet that archaeologists believe themselves to be one of the generals presence. RPM Nautical Foundation/Soprintendenza del Mare of Sicily.

in Spite of the many detection tools are extremely powerful, no substantive progress could be made during the first three years of the fact of the vastness of the area to cover, as big as Manhattan, ” says James Goold, president of the foundation in Figaro. large portions of bedrock that prevented the tools to be really effective, have not made things easier. Only amphorae, italo-Greek, have been recovered.

It was in 2008 that a significant advance has taken place. The discovery of a rostrum, the ram of an ancient warship, has greatly reassured the team. Two years later, the contours of the first large group of remnants of the battle were able to be traced. A new that has enabled RPM to definitively confirm the presence of a fight at this location. Five rostrums have been discovered as well as helmets of bronze. The draft of several mounds scattered amphorae that could have contained provisions on board ships of war allowed to the members of the team to have a pattern more clear of the confrontation.

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rams picked off the islands Égates. RPM Nautical Foundation/Soprintendenza del Mare of Sicily. A year that catches up to fourteen years of research frustrating

Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars that are spent to finance the excavations, says James Goold, who points out that the recent discoveries allow us to secure the financing of future campaigns. The discovery of a dozen new rams and many amphorae during the season 2017-2018 was therefore a relief for the team. They were able to bring the certainty that the battle zone extended to the south-east of the search area that represents the northern flank of the armada carthaginian.

In 2017, a new partner in the game: Explorer sub-marine world. This group has been the contribution of experienced divers to accurately manipulate delicate objects present at the bottom of the sea. At present the research continues more intensely thanks to this new aid. According to an estimate from the team, a hundred ships of war were sunk in the area. For the time being only nineteen of them have been localized. All the archaeological discoveries after studies and restorations are exhibited at the museum of the island of Favignana.

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