Head of a seated man, made from bark, rushes, red cloth, and vegetable fibers. Unknown Polynesian artist; early 19th century. From Easter Island (Rapa Nui); now in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Wikimedia Commons.
In 2004, underwater archaeologists began making an extraordinary discovery. Eleven warship rams, helmets and other debris were recovered from the seabed in exactly the area where historians speculated that the Battle of the Egadi Islands between Rome and Carthage had taken place.
The Carthaginians had the best navy in the Mediterranean, and the Romans were expert fighters on land but not at sea. But on 10 March 241 BC the Roman fleet successfully ambushed a convoy of Carthaginian ships near Sicily. Caught by surprise, 50 Carthaginian ships were sunk and 70 were captured while the Romans lost just 30. This unexpected victory changed history and won Sicily for Rome.
See three of the enormous recovered warship rams, used on that day, as well as a video re-enactment of the battle, in our Storms, War and Shipwrecks exhibition.
Creative Assembly, makers of the Total War games, created the realistic video re-enactment of the Battle of the Egadi Islands in the exhibition using the Total War game engine and art. Find out more about the battle, and see some of the re-enactment, in their short video below: