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Battle of the Aegates – archaeologists find more artifacts from the First Punic War

Published: September 4, 2023 - 16:43
Updated: September 4, 2023 - 16:43
Battle of the Aegates – archaeologists find more artifacts from the First Punic War

Soprintendenza del Mare has reported that at the site of an ancient naval Battle of the Aegates, marine archaeologists have found further artefacts.

Ancient ship ram from the Battle of the Aegates
Ancient ship ram, Photo: Soprintendenza del Mare

New artefacts

Last excavations off the coast of the island of Levanzo have revealed new ancient artefacts that are the remains of a naval Battle of the Aegates. Among the artefacts discovered at a depth of around 80 metres are two ship rams, hundred bronze coins, seven rare silver coins (for the first time in the more than 20 years of research activity), a sword, fifteen helmets of the Montefortino type and twenty cheekpieces that supose to protect soliders faces.

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All the artefacts have been transported to the laboratory set up at the former Florio di Favignana facility, where they are in the hands of the archaeologists of the Maritime Superintendency.

ancient helmet
Helmet of the Montefortino type, Photo: Soprintendenza del Mare


The items were brought to the surface with the help of the ship R/V Hercules, which belongs to the RPM Nautical Foundation. The American foundation has been supporting Italian archaeologists for years and has contributed to the recovery from the seabed of many artefacts related to the Battle of the Aegates.

The seabed near the Egadi Islands has once again confirmed itself as a veritable treasure trove of information, essential for understanding the naval battle of the Aegates between the Romans and the Carthaginians. The discovery made by Sebastiano Tusa provides more and more important evidence, confirming the intuition of the archaeologist who died prematurely in 2019– said Francesco Paolo Scarpinato regional councillor for cultural heritage.

Excavation results so far

Since the excavation work began more than two decades ago, researchers have already recovered a total number of 26 ship rams. This highly effective weapon was mounted on the bow of warships and, used properly, wreaked real havoc. At the same time, archaeologists also found thirty Montefortino-type helmets belonging to Roman soldiers, two swords, coins and a significant number of amphorae.

All activities at the archaeological site were carried out by Superintendency of the Sea of the Sicilian Region in collaboration with the RPM Nautical Foundation and the deep sea divers of the Society for Documentation of Submerged Sites (SDSS).

In 2021 in the same place where the Romans and Carthaginians fought a battle, archaeologists found an unusually large wreck of a merchant ship. The vessel was carrying amphorae produced in Lusitania (present-day Portugal) and Baetica (Spain), dating to the first half of the 4th century AD.

Archaeologists on the research vessel
Researchers working on board the RV Hercules, Photo: Soprintendenza del Mare

Battle of the Aegates

Battle of the Aegates was a naval clash between ancient Rome and Carthage fought as part of the First Punic War (264–241 BC), which took place in 241 BC. The battle ended in victory for the Romans, who sank fifty ships of the Carthaginian fleet and captured another seventy. The Romans had much greater mobility. All because their ships carried only the most necessary items. The Carthaginians, on the other hand, were burdened with the equipment necessary for the long journey and provisions for the Sicilian garrisons.

By doing so, the Romans prevented the Carthaginian army from resupplying in Sicily and battle of the Aegates directly affected the outcome of the entire war. As a result of an agreement made in the same year, Carthage relinquished Sicily.

Soprintendenza del Mare

The Soprintendenza del Mare (Supervision of the Cultural and Environmental Heritage of the Sea), is the body of the Sicilian Region dedicated to the protection of cultural and environmental assets found in the sea and underwater archaeological resources.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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