The current study aims to conduct further analysis of the Athlit ram – an intact early 2nd century BC naval ram and the largest of its kind ever found – and its timbers at the National Maritime Museum in Haifa.
The study is motivated by the dramatic increase in the corpus of extent naval rams in recent years and the advance in analytical and imaging techniques since the completion of previous studies on the ram. These studies showed that the ram was manufactured by the lost wax technique (Oron 2006) and not by the sand casting method as previously proposed (Eisenberg 1991). The former method was adjusted in order to facilitate a close fit between the cast ram and the bow timbers it was to be placed over. It was also noticed that the ram casting had been extensively repaired. Examination and analysis of some of these repairs (Oron 2006: 67, table 2) showed that they carried the hallmark of Classical and Hellenistic bronze craftsmanship closely linked with the use of the lost wax casting technique for the manufacture of small and large bronzes.
The new research campaign described here is designed to provide further information on the geographical origin of the ram, the nature and chronology of its repairs and the spatial interrelations between the bronze cast and the bow timbers. To achieve these goals, it is planned to bring together collaboratively experts from related disciplines. Their combined expertise will allow the integration of high resolution imaging techniques, not available during previous studies of the ram, with further elemental and metallurgical analyses and lead isotope studies that were not applied to the ram before.