The Construction and Preservation of the Egadi Island Warships - ongoing

Dr Peter Campbell

From 2005-2018, the Egadi Islands Survey Project has mapped the only ancient naval battle that has been discovered. Over the past 13 years, 19 warship rams have been discovered and 11 have been raised. The seafloor of western Sicily is not conducive to the preservation of large amounts of wooden timbers; however, small amounts of wood survive in most of the rams. Due to the relatively small amount of wood and the challenge of conserving composite materials, early conservation efforts worked to stabilize the bronze rams, with the wood being a secondary consideration. The wood was left inside the rams and recent inspection has found them to be in need of immediate intervention.

The aim of this project is to extract the wooden timbers from the Egadi rams, thoroughly document the timbers, and create a long-term preservation plan for their storage in a climate controlled environment. Significant information about ship construction can be learned from the timbers, so they will be professionally drawn, photographed, and 3D scanned. After documentation, the timbers will be assessed by a conservator who will produce a report and long-term preservation strategy.

This proposal is the final data collection step in the current Egadi project, after which the team will publish a series of articles and an edited volume. The Foundation has supported the project with 3D scanning, metal analysis, and wood analysis. The extraction and long-term preservation of the wooden timbers will complete the survey, excavation, conservation, and analysis.

Due to Honor Frost’s pioneering work in Sicily and the Foundation’s ongoing support of the project, the newly discovered Egadi 15 ram was named Honor F. The name will appear in publications and the museum exhibit following conservation.

Image copyright – Soprintendenza del Mare/RPM Nautical Foundation, photographer – John Beck. 

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