On Sunday, March 9 at 3 p.m. in Spiro 2, please join the Anthropology Department and the Archaeological Society of Staten Island for a lecture by Bridget Buxton of the University of Delaware, “In Search of the Age of the Titans: Recent Underwater Discoveries in Northern Israel.”
From the death of Alexander the Great to the fall of Cleopatra VII, the rise and fall of empires and the course of Mediterranean civilization was decided at the helms of gigantic warships, unrivalled in size and power by anything built in Europe until the modern age. This so-called ‘big ship’ phenomenon lasted more than three centuries, making it arguably the longest and most destructive technological arms race in European history. Contests between big-ship fleets were a critical factor in Rome’s conquest of the Mediterranean over the ruins of half a dozen other great naval powers: Carthage, Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleukid Syria, Antigonid Macedon, Mithridates, Rhodes, Pergamon, and finally even her own rival warlords. Remarkably, we know almost nothing about these Dreadnoughts of the Hellenistic age, and only slightly more about the land-based infrastructure built to either support them or protect against them.
This lecture presents recent archaeological explorations by the Maritime Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority in and around the ancient port of Akko (Acre-Ptolemais) that are bringing us closer to the elusive goal of capturing a ‘big ship,’ learning the long-lost secrets of their design and understanding the critical role they played in the Great Power contests of the Hellenistic Age.