Metallography, Microanalysis & Corrosion of the Athlit Ram

Abstract

The Athlit ram, a bronze warship ram from a 2nd Century BCE Roman-era galley, was found in 1980 off the coast of Israel at Athlit, and is now displayed at the National Maritime Museum, Haifa, Israel. It meant to fit on the prow of a medium-sized oared warship. This ram is the only known surviving example of this ancient naval weapon. Inside the bronze ram some of the ship’s wood is still preserved. We have recently studied a piece of the ram removed during early conservation. Remnant metal, corrosion products, and mineralized and pseudomorphed wood have all been found and examined by light optical metallography, x-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, and microanalysis using energy dispersive x-ray mapping. The main corrosion product on the Athlit Ram is identified as covellite (CuS), and the entrained material is pseudomorphed cedar wood. Analysis indicates the lumen to be replaced by calcium carbonate and the cell walls to be replaced by covellite, consistent with the matrix.

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Correspondence to M. R. Notis.

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Notis, M.R., Hoban, M. & Wang, DN. Metallography, Microanalysis & Corrosion of the Athlit Ram. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1319, 502 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1557/opl.2011.737

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