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October 14, 2008

Roman Marine Patrols

As I have previously written on this blog, the Maritime Museum in Mainz houses a collection of reconstructed Roman ships, two full-size replicas of two fast patrol craft forming the centre-piece. The picture below is of the weapon mounted in the bow of the larger one, a sort of automatic bolt firing ballista, the sort of thing that would spoil any invader's day. The iron tipped "bolts" were fed in from above, each descending in turn as the operators cranked the mechanism. As the drawstring reached its full draw, a trip mechanism allowed an bolt to fall into the firing groove and the action then tripped a release allowing the bolt to be discharged and the cycle started again.

The Roman version of a machine gun, mounted on a fast patrol boat in the Maritime Museum in Mainz.

These fast patrol boats were stationed at intervals along the Rhine and swept back and forth making sure the "barbarians" to the North didn't cross. All this came to nought in 407 AD when the Rhine froze during a severe winter and an estimated 100,000 barbarians swept into the Empire. Famine and destruction followed and the Empire began to crumble rapidly. By 410 AD Alaric, King of the Visigoths, reached Rome itself and sacked it.

Sometimes technology alone is not enough.

Posted by The Gray Monk at October 14, 2008 08:42 PM

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Now that's something I want to see!

Posted by: Da Goddess at October 16, 2008 08:52 AM