The fabulous exhibition at the Ashmolean - Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Treasures from the Sicilian Seas - has revealed some little-known secrets of the battles for supremacy in the southern Mediterranean during the Roman rise to ascendancy.
Battles between Carthage and Rome were especially savage - and the Sicilian coast was on the front line.
The exhibition displays the astonishing cast-metal rams bolted onto the front of warships, making for devastating weaponry, as well as detailing the superior Roman tactics at sea.
Intriguing finds show just how precarious was life at sea - but also how far it was the bread and butter of ancient Mediterranean empires.
Finds from the seabed include flagons, pottery and coins. Intriguingly, it seems the Emperor Justinian, keen to win Rome back for the newly-established Eastern Empire, and an enthusiastic Christian, shipped the equivalent of 'flat-pack' churches to newly-forming Christian communities.