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Rams were thought to be one of the main weapons of war galleys after c.700 BC, and the Athlit ram's construction implies advanced technology that was developed over a long period of time.The shell was cast as a single piece to perfectly fit the timbers it protects.The casting of an object as large as the Athlit ram was a complicated operation at the time, and would have been a considerable expense in the construction of a war galley.The ram comprises three sections – the driving centre, the bottom plate, and the cowl.

It was observed that the guns placed on the Taureau were there "with the sole function of preparing the way for the ram." The frequent use of ramming as a tactic in the Battle of Lissa (1866) and, to a lesser extent, at the Battle of Iquique also led to many late 19th-century naval designers equipping their warships with ram bows.The wales and the ramming timber are designed to interlock for extra strength.The bottom of the ram features a mortise cut into the ramming timber to fit the most forward end of the keel which was formed into a 4-centimetre (1.6 in) thick and 10-centimetre (3.9 in) long tenon.Naval warfare in the Mediterranean rarely used sails, and the use of rams specifically required oarsmen over sails in order to maneuver with accuracy and speed, and particularly to reverse the movement of a ramming ship to disentangle it from its sinking victim, lest it be pulled down when its victim sank.The Athenians were especially known for their diekplus and periplus tactics that disabled enemy ships with speed and ramming techniques.

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The first coastal battleship, France's Taureau, was built in 1863, for the purpose of attacking warships at anchor or in narrow straits, and was armed with a ram.