Ancient Rome: Shipwrecks
Ancient Ship discoveries, maritime and nautical archaeology
Nautical Pompeii Found in Pisa
Pisa is famous for its leaning tower, but archeologists there are now uncovering an amazing fleet of ancient ships, some complete with crew and cargo. The San Rossore train station on the edge of Pisa, Italy, is a lonely stop. Tourists who visit this city to see its famous leaning tower generally use the central station across town. But San Rossore is about to be recognized as one of the country's most significant archeological digs. For nearly a decade archeologists have been working near and under the tracks to unearth what is nothing short of a maritime Pompeii. So far the excavation has turned up 39 ancient shipwrecks buried under nine centuries of silt, which preserved extraordinary artifacts. The copper nails and ancient wood are still intact, and in many cases cargo is still sealed in the original terra cotta amphorae, the jars used for shipment in the ancient world. They have also found a cask of the ancient Roman fish condiment known as garum and many mariners' skeletons"”one crushed under the weight of a capsized ship. One ship carried scores of pork shoulder hams; another carried a live lion, likely en route from Africa to the gladiator fights in Rome.
ROMAN SHIPWRECKS FROM THE WINE-DARK SEA
The John C. Rouman Lecture Series in Classical and Hellenic Cultures. The development in the last ten years of the new robotic technology to explore the sea floor at depths of up to 6000 m. has revolutionized underwater archaeology . While over three-fifths of planet earth is covered with water, over 95% of the oceans still remain unexplored. But now with the new robotic technology developed in the past ten years, archaeologists can explore at depths where man previously was unable to go.
The Comacchio Wreck
The Roman ship of Comacchio was discovered on the city outskirts near the initial section of the Water Collection Canal, the principal drainage channel of the Valle Ponti basin which was reclaimed between 1919 and 1922... The first clues of the vessel's presence were revealed in the fall of 1980 (signalled by the Comacchio Archaeological Group) when, during dredging operations in the canal, several timber fragments -- later identified as belonging to a vessel -- came to the surface. The entire upper portion of the wreck was brought to light and the cargo recovered during an extensive excavation season in the summer of 1981. Subsequently, the vessel was submerged beneath the watertable in order to preserve the timber pieces.
The Marsala Punic Warship
An exceptional wreck means far more than the sum of its wooden parts; many features of this well preserved after-end of a cargo-less vessel are unique and heavy with implication. Phoenicio-Punic writing is one of them: when first excavated the black calligraphy showed clearly on pine-wood planking that was still yellow, just as the "dunnage" (or leafy branches laid to protect bottoms from ballast) was still green. Both soon faded on exposure to the light and oxygen in the water, but not before focusing attention on the wreck's chemical environment and - for reasons of "nationality" - on its geographic background. The place where a seagoing ship sank is usually of minor interest because, unlike river craft, ancient seagoing vessels usually carry no clue to where and by whom they were built, or to how many owners they may have had before sinking. This makes it impossible to assign any particular design of hull to any particular Mediterranean region, so leaving a serious gap in our knowledge of ship architecture.
The Porticello Wreck
A 5th Century B.C. Merchantman in Italy. Like the Byzantine ship at Yassi Ada (INA Newsletter Vol. 1, No.2) the Porticello shipwreck was excavated by INA staff members while still working for the University Museum. The wreck, located on the Italian side of the Straits of Messina, near the village of Porticello, was discovered by a local Italian fisherman and heavily plundered by him and diving associates in the Fall of 1969. Because of a dispute among the looters, the wreck's existence was brought to the attention of the local antiquities authorities. Dott. Giuseppe Foti, superintendent of antiquities in Calabria, Italy, sought the aid of Franco Colosimo, a Sicilian diver who had assisted in the excavation of other ancient wrecks in Italian waters, and a group of specially trained divers of the Italian state police. They mapped the site and recovered remains still visible on the seabed.
Two Bronze Etruscan Helmets from a Roman Wreck
Two Bronze Helmets of Etruscan Typology from a Roman Wreck,
from a Roman Wreck Found at the Les Sorres Anchorage (GavĂ -Viladecans, Catalonia). Under Franco's regime, a great number of Catalan archaeological sites were partially or totally spoliated and/or destroyed, the public powers being absolutely unconcerned about this fact. A paradigmatic example of this situation is the Les Sorres anchorage, a vast site a few kilometres south of Barcelona, under the river Llobregat delta.
Wrecks of Sardinia Mal di Ventre
The Roman vessel of Isola Mal di Ventre ("the thousand ingots wreck") 50-70 B.C. The Ship of Mal di Ventre was a large Roman trade vessel, about 36m long, carrying from Spain an extraordinary cargo of 33 tons of lead ingots (right), engraved with the name of the producer.
Wrecks Sardinia Arbatax
The Roman vessel of Arbatax I Century B.C. The Ship of Arbatax was a Roman trade vessel sunk near Capo Bellavista (Arbatax) during the second half of the first Century B.C.
Wrecks Sardinia Capo Testa
The Roman vessel of Capo Testa I Century B.C. The Ship of Capo Testa was a Roman trade vessel, about 20m long, carrying a cargo of iron and lead ingots (left): she sank near Capo Testa (East of Bocche di Bonifacio) during the first Century B.C.
Wrecks Sardinia of Costa Rey
The Roman vessels of Costa Rey I Century B.C. Two ancient ships have been discovered on the seabottom off Costa Rey: they are both Roman trade vessels, sunk near Punta Santa Giusta (Costa Rey) in different occasions during the first Century B.C.
Wrecks Sardinia Spargi
The Roman vessel of Spargi Island II Century B.C. The famous Ship of Spargi was a Roman trade vessel sunk near the Secca Corsara off Spargi Island, probably between 120 and 100 B.C. She carried a cargo of olive oil, of wine in Dressel 1 amphorae (below) and a large amount of Campanian pottery... Some small bronze statuettes (right) have been stolen by abusive antiquities hunters.
Yassiada 7th C. Shipwreck Excavation
During the summers of 1961-64, an expedition of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of George F. Bass excavated the wreck of a 7th-century Byzantine ship that had struck a reef just off the small coastal island of Yassi Ada located between the Turkish mainland and the Greek island of Kos. The wreck lay at an ideal working depth of 32 to 39 m on a moderately steep but fairly even slope and appeared to be well preserved. Then visible was a relatively small amphora mound with a pile of iron anchors at one end and a well-defined area containing kitchen utensils and hearth and roof tiles at the other. (for more information, see Site & Excavation)
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