Archive for March, 2022

Fra Mauro world map digitized to the nines

Monday, March 21st, 2022

The visionary world map created by 15th century monk Fra Mauro has been digitized and can now be explored in detail online with a fantastic depth and breadth of explanatory material in Italian, English and Chinese.

Made in the monastery of San Michele in Isola around 1450, the map took a whole new approach to cartography, eschewing the purely symbolic representations of a world centered on Jerusalem or Rome common in medieval European maps before then. It is based on the Geography of Ptolemy and contemporary marine charts, and includes thousands of annotations derived from ancient sources, medieval scholars, explorers like Marco Polo and Niccolò de’ Conti and eye-witness reports Fra Mauro got from travelers to Venice and visiting Ethiopian monks. It is brilliantly illuminated, densely packed with iconographic imagery representing cities, castles, roads, ships, even shipwrecks. Leonardo Bellini, illuminator and nephew of famed painter Jacopo Bellini, painted an image of the Garden of Eden in one corner.

The map was displayed at the monastery — initially in the church itself — and rapidly became an icon of Venice’s status as a flourishing center of global commerce and art.  It stayed there for 350 years until the suppression of monasteries under Napoleon in 1810 when it was transferred to the city of Venice. It is now part of the permanent collection of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana.

The digital edition of Fra Mauro’s world map embraces its creator’s embrace of data abundance. A collaboration of the Galileo Museum in Florence, the Marciana National Library and the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, the map can be explored virtually in as little or as much depth as you’d like. Click section 2 to focus in on the interactive map and click around at your discretion, but fair warning: it is an overwhelming amount of information to absorb. I highly recommend starting at the beginning with the introduction and clicking through the sections in order.

Just to give you a quick glimpse of the density of content here, check out one single menu item, the cartouches in the Geographic Space category. It highlights, transcribes and translates every one of the 2,922 cartouches that describe cities, countries, regions, bodies of water, roads, bridges, trade routes and so much more. Scroll down the menu a little further to explore Marco Polo’s travel itinerary linked with the contemporary locations on Google Maps.

Most of the menu selections have interactive audio and video. Just click on the play buttons to launch detailed explanations of what you’re seeing. (I found the Legendary Places view entertaining). Subsequent sections contextualize the map, its significance at the time, how it was reproduced, its place in a timeline of other illuminated world maps (all of which are also digitized in high resolution so you can hunt through even more medieval cartography) and the enormous influence of Ptolemy on the world map. Fra Mauro’s Marine Chart gets its own dedicated section.

Last but certainly not least is a Digital Library that makes my nerdy heart go pit-a-pat. Every entry is a book about geography and travel hyperlinked to a digitized version of the tome in question. The digitization truly redefines deep dive.

Medieval St. George seal matrix found in French château

Sunday, March 20th, 2022

A previously unpublished and unknown bronze seal matrix of Saint George slaying the dragon has been discovered at the royal Château of Villers-Cotterêts in northern France. George’s armor stylistically dates the piece the early 15th century.

The chateau was built in 1528 by King Francis I. Its greatest fame comes from having been the location where King Francis I signed the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts, the edict that replaced Latin with French in all official acts of law and government, in August of 1539. It is the oldest French law still in force in French courts today.

Archaeologists have been excavating the royal estate since 2020. The seal was discovered in a coal pouch in a room in the north wing of the castle. Seal matrices were extremely important in the Middle Ages, the sole means of confirming the authenticity of a signature, and as such were customarily destroyed or buried with the owner after death. For one to be tossed in with the coals it was almost certainly lost by accident, perhaps by someone warming himself at a fireplace, and was inadvertently discarded with the ashes by staff.

The seal matrix is circular with a pierced mount on the back from which the seal could be worn on a chain around the neck or tied to a belt. It is hollow engraved on the obverse with a mounted horseman in full plate armor. Under the legs of the rearing horse is a dragon. It is bordered with a beaded edge and inscribed “IP PRI/EUR / DEVILLERS / LESM / OINE”.

The inscription indicates the seal belonged to the prior of the Saint George monastery in Villers-les-Moines which was a half-mile stroll from the Chateau of Villers-Cotterêts. Very little is known about this priory, which makes the discovery of the prior’s seal even more historically significant.

Largest starfish offering found at Templo Mayor

Saturday, March 19th, 2022

Archaeologists have discovered an elaborate Mexica offering containing 164 starfish at the Templo Mayor in Mexico City. This is the largest number of starfish ever found in a ritual context. One of them is uniquely well-preserved, a magnificent specimen of Nidorellia armata, commonly known as the chocolate chip star, 22 cm (8.7 inches) wide with all of its internal structures still intact.

Offering number 178 was discovered late last year in the circular building known as the Cuauhxicalco, described in 16th century accounts as the place where the rulers of Tenochtitlan were cremated. It is the largest ritual offering ever discovered in the Templo Mayor precinct, combining symbolic elements of earth and water, like the remains of a female jaguar armed with an atlatl (spear-thrower) and large numbers of marine organisms including coral, puffer fish, snail shells and the aforementioned starfish.

Stratigraphy places the offering in the sixth stage of construction, dating it to around 1500, the end of the reign of great military leader Ahuitzotl and the beginning of the reign of his successor Moctezuma Xocoyotzin. This was the last hurrah of the Aztec Empire before the arrival of the Spanish.

During the government of Ahuízotl, the Mexicas established trade routes, along with their military expansion in various parts of Mesoamerica, hence the presence in Tenochtitlan of corals brought from the Gulf of Mexico, starfish from the Pacific Ocean, and a female jaguar that could have been brought from distant regions such as Soconusco, a territory located between what is now Chiapas and Guatemala.

Based on historical sources, such as the Matrícula de Tributos , and previous findings, PTM archaeologists are clear that the offering is related to war, not only because of the atlatl that the jaguar carried in a claw, but because of its location in the Cuauhxicalco, building aligned with the southern side of the Templo Mayor, consecrated to Huitzilopochtli, god of war.

Báez Pérez explains that in their worldview, the Mexica related starfish and jaguars with the night sky and the night, this feline being an image associated with the god Tezcatlipoca, in his nocturnal representation.

“A good part of the Mesoamerican peoples believed that the origin of the world was linked to the sea, therefore, marine organisms were treated as relics. In the case of the Mexicas, their military power allowed them to bring thousands of marine objects and recreate an entire aquatic environment in Tenochtitlan itself.”

The offering is so complex and dense that archaeologists are still recovering all of its elements, fragment by fragment, so they can be analyzed in laboratory conditions. The final count of starfish may well rise even higher. Archaeologists believe perfectly-preserved starfish was placed in the offering pit first on a layer of fiber. The weight of the jaguar and copious other offerings then pressed the fellow into the fiber and kept the organic matter from decomposing as it did for the other 163 starfish. It is still in situ while the team determines how best to remove it en bloc to ensure both it and the sediment on which it was found come out together.

Porta Maggiore underground basilica illuminated

Friday, March 18th, 2022

The public has been given a bright new glimpse at the unique basilica of mysterious purpose under Porta Maggiore just outside Rome’s ancient Aurelian walls thanks to the installation of a state-of-the-art illumination system. It is a very brief glimpse — the basilica was only opened from the 18th to the 20th — before the next stage of conservation begins. There is a too-short but wonderful video of conservators cleaning the richly-colored frescoes and of the superb white stucco reliefs on the walls and vaulted ceilings visible in whole new detail under the new lighting.

The new lighting system was inspired by the original one, using LED lights of different colors to suggest the natural illumination that bathed the basilica from the skylight of the vestibule. The apse, which is now white, was originally painted with extremely expensive Egyptian Blue pigment. It was stripped in antiquity, but the LEDs give a hint of the blue that once was.

Built deep under ground level in the 1st century A.D., the basilica has the traditional three-aisled form with aisles divided from the nave by two rows of three square pillars. It is not, however, traditional in purpose. Basilicas were secular buildings in Rome, dedicated to civic purposes like law courts and imperial audiences. It wasn’t until Constantine legalized Christianity in 313 A.D. that he chose to adopt the architectural form in the construction of new Christian churches, so this Julio-Claudian basilica was presciently anomalous. It’s also the only underground basilica ever found.

Its purpose is unknown. It was not a temple. It was not a catacomb. The stucco decoration — mythological scenes including the abduction of Ganymede, Orpheus and Eurydice, Paris and Helen, Chiron teaching Achilles, the head of Medusa — attests to it having had a religious function. Scholars have suggested it may have been a family tomb or a nymphaeum, but the prevailing thought now, based on common motifs in some of the stucco decoration, is that it was a place of worship for elite members of a Neopythagorean mystery religion. If so, they didn’t get to worship there for long. It was infilled with rubble a few years after it was built.

The basilica’s archaeological importance is not reflected in its fame, as it has had little opportunity to be exposed to a public that has a million other ancient marvels to choose from in Rome. Conservation has been a constant problem from the moment it was rediscovered. The sinkhole that alerted to its existence damaged the ceiling. Train vibrations and water infiltration damaged the walls, plaster and frescoes.

A major push for conservation to prevent further deterioration finally succeeded in funding the complete restoration of the interior of the Basilica of Porta Maggiore. The conservation project has been ongoing for more than 15 years. In 2015, the work has progressed sufficiently to allow the basilica to be open to the public on a limited basis. The pandemic shut down even that limited access, but thankfully conservation was able to continue and experts were able to remove efflorescence, carbonation spots and patinas of microorganisms endemic in the damp hypogeal space from the frescoes and stuccoes on the entrance wall, pillars of the left aisle and the vestibule.

Garden ornament is lost Canova masterpiece

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

A statue of the Recumbent Magdalene made by Neoclassical sculptor par excellence Antonio Canova has been rediscovered 100 years after it was sold off and its illustrious creator forgotten. It will be going under the hammer at Christie’s in London in July with a pre-sale estimate of £5,000,000-8,000,000 ($6,580,000-10,530,000).

Recumbent Magdalene was celebrated as a masterpiece in its time. When this sculpture was commissioned by Prime Minister Lord Liverpool, Canova had been the most famous sculptor in Europe for three decades, creating works for popes and aristocrats, depicting Napoleon nude as Mars (the Emperor rejected it on the grounds that it was “too athletic”) and Napoleon’s sister Paulina nude as Venus (Canova had planned for her to be depicted as Diana the Virgin Huntress; she insisted on posing nude as Venus). Napoleon as fig-leafed, muscular Mars, btw, was bought by the British government in 1816 and gifted to the Duke of Wellington as the ultimate trophy for his victory at Waterloo.

Completed in the summer of 1822, the Magdalene was one of the two last sculptures the master made before his death on October 13th, 1822. The other, The Sleeping Endymion and his Dog, was commissioned by the 6th Duke of Devonshire and has been on display in the Sculpture Gallery of Chatsworth House ever since. After Canova’s death, the Duchess of Devonshire wrote to Lord Liverpool:

“My dear Lord Liverpool . . . You will with the rest of Europe have mourned over Canova – it is a loss truly irreparable, & which I cannot think of without tears . . . you & Duke of Devonshire [who commissioned the Endymion] have the last strokes of his chisel . . . “.

After Lord Liverpool’s death, the Magdalene passed to his son Charles. It left the family after Charles’ death when it was sold at auction in 1852 to William, the 11th Baron Ward. The catalogue listed it as “one of the finest and most highly finished works of Canova,” and it was exhibited at high-profile events for years after that. In 1920, Ward’s sold his ancestral estate and all of its contents to a carpet manufacturer. One of those contents was the Recumbent Magdalene, but somehow in this transfer of ownership, the attribution was lost.

It acquired a new identity as a garden sculpture in the 1950s and the current owner bought it in 2002 at a sale of garden statuary.

The current owners, reported by the Financial Times as a British couple, contacted the London-based advisor Francis Outred who led a team that made the discovery. A condition report finds that a crucifix on the figure’s shoulder is now largely missing, but that the work is in otherwise “very good” condition.

“This work has been searched for by scholars for decades, so the discovery is of fundamental importance for the history of collecting and the history of art,” says Mario Guderzo, a leading Canova scholar and former director of the Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova in Possagno, Italy. A plaster model of the work, made in 1819, is held at the museum.

The work will go on show this weekend at Christie’s London and then tour to New York (8-13 April) and Hong Kong (27 May-1 June). The sale coincides with the bicentenary year of Canova’s death.

Mausoleum, industrial silver mystery site found in Kent

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

After 15 years of archaeological investigation and extensive research, a Roman site with unique features including a mausoleum and evidence of massive silver production has been published in a new monograph by Pre-Construct Archaeology.. Grange Farm in Kent was first settled in the Late Iron Age (ca. 100 B.C.) but became much more active after the Roman conquest because it was located a mile north of Watling Street, a major Roman road that ran from Dover to London.

In 2005, Grange Farm was archaeologically excavated prior to construction of a housing development. Over a year of excavations, archaeologists discovered a 4th century aisled building, walled enclosures from orchards, evidence of metalwork in both iron and silver and a large mausoleum containing the remains of an adult woman in a lead coffin.

The rectangular wooden building was divided into three long aisles dividing the usage areas — a living space on one end, a metalworking shop on the other end and a fireplace dividing the two. This building design was relatively common in Britain and was used for a variety of purposes, but this example is unique for the large quantity of litharge, a byproduct of the cupellation process used to separate silver from smelted lead ores, found there.

A small amount would be expected from the metalworking facilities in the aisled building, but archaeologists discovered 15 kg (33 lbs) of it, the largest amount ever found at a Roman site in England. So much litharge could only have been produced by a silver extraction operation of industrial proportions, and yet, the dig did not discover any traces of the type of infrastructure that would have been necessary to run an operation on this scale.

The mausoleum is another mysterious anomaly. It dates to the late 3rd or early 4th century A.D. and would have originally stood two stories high. Built on top of a raised terrace, it was visible for miles around. The interior had a tessellated red mosaic floor, extremely rare in Roman Britain, and contained a lead coffin holding the remains of a middle-aged woman. Lead coffins were luxury items in Britain, and the combination of lead coffin inside a mausoleum indicates the woman was someone of wealth and status.

She was not one of the idle rich, however. Osteoarthritic lesions found on her bones attest to her having labored hard at some point in her life. Stable isotope analysis of her teeth suggests she may have been a local, but the results were not conclusive. She may also have originated in southern England, eastern England or continental Europe. Radiocarbon dating points to her having died around the time the mausoleum was built.

The grand mausoleum dominated the landscape for centuries before it fell to ruin by the time of the Norman Conquest. Anglo-Saxon artifacts were found in the mausoleum, including a solid silver gilded Nydam Style brooch from the late 5th century, one of the earliest Scandinavian-style brooches ever found in England, and two spearheads from the same period. There is no evidence of Anglo-Saxon occupation at Grange Farm; they didn’t live there and nobody was buried there. Archaeologists suspect these valuable objects may have been left deliberately as votive offerings, suggesting the Anglo-Saxons, then still new immigrants to the area, held the mausoleum in reverence.

“The brooch is a very unusual find—stylistically it is closer to southern Scandinavia and is one of only a handful of similar brooches found in Britain,” added [Dr. James Gerrard, Senior Lecturer in Roman Archaeology]. “Both the spears and brooch are unusual and high-status objects on an otherwise unassuming rural site.

“The mausoleum wasn’t in use at this time, and in fact it appears that the grave of the elderly lady was disturbed in later years—possibly by early medieval graverobbers or relic hunters.”

As well as the litharge and the mysteries surrounding the mausoleum and the elderly lady in the lead-lined coffin, the team of archaeologists also found 453 Roman coins, more than 20,000 fragments of pottery and 8,000 animal bones.

14th c. lead sarcophagus found under Notre Dame

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

14th c. anthropoid lead sarcophagus found under spire of Notre-Dame. Photo by AFP.A lead anthropoid coffin from the 14th century has been discovered under Notre-Dame de Paris. Archaeologists unearthed the sarcophagus in the very heart of the cathedral where the transept and nave intersect, so the individual buried there must have been someone of importance, likely a church dignitary. Notre-Dame was the final resting place of several prominent individuals, but this is the first time a well-preserved intact sarcophagus has been found.

The area is being excavated archaeologically prior to the installation of massive scaffolding 330 feet high that will be used in the reconstruction of the spire that was so wrenchingly burned to the ground in fire that devastated Notre-Dame on April 15th, 2019. Archaeologists and scientists dug under the nave-transept intersection point to ensure the ground and subground are structurally sound enough to support the spire during and after construction.

The sarcophagus was found in the middle of a network of brick heating pipes from the 19th century. Apparently they added the pipes working around the sarcophagus. The soft lead had been dented by the weight of soil and stones on top of it, but it is overall in excellent condition. A mini endoscopic camera threaded into the sarcophagus confirmed that the contents are as well.

“You can glimpse pieces of fabric, hair and above all a pillow of leaves on top of the head, a well-known phenomenon when religious leaders were buried,” said Christophe Besnier, the lead archaeologist.

“The fact that these plant elements are still inside means the body is in a very good state of conservation,” he added.

Its discovery will help improve our understanding of funeral practices in the Middle Ages, added Dominique Garcia of the National Institute of Archaeological Research.

A few feet away from the sarcophagus at the foot of the choir, archaeologists discovered the broken remains of the old rood screen, the partition between the chancel and nave that was a common feature in churches of the late Middle Ages. Notre Dame’s rood screen was carved of stone and featured numerous statues painted in bright colors. It was built in 1230 and remained in place until the early 18th century, even though rood screens fell out favor in the mid-16th century when the Council of Trent required that Mass be made more accessible to the congregation. A heavy physical barrier blocking worshippers’ view of the altar was no longer on policy.

The screen was demolished, but it seems the crew did not believe in a keeping a clean workspace because archaeologists have found numerous fragments of stone from the screen, and larger pieces including the head of bearded man, vegetable accents and two clasped hands.

Human bone amulet found in Bronze Age grave

Monday, March 14th, 2022

Archaeologists have discovered a unique amulet made with human bone in the grave of a woman from the Bronze Age Tagar culture in southern Siberia. The grave was unearthed in the Kazanovka 1 cemetery in the Minusinsk basin in 2020. It was one of multiple burials in 16 stone enclosures built with slabs and flagstones. Kurgan number 15 was divided into two enclosures by vertical sandstone slabs. The remains of four individuals — three adults and one child — were found in one of the enclosures. The remains of an adult woman were found in the other.

Her grave was an 8 x 14.6 feet rectangle pit with a stepped border. Large stones capped the perimeter with small flagstones filling the gaps around them and the border. The woman was buried in supine position, her head turned to the west, her arms outstretched down the length of her body. She had been elaborately adorned for burial. A circular bronze mirror with traces of a red leather pouch was nestled next to her pelvis. Bronze plaques and pins were found next to her right shoulder.

The grave contained the remains of animal offerings as well. The head of horse had been placed on the grave cover, and large pieces of meat and the carcasses of a calf and sheep were buried with the woman. A bronze knife and awl in a leather case were found next to the carcasses.

But it was the amulet found next to the woman’s right elbow that proved the most unexpected discovery.

The upper part was an X comprised of threaded tubular bronze and cap beads interspersed with carnelian beads. The lower part was also made of bronze tubular beads, with white argillite beads. A boar fang hung from this lower part.

And in the center, between them, the archaeologists detected shreds of what may have been a silken cloth bag, and a fragment of human rib bone.

Other burials in the region have beads, animal bones, fangs of boars or musk deer, and bird claws. It is also worth noting that similar amulets have been found in the basin, almost always been found in association within female burials.

Human bones that appear to have been used for ritual purposes have been found in other kurgans — a rib bone in a large pot, a wrist bone in a small vessel — but this is the only Tagar amulet found to include a human bone.

Shipwreck timber analysis confirms early 1600s date

Sunday, March 13th, 2022

A new analysis of timbers from a shipwreck believed to have sunk off the Cape Cod in 1626 has found it was built in England in the late 16th, early 17th century. This is the first scientific dating of the ship known as the Sparrow-Hawk, and the results confirm that it is the oldest known shipwreck from English Colonial America, and the only known surviving example of a 17th century trans-Atlantic vessel.

The small 40-foot ship was transporting 25 passengers, English settlers and Irish indentured servants and farmers, to Virginia when it ran aground on a sand bar near the modern-day town of Orleans on eastern Cape Cod. Massachusetts Bay colony governor William Bradford wrote about the wreck in his journal (paragraphs 262-266), recording the hardships they had experienced in the journey. The captain got scurvy and was so sick he could only vaguely direct the ship from the threshold of his cabin, so they got lost and spent six weeks at sea. By the time they hit that sandbar, they were out of water, beer and wood and had to be rescued, first by English-speaking members of the Nauset  tribe and then by the Plymouth colonists.

Bradford reports that they tried to repair the ship which despite having been blown about in the storm was still deemed recoverable, but once they had salvaged all the cargo they could, they realized the ship could never be made seaworthy again. They were given some land in Plymouth Plantation to farm for nine months, and had a decent enough corn harvest to pay for transport on two ships headed to Virginia in the summer of 1627.

The broken ship was soon buried under the sand. The timbers would be spotted on occasion, but a big storm in 1862 fully exposed the remains of the ship’s hull. It was at this time that the ship, its real name unknown, was given the moniker Sparrow-Hawk. The timbers were removed and reconstructed for exhibition. It was put on display in conditions that would give any modern conservator a series of heart attacks, including en plein air on Boston Common. In 1889, it was given to the Pilgrim Society and at least moved indoors to the Pilgrim Hall Museum.

The 109 timbers are too fragile for display now, but they are remain in the stores of the Pilgrim Hall Museum. In 2018, researchers took samples and photographs of the timbers for dendrochronological analysis. Tree ring patterns matched those from southern England in the 17th century. Also typical of the English shipbuilding tradition is the use of elm for the keel. Radiocarbon wiggle-match dating, a form of C-14 analysis that can be used to date more recent organic remains, found that the wood used to make the ship was felled between 1556 and 1646.

The dating and provenance identification process has been a long, complicated but hugely worthwhile exercise. Even if it cannot confirm the identity of the vessel, the wiggle-matching suggests that it is unlikely that this vessel is later than the mid-seventeenth century. Traffic along this coast increased, from 1620 onward, but was still relatively light in comparison to European coasts, with proportionately fewer losses. The number of possibilities for the identity of this wreck has been substantially narrowed, since we can be reasonably sure it is not a ship from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. It is even less likely that one of the few other ships wrecked on Cape Cod before 1650 might be in the same spot as Bradford reported in 1626. There is nothing in the construction of the remains that would be out of place in a vessel of this date. The assembly of the backbone elements and the framing method can be seen in the remains of other smaller vessels from the seventeenth century from Northern European sites. An upper pump box (the moving piston in a type of pump commonly used on ships in the early modern period) found in the wreck survives, and this is identical in its form and features with the pump boxes found on the Swedish warship Vasa, which sank in 1628…. By narrowing the likely date range, and combining it with the geographical and construction data, the statistical probability that this is a wreck other than the 1626 vessel has been significantly reduced.

The study has been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports and can be read in its entirety here.

Roman shipwreck cargo recovered off Mallorca

Saturday, March 12th, 2022

An archaeological salvage operation has recovered objects from a Roman merchant vessel that sank off the coast of Mallorca 1,700 years ago. The wreck is less than seven feet deep under the Bay of Palma 160 feet away from one the most popular tourist beaches on the island, but it was effectively covered by the sands and was not fully visible until a storm churned up the seabed three years ago. It has not been looted, thankfully, but it is very exposed and vulnerable to the elements and human bad actors, so the island government has now taken action to ensure the richly-laden vessel is fully explored and objects recovered before its long run of good luck ends.

A recovery operation overseen by the island’s governing body, the Consell de Mallorca, and involving experts from three Spanish universities in the Balearics, Barcelona and Cádiz, has retrieved about 300 amphorae as well as other objects that offer priceless insights into the Mediterranean of the fourth century AD and the crew’s daily lives.

In addition to the clay jars – which still bear their painted inscriptions or tituli picti – archaeologists have found a leather shoe, a rope shoe, a cooking pot, an oil lamp and only the fourth Roman carpenter’s drill recovered from the region. […]

“It’s important in terms of naval architecture because there are very few ancient boats that are as well preserved as this one,” says Dr Darío Bernal-Casasola, an archaeologist at the University of Cádiz. “There are no complete Roman boats in Spain.”

What’s more, he adds, the amphorae represent an improbable subaquatic archaeological hat-trick: “It’s incredibly difficult – almost impossible – to find whole amphorae that bear inscriptions, and also still have the remains of their contents. The state of conservation here is just amazing. And you have got all this in just 2 metres of water where millions of people have swum.”

By mineral analysis of the clay used to make the amphorae, archaeologists were able to pinpoint their origin: they were made in the Cartagena area. It attests to the pivotal role the Balearic islands played along the trade routes linking the Iberian mainland to Italy.

The project is scheduled to last three years, and it is singularly ambitious. Once all the objects on board, cargo and personal effects of the crew, are recovered, they will be catalogued and analyzed in detail. The team will then turn to the ship itself. There is a plan in the works to recover the entire hull so it can be stabilized and put on permanent display in a museum.

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