Anti-mine divers discover 3rd c. B.C. shipwreck

An ancient shipwreck from the 3rd century B.C. was discovered by divers from the Croatian and Italian navies during anti-mine training exercises in the Adriatic. The wreck, found at a depth of more than 140 feet below the surface, carried a cargo of amphorae. Underneath the field of amphorae is a complete ancient shipwreck. It is one of the earliest fully preserved shipwrecks ever found on the eastern coast of the Adriatic.

The joint training mine-counting mission took place in the sea water around Šćedro Island because no existing archaeological sites had been mapped there, but the search for mines provided an excellent opportunity to cooperate with the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media on exploring the seabed.

The activity was carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, the Conservation Department in Split of the Ministry of Culture and Media and the University of Split. After the perimeter of the search was determined, a multi-layered recording (scanning) of the bottom was started, by processing the obtained data, i.e. by reviewing the recorded material, several potential “contacts” (positions) that could represent archaeological sites (shipwrecks) were detected. The target positions were then inspected with an underwater ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) equipped with a smaller sonar and camera, or joint teams of Croatian and Italian anti-mine divers immediately performed dives in order to determine the context of the findings. An inspection of one such position resulted in the discovery of a hitherto undiscovered, fully preserved ancient shipwreck.

Underwater archaeologists will return to the site to explore its context and document the placement of the cargo on the sea floor. Once the wreck is fully recorded, experts will come up with a plan for its long-term protection and conservation.

 Divers survey amphora field from 3rd century B.C. shipwreck off Croatia. Photo by Saša Denegri and Robert Kramarić. Detail of amphora field. Photo by Saša Denegri and Robert Kramarić.

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