Home Archaeology projects Roman period shipwreck with sarcophagi near Sutivan on the island of Brač
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Roman period shipwreck with sarcophagi near Sutivan on the island of Brač

In 2009 the Croatian Conservations Institute's Department of Underwater Archaeology carried out research of a Roman period shipwreck with sarcophagi near Sutivan on the island of Brač. The site is located at a depth of 32 metres, and stretches out over some 40 square metres. Twenty-one stone objects, arranged in two rows, are visible, the lower row of which is almost entirely covered by sand. Recognisable among the objects are seven sarcophagi, two lids, one stone jar with visible perforations, nine stone blocks and one column of circular cross section. The dimensions of sarcophagus no. 3 are 200 x 92 cm, with a height of 72 cm. Lid no. 6 has similar dimensions of 215 x 107 cm.

 

Photo documentation of the site

Documenting the stone jar

Photo documentation of the site Documenting the stone jar

 

A firm aluminium grid has been installed over the locality with the aid of which all visible objects have been drawn into a site map. Based on the distribution on the seabed it can be presumed that they were situated in the same fashion on board the vessel. The width of the main concentration of finds, not including the stone jar, which likely rolled during the sinking, is 4.10 metres, which indicates that the vessel was a little over 5 metres wide. The length of the ship probably did not exceed 18 metres. And while it is thankless to presume the vessel's tonnage (the extent of objects concealed by the sand is unknown) it probably is not in excess of 50 tonnes, which is consistent with a vessel for local navigation.

 

Documenting the site with the aid of a firm grid netting

Documenting the site with the aid of a firm grid netting

Documenting the site with the aid of a firm grid netting Documenting the site with the aid of a firm grid netting

 

A survey of the surface of the locality and surrounding area did not yield any other objects, ceramic or wooden, that belonged to this shipwreck. It is presumable that the deeper layers of sand contain the remains of a wooden ship's structure and the remains of the vessels in the ship's galley, which would provide a more precise dating of the shipwreck. Based on the available data this could be a ship used to transport stone intermediate goods from one of the stone quarries on the island of Brač to buyers in Salona during the late Roman period. This shipwreck is numbered among the few with this type of cargo found in either the Adriatic or Mediterranean Seas.

 

A map of the site

A map of the site

 

Igor Mihajlović