French Parking Lot Yields Roman Shipwreck

Ship sank in shallow water at ancient port

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 5, 2012 2:24 AM CDT | Updated Sep 5, 2012 2:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – Archaeologists investigating the site of a proposed parking lot in the French Riviera have found a vessel that has been parked there for nearly 2,000 years. The Roman shipwreck is believed to have sunk just off the ancient port of Antipolis, in an area that gradually filled with sand. The ground remained waterlogged, which researchers say kept the trading vessel's hull in "exceptional" condition, although it sank so close to shore that its cargo—probably the fish sauce the area was once famous for—was likely salvaged soon after it sank, reports the Guardian.

The wreck is so well-preserved that saw marks are visible in the wood, and archaeologists found a small brush they believe was dropped by a workman who caulked the hull 19 centuries ago. The wreck will be dismantled, treated for preservation, and reassembled for display, a process expected to take four years. The site has also yielded huge amounts of assorted debris from the old Roman port's centuries of trading. Archaeologists say the finds are all the more valuable because 90% of the port site was destroyed to build a marina in the 1970s, before the law required archaeologists to investigate such sites before construction.

Sprinklers have been used to keep the waterlogged timber from disintegrating.
Sprinklers have been used to keep the waterlogged timber from disintegrating.   (Remi Benali/Inrap)
The waterlogged ground has kept the timbers in excellent condition.
The waterlogged ground has kept the timbers in excellent condition.   (Remi Benali/Inrap)
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