Roman shipwreck found in Portugal

A team of archaeologists are working to try and discover remains of a shipwreck from the Roman period, among other potential finds, in the Arade River in Portimão as part of an underwater archaeological campaign that started on Wednesday. 

Roman shipwreck found in Portugal
Selection of artefacts recovered from the Arade River in Portimão [Credit: Portugal News]
Archaeologist Cristóvão Fonseca explained that the fieldwork, which is due to last two weeks, will comprise an initial phase of visual prospection and data recording with photographs and drawings, and the excavation of artefacts that may be found on the surface.

It is believed one of the locations identified for prospection may have been the site of a shipwreck during Roman times, due to the discovery of a large concentration of ceramic vases called amphora, some still intact.

Despite this, the theory may only be confirmed with excavations, which depending on the results obtained during the next two weeks could take place next year.

If confirmed, the area may become part of a tourist diving route, attracting more visitors to Portimão, which will see two decommissioned ships sunk at the end of this month as an underwater museum.

“The antiquity of the artefacts and the possibility that they tell a story makes diving in that area more interesting,” said Mr. Fonseca.

The archaeologist, along with José Bettencourt, are coordinators of the archaeological campaign carried out by the Sea History Centre of the Faculty of Social Sciences from Lisbon’s Nova University.

The work, which should extend for the next three to four years, is part of an investigation project entitled ‘Between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic: getting closer to the underwater cultural heritage of the Arade River estuary.”

Aside from that area, the archaeologists will dive in other sections of the river where the remains of five iron cannons and ammunition were found as well as bronze weapon artefacts from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The study on the cannons and weapons, identified during the 1990s, point to a shipwreck in that area of a ship that may have sailed under the Spanish crown during the beginning of the 17th century.

Another area to be explored appears to have the partially buried remains of a large wooden ship from the same time period.

The team of archaeologists, supported by technicians from Portimão museum and volunteers from a diving centre, among others, aims to carry out two dives per day to a depth of between four and ten metres.

The last archaeological prospection work to take place in the Arade River occurred five years ago.

Source: The Portugal News Online [October 18, 2012]

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