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Underwater archaeological research near Cape Franina (2023)

Underwater archaeological research near Cape Franina (2023)

In the last three years, a team of underwater archaeologists and technical divers organized by the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar has been conducting underwater research near Cape Franina in the Premantura area. Experts from the German Archaeological Institute and members of the Croatia's riot police force from Pula are also participating in the research, which is financed by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia. Logistical support is provided by the diving centre Indie from Banjole.

At Cape Franina, at a depth of over twenty meters, the remains of a wooden sailing ship were found, from which three iron cannons and one anchor are visible on the sandy surface. According to the collected findings and their dating, it can be said that the ship sank here at the end of the 16th or the beginning of the 17th century. Its origin is currently shrouded in mystery, because the ship's equipment and cargo originate from different places. Archival historical research has not yielded results so far, so we are waiting for finds that would reveal the secrets of this ship.

Research has so far established that the ship, in addition to ceramics, multi-coloured glass beads and red glass bowls, also transported a cargo of brass trumpets. Brass trumpets from that era are very rare and less than ten instances have been preserved in the world. Nevertheless, dozens of different parts of trumpets have so far been found near Cape Franina, from which it can be concluded that the ship was transporting more than fifteen complete trumpets. This makes our site unique in the world. All findings are continuously conserved and restored in a specialized laboratory in Zadar, and we expect that the restored remains of the trumpets will be completed, assembled and afterwards released to the public within a few years.

Along with archaeological research, a very important pioneering project of preserving iron cannons under the sea is being carried out at this site. This unique technology is implemented for the first time in Croatia, and there are only a few such projects in the world. So far, the first of the three cannons has been successfully cleaned and protected, and this year we started working on the second cannon. The methods used in the protection of this site have already been brought to light at several important international scientific conferences. In a few years, when the system of such protection is perfected in practice, it could be applied to all sunken ships with iron plating, cannons and similar remains. In this way, the underwater cultural heritage will be preserved for a much longer period and will be more accessible to the public.

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