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Archaeological investigation near the Franina cape

Archaeological investigation near the Franina cape

Rt (cape) Franina, a small headland, lies at the east end of the Kamenjak peninsula, to the south of Pula. Iron cannons and anchors lie on the seabed just off the cape.

For now, the remains of a wooden ship structure, three cannons and two anchors, as well as numerous individual finds of metal, glass and ceramics, testifying to the equipment of the ship and its cargo, have been discovered at the bottom. According to the typological characteristics of the find, the remains of this ship date back to the beginning of the 17th century.

The multi-year project of researching the remains of shipwreck near the Franina cape is supported by funding provided through the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media, and addition to the staff of the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar, the experts from Romano-Germanic Commission of the German Archaeological Institute (RGK-DAI) and Croatian Conservation Institute (HRZ) also joined the research campaign. The research campaign principal investigator is Luka Bekić, PhD and deputy investigator is Maja Kaleb. Members of the working group that regularly participate in the research are: archaeologists and restorers Roko Surić, Zdenka Vrgoč, Roman Scholz (RGK-DAI) and Igor Mihajlović (HRZ), together with numerous colleagues and technical divers. The logistical support for the investigative work was provided by the Diving Indie centre in Banjole.

Systematic archaeological investigation of the post-medieval wreck near the Franina cape began in 2020. That year, an initial photogrammetric plan of the site was made and several micro trenches were excavated, which served to assess the future scope of that investigation. The following year, the first major research campaign started, during which the first trench, measuring two by two meter, was fully explored. At the same time, in 2021 a new site plan was drawn up and an experimental project for cleaning and preserving the iron cannons at the seabottom was initiated.The results were encouraging, and a more extensive campaign was planned for the following year.

In the third campaign, the area of systematic excavation was expanded. Among the movable finds, many iron parts of the ship's fittings, lead rifle shot, glass beads and bowls, smaller or larger parts of ceramic ware were recorded. Extraordinary find is that of many parts brass trumpets, pointing to yet another aspect of the ship's valuable cargo.The wooden ship structure was also found in the new trenches and is in very good condition. The outer planking, frames, and parts of the inner planking have been preserved. The underwater cleaning and conservation of the cannons, further enhanced this year with the installation of new and larger aluminium sacrificial anodes, is proving to be a far-reaching conservation project. In this respect this site could become the best practice example of the in situ protection of underwater cultural heritage.

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