Beginning in the second century BC, many ships transporting wine amphoras and pottery sailed from Italy toward Gaul and Iberia (Spain). Around 75-60 BC, a large commercial sailboat coming from Central Italy sank off the harbor of Madrague de Giens, at the North-Western tip of the Giens peninsula. The ship transported a large cargo of about 600 wine amphoras and several black-lacquered vases.

Cargo of amphoras.
Work on the excavation of the objects, cleaning off the sediment, tagging in situ, and the photogrammetric analysis of various layers of cargo gave a better understanding of the disposition of the cargo: the amphoras were stacked in alternating rows on three levels, and steadied with sprigs and branches that limited friction.

The dishes were stacked in cases that were placed above the amphoras.

The amphoras' inscriptions, particularly the mark of Publicus Veveius Papus, made it possible to pinpoint the origin of the cargo: the Terracine area in the South of Latium, where pots with the same stamps were found in their place of manufacture.

The detailed study of the hull, which is exceptionally well preserved, revealed precise characteristics of this large ship, which resembled the sailboat in a mosaic from the Thermes of Themetra.

Excavation : A. Tchernia, P. Pomey, CNRS, Centre Camille Jullian.

Photos : CNRS, Centre Camille Jullian.