Thursday, September 09, 2004


Roman ships removed from Naples subway site


(AGI) - Naples, Italy, Sept. 7 - The first step of their restoration, an estimated five years, took place today, with the removal of the first ship from the sand and slime that protected them for centuries.

Two of the three ships from the Imperial Age were taken away for a large crane from the subway station being built in Piazza Municipio in Naples.

The delicate operation, done with companies which won the bid for the job and the Naples and Caserta Archaeological Superintendent, started today with the removal of the first hull, 12 meters long and weighing 21 tons in its fibreglass conservation shell, and its transport to a specially made warehouse in Piscinola, a northern suburb of the city. Last year, in the same warehouse, a Medieval fountain was housed, removed from the construction site of the Piazza Nicola Amore station, another site that yielded exceptional finds.

There are three ships, on the bottom of what was Naples' Roman port. All are dated, thanks to carbon 14 dating of the wood, around the first century AD. "Two are commercial ships, able to do medium to long trip, that is, to the Roman port of Ostia. The third is a service ship used inside the port, as seen by the low keel and the vertical bow," said archaeologist Daniela Gianpaolo.

The excavation operations required months of time, delicate phases and specific know how. There are very few antique ships in the world, and fewer still that survived 2000 years in such great conditions.

The Naples Superintendent used the knowledge already used by the Tuscan Superintendent for ships found in Pisa and the experts of the Central Restoration Institute. Initially, the inside and outside of the ships were sampled, photographed, recorded, and scanned with 3D lasers.

Then small portions of the ships were excavated, as demonstrated by the regional coordinator of the superintendents, Stefano De Caro, who illustrated the methodology to Naples mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino, region president Antonio Bassolino and province president Dino Di Palma.

(AGI) 071934 SET 04

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