Miners in Serbia have made an unusual discovery: the remains of an ancient Roman ship were found near the historic village of Viminacium. The discovery, the second such find in the area since 2020, prompted experts to take hasty measures to preserve the wreck before it collapses.
The ship is believed to have been part of a river fleet that served the bustling Roman metropolis of Viminacium. This highly developed city of 45,000 inhabitants had such impressive structures as a hippodrome, walls, forum, palace, temples, amphitheater, aqueducts, baths and workshops.
Leading archaeologist Miomir Korac suggests that the ship could have been built as early as the 3rd-4th centuries AD, when Viminacium served as the capital of the Roman province of Moesia Superior. Located near an arm of the Danube, the city had a harbor, which facilitated trade and transportation.
Although the exact age of the ship remains unknown, work is underway to prevent further destruction. Archaeologists have flooded the wood with water and are storing it under a protective awning to shelter it from the hot summer sun.
According to experts, previous finds in the area indicate that these ships and canoes either sank or were abandoned on the riverbank. The find will be displayed along with thousands of other artifacts discovered at Viminacium near the town of Kostolac, 70 kilometers (45 miles) east of Belgrade.
However, moving the 13-meter-long ship’s hull poses a major challenge. Mladen Jovicic, a member of the excavation team, explains that special engineering structures will be used to lift the fragile remains without causing harm. The conservation process will then begin to ensure the ship’s long-term preservation.
Viminacium has been the site of permanent excavations since 1882, but only a small part of the area has been thoroughly explored so far. The area, larger than New York’s Central Park, remains virtually untouched by modern development and provides a glimpse into ancient Roman life.
The finds made at the Viminacium were simply extraordinary. From gold tiles and jade sculptures to mosaics, frescoes and even the bones of three mammoths, each find expands our understanding of this once thriving Roman metropolis.