Ancient 'Roman Boat' Unearthed Near Serbia's Belgrade
11:34 05.08.2023 (Updated: 11:36 05.08.2023)
© AFP 2023 ANDREJ ISAKOVICArcheologists work at an archaeological site right next to a coal mine and a power plant, in central Serbia’s Stari Kostolac on December 3, 2021
© AFP 2023 ANDREJ ISAKOVIC
Researchers in Serbia are currently waiting for exact radiocarbon dates of wood from the vessel’s skeleton, which is the second such discovery in the area since 2020.
Serbian archeologists are doing their best to preserve the remains of an ancient ship, which was unearthed by local coal miners about 70 km (45 miles) east of the capital Belgrade in late July.
The vessel is thought to be part of a river fleet serving the highly developed ancient Roman city of Viminacium.
Miomir Korac, director of the Viminacium archeological site, told reporters that he and his colleagues “may assume that this ship is Roman,” but that they are “unsure of its exact age.” According to him, “it may be from the first century AD, or it could be from the third or fourth.”
Archeologists suggested that originally, the flat-bottom ship was most likely about 20 meters (65 feet) long and around 3.5 meters (12 feet) (3.5 m) wide. The vessel, which looked like a barge, was evidently used to carry cargo between the Danube and Viminacium.
"It is likely that the barge was towed from the shore or driven by oars, and in suitable situations the ship could also use the wind to move, using an auxiliary sail," the archaeologists argued.
The ship is expected to be on display with scores of other artifacts unearthed from the Viminacium site, located near the Serbian town of Kostolac.
Korac’s colleague Mladen Jovicic admitted said that “this will be a very challenging procedure,” adding that they hope for assistance of their “engineer friends from the mine in Drmno” and “their conservators” from the Belgrade-based Institute of Archeology, “who will protect the ship, so that the wood does not fail.”
The remains of similar boats were discovered found in the area in 2020, in a sign that the region was once a navigable backwater of the nearby Danube River.