16 maio 2020

Coal miners in eastern Serbia discovered three boats in what may...

Coal miners in eastern Serbia discovered three boats in what may have been a branch of the Danube River some 1,300 years ago. The site where the vessels were uncovered is near the ancient Roman city of Viminacium, which fell to invaders around 600 CE.

The largest of the three boats had a flat bottom, a single deck, at least six pairs of oars, fittings for a triangular sail, and measured about 49 feet long. It would have carried a crew of 30 to 35 sailors. The ship apparently had a lengthy career: traces of repairs to the hull suggest a well-used ship, which incurred wear and tear over its journeys. The two smaller boats were carved from single tree trunks, and are thought to have been made by Slavic peoples for crossing the river.

No signs of battle damage have been found on the boats, and no artifacts were left behind by the crews. Since the largest ship was built with Roman techniques, it is possible the boat dates to the Roman period, but those methods of construction may have continued to be used during the Byzantine and medieval periods as well, making dating tricky.

Wood samples from preserved nearby oak trees have been sent for radiocarbon dating – but covid-19 has prevented analyses from moving forward.

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