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Antique Shipwreck with Sarcophagi near Sutivan on the Island of Brač

Institute of Social Sciences IVO PILAR
Publication Date
  • Brodolom
  • Sarkofazi
  • Kamen
  • Sutivan


Different semi-finished stone objects make up for one of the most important segments of the ancient maritime trade. Whenever possible, stone was transported by sea or inland waterway, so the Mediterranean holds a num ber of shipwrecks with the cargo of semi-finished stone objects. The cargo varies, but most commonly it contains architectural stone elements. There are more than fifty in the Mediterranean. Several shipwrecks with stone cargo were found in the Adriatic. Near cape Izmetiste, pottery of Eastern Mediterranean origin was found next to nine stone blocks (one out of granite, eight out of limestone). The entire cargo is attributed to the Aegean region, dating back to the beginning of the second century. Near the island of Susak (cape Margarine) next to tegulae and imbrices, eleven cut pillars of white marble and a few semi-stone blocks were found. The classic form of tegula and imbrex generally date back to the first centuries after Christ. Thus far we have found three similar sites with sarcophagus cargo on the Adriatic coast. These are the site in front of Great Skolj near the island of Mljet and near the island of Jakljan not far from Dubrovnik. The third one is the recently discovered site with sarcophagi cargo, located near Sutivan on the island of Brač. In late 2008 divers from the Underwater Research Club Mornar from Split made a dive west of Sutivan, on the basis of previous information provided by local divers from Supetar. On that occasion, several sarcophagi were spotted together with covers, some stone blocks and one stone container. In 2009 the Department of Underwater Archaeology of the Croatian Conservation Institute made a record of the site. Immediately after the first professional dive inspection, it was clear that this is indeed an ancient shipwreck with a cargo of sarcophagi and other stone semi products. The site is located at a depth of 32 meters and extends to approximately 40 m2, containing 24 stone objects arranged in two rows, the bottom part being almost completely in sand. Among the found objects there are two full size sarcophagi with lids, two small sarcophagi with lids, one stone container with visible perforations, 13 stone blocks and a column of circular cross section and one small grave stela. The sinking of this ship with its cargo probably occurred in late 2. or beginning of 3. Century AD.

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