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Home » Archaeologists uncover remains of Roman harbor near Portorož, Slovenia

Archaeologists uncover remains of Roman harbor near Portorož, Slovenia

Archaeologists from the Institute of Underwater Archaeology (ZAPA) have recently made a captivating discovery – the submerged remnants of a Roman harbor, lying off the coast of Portorož, Slovenia.

Portorož, derived from the Italian “Port of Rose,” reflects the region's rich historical tapestry. Controlled by the Byzantine Empire and later inhabited by Celtic tribes, Portorož became part of the 's domain around 178 BC. Its history intertwines with neighboring Piran, an with roots tracing back to Illyrian times.

This recent revelation joins two previously unearthed Roman sites in the vicinity. The first, unearthed in 1998, revealed traces of a settlement, including a farm building near the site of a modern gas station. The second, submerged beneath the sea since 2004, revealed the foundations of an fish farm, evidenced by two well-preserved pools adjacent to former salt warehouses.

Divers' has now yielded evidence of an ancient harbor, marked by the discovery of masts, following the unearthing of an ancient settlement and fish farm. The Institute for Underwater Archaeology hails the discovery, confirming the existence of a small harbor equipped with mooring facilities and a wooden structure, possibly serving as a breakwater or boat access point to the shore.

Among the discoveries, late antiquity predominates, comprising amphorae, kitchenware, and fine tableware, signaling a vibrant maritime trade network during the Roman era. The unearthed over 3,000 ceramic fragments from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, along with a sail element, numerous wooden stakes, and two distinct mast fragments.

The rarity of ancient masts and sails renders these findings particularly remarkable. Interpretations, drawn from experimental archaeology and historical sources, underscore the significance of these discoveries on a global scale. The masts, crafted from fir and spruce wood, offer unique insights into ancient maritime technology and navigation practices.

Preservation efforts are underway, with wooden artifacts slated for using melamine resin at a specialized restoration facility. Ultimately, all findings will find a home at the Sergej Mašera Maritime Museum in Piran, enriching its collection with artifacts from the Fizine region and beyond.

In the annals of archaeology, these discoveries stand as testament to the enduring allure and mystery of the ancient maritime world, shedding light on centuries-old seafaring traditions and trade routes that once linked distant shores.

Source: Institute of Underwater Archaeology (ZAPA)