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09.07.2015

Parts of Giant Dugout Lifted Out of Ljubljanica

Underwater archaeologists recovered from the bottom of the Ljubljanica river on Tuesday two parts of what is the biggest dugout boat ever found in Slovenia, Matej Draksler of the Underwater Archaeology Institute told the Slovenian Press Agency (STA).

Photo: D. Badovinac/Zavod za podvodno arheologijo

While lifting the boat, archaeologists also found the remains of what they believe is an even bigger Roman boat. While the dugout lifted was some 15 metres long and is considered one of the biggest in Europe, the surprising new find suggests to a 20-30-metre long assembled vessel from the Roman period.

The remains of the second boat were merely documented and will stay put for now.

The 15-metre dugout boat was discovered in the 1980s in the Ljubljanica near Vrhnika just outside Ljubljana and the first underwater examinations were carried out in 2001.

The boat was presumably built between 50 BC and AD 70. Experts will be able to establish the age of the find more specifically upon further examination.

The dugout will be prepared and restored, after which it will be displayed in the newly established adventure exhibition grounds in Vrhnika.

The dugout is broken into three pieces, two of which have already been examined underwater, Draksler explained. The remaining part, which is believed to be best preserved, still lies underwater and will be lifted next week.

Draksler pointed to the importance of the Ljubljanica as cultural landscape, arguing that the river is extremely rich in archaeological finds.

This comes as no surprise, since the river presented an important economic route since prehistoric times, mentioned by the Greek geographer Strabo in his writings.

According to him, a settlement called Nauportus existed in the area of Vrhnika in the Roman times, which served as a station in the Via Gemina road linking Aquileia on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and Emona (the modern Ljubljana).

The Romans would unload the cargo coming on wagons from Aquilea and transport it on boats along the Sava and Danube rivers.

Since the second boat was found near the dugout boat, archaeologists presume the spot was a graveyard of used vessels.

Source: STA