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Capo Corso 2 – fantastic ancient shipwreck from 2,000 years ago full of glass artefacts

Published: July 20, 2023 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 02:54
Capo Corso 2 – fantastic ancient shipwreck from 2,000 years ago full of glass artefacts
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A joint team of Italian and French underwater archaeologists has uncovered magnificent glass artefacts at the Capo Corso 2 site, where the shipwreck of an ancient Roman vessel from 2,000 years ago was found.

Artefacts of Capo Corso 2

In the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, between the islands of Capraia and Corsica, underwater archaeologists have found magnificent glass artefacts during excavations on the ancient Roman shipwreck called Capo Corso 2 discovered in 2012. The operations, performed from 1 to 8 July in the border waters between France and Italy at a depth of 350 metres, were carried out using a new prototype of the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Arthur, which is dedicated to archaeological operations.

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Capo Corso 2
Archaeologists with recovered glass artefacts Photo: Manuel AÑÒ/ProdAqua_DRASSM


The numerous ancient blown-glass artefacts are a real surprise that no one expected. The retrieved items are intact and, despite 2,000 years at the bottom of the sea, have been preserved in perfect condition. Locating them buried in the bottom sediments was possible thanks to a special light beam emitted by the Arthur ROV.

Joint expedition

The field operations at the site were carried out as part of a joint mission by a combined team of Italian and French maritime archaeologists. According to the information provided by the researchers, Capo Corso 2 is a Roman vessel dating back to the turn of the first and second centuries AD. The archaeologists base their conclusions on the analysis of excavated objects.

underwater archaeologists during expedition
Archaeologists during expedition, Photo: ManuelAñò/ProdAqua_DRASSM 


We are dealing with the wreck of a Roman ship with a cargo consisting almost entirely of glass, transported both in its raw state, in the form of several tonnes of raw blocks of various sizes, and processed, in the form of thousands of artifacts of blown table glass. The vessel probably came from a port in the Middle East, possibly Lebanon or Syria, and was heading towards the French coast of Provence, explained Barbara Davidde of the National Superintendence for Underwater Cultural Heritage.

Archaeologists gathered on board of the research vessel waited in great excitement to see the results of the efforts made using the Arthur ROV. There was great excitement when the glass object was first lifted from the bottom and placed using a special mechanical arm into a container, which was then brought to the surface.

ROV on Capo Corso 2,
ROV on Capo Corso 2, Photo: M.Añò-V.Creuze-D.Degez_SN_SUB_DRASSM


Arthur ROV

For deep-sea research, the French Department of Underwater and Submarine Archaeological Research (DRASSM) provided its flagship research vessel Alfred Merlin. The vessel carries two ROVs, Arthur and Hilarion. The Arthur is a high-tech prototype ROV designed and developed in collaboration with DRASSM by Professor Vincent Creuze of the University of Montpellier-LIRM.

Arthur is one of the smallest and lightest in its class and can reach depths of 2,500 metres. The vehicle allows high-resolution video documentation as well as bottom search and object recovery.

Excavated artefacts on board
Archaeologists examine the excavated artefacts, Photo: ManuelAñò/ProdAqua_SN_SUB_DRASSM


So far, various glass objects have been recovered from the Capo Corso 2 wreck: bottles, plates and cups, as well as two bronze bowls and several amphorae. All the archaeological material will go to the National Superintendency laboratory in Taranto, where it will be carefully examined and preserved. Detailed examinations may provide further information about the age of the ship and its origin, as well as the route it took on its last voyage.

Ancient glass artefacts
Glass artefacts recovered from the Capo Corso 2 shipwreck, Photo: ManuelAñò-ProdAqua_SN_SUB_DRASSM


The French and Italian underwater archaeologists’ efforts  at Capo Corso 2 site are the first such expedition carried out as part of the agreement from 2022. Let’s hope that the following activities will be as fruitful and will provide even more great discoveries.

Head Photo: M.Añò-V.Creuze-D.Degez_SN_SUB_DRASSM

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Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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