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Mazarron II - underwater archaeologists plan to excavate magnificent 2,700-year-old wreck

Published: July 5, 2023 - 13:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 02:43
Mazarron II – underwater archaeologists plan to excavate magnificent 2,700-year-old wreck
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A team of underwater archaeologists from Spain is planning to excavate the wreck of the Phoenician lighter Mazarron II from 2,700 years ago.

The Mazarron II

On several occasions we have already published news about the wreck of the ancient vessel Mazarron II. The approximately 2,700-year-old shipwreck is of particular interest to underwater archaeologists. On the one hand, it is a matter of examining the vessel and, on the other, of effectively preserving it. All because local storms can destroy the priceless wreck at any time.

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examination of Mazarron II shipwreck
Examination of the Mazarron II shipwreck Photo: screenshot from Youtube video

Therefore, the researchers have decided that the only solution in this situation, is to lift it from the bottom and bring it to the surface. The whole structure will then be protected and undergo a long-term conservation process. This will ensure that the remains of the wooden ship are not deteriorated and can be displayed in the museum.

Currently, underwater archaeologists from the University of Valencia are setting the foundations for raising the wreck of the ancient Phoenician lighter.

The 8-metre-long wreck, named the Mazarron II, was discovered by researchers in 1995, and was a very important discovery that has changed the modern understanding of ancient Mediterranean shipbuilding techniques. Remarkably, the wreck was preserved in fantastic condition despite having spent so many years underwater.

Examination of the site

However, the discovery had to wait, as the archaeologists were already busy with the wreck of another vessel they had found nearby some time earlier. They returned to the site where the Mazarron II was discovered in 1999-2001 to fully expose the wreck and secure the cargo. Artifacts excavated included an amphora, a wooden and lead anchor, ropes and lead ingots. The artefacts proved to be priceless from a scientific point of view. This is because they provided researchers with evidence of the presence of Phoenician shipping practices in Spain.

Afterwards, underwater archaeologists left the wreck of the lichtuga on the seabed and its faithful replica was put on display in the museum of underwater archaeology. To ensure that the priceless vessel was not destroyed by storms, a special structure was created to protect the wreck. Unfortunately, it turns out that another action is necessary and the wreck can no longer be protected by the constructed frame. Moreover, when the metal structure slightly settled over time, it almost damaged the wreck it was supposed to protect. That is why, in part, the researchers had to dismantle it.

Unfortunately, the wreck of the Mazarron II is in shallow water and the possibility of storm damage is highly likely. Thus, the Spanish authorities, the local government of the province of Murcia and the University of Valencia are working together to try to save the wreck.

These efforts have resulted in a detailed survey of the site. Archaeologists spent 560 h at the site in June and examined the exact condition of the wreck. All this was done in order to be able to determine how it could be safely raised. Now it is time to develop a precise plan of action and excavate the vessel. If all goes well, the wreck will be raised in the summer of 2024.

It is wiser to save the wreck, secure it and put it on display in a museum so that people can enjoy it instead of worrying every time a storm comes, said Carlos de Juan, an archaeologist from the Institute of Maritime Archaeology at the University of Valencia.

Hopefully, the prepared operation plan will allow the wreck to be safely excavated. It will certainly make a great attraction in the museum, where not only divers will see it.

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About author

Marcin Pawełczyk
Marcin’s journey with diving has been an adventure. Starting as a recreational diver, he soon found himself drawn to the fascinating stories and mysteries of Baltic wrecks. After gaining experience, Marcin decided to go beyond just leisurely exploration and took his training up a notch by completing the TMX course, allowing him to explore even deeper and uncover the secrets of inaccessible places. His next challenge has been cave diving, where he is honing his skills to become a certified diver. Not content to simply take in the breathtaking beauty of underwater life, Marcin has also embraced underwater photography since 2018, capturing stunning shots that bring these worlds alive for those who are unable to experience them first-hand. Marcin’s passion for the underwater has taken him far and is sure to continue doing so as he dives into new depths and captures breathtaking images.
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