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Archaeologists in Serbia examine river ship uncovered at ancient Roman city of Viminacium

The remains of what archaeologists think is Roman river boat were uncovered at a coal mine in Serbia
The remains of what archaeologists think is Roman river boat were uncovered at a coal mine in Serbia Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Euronews
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Archaeologists in Serbia are examining the remains of what they say is a 13-metre-long river ship at the site of the Roman camp known as Viminacium, the capital of the ancient province of Moesia Superior.


It is not the first time coal miners have found ancient remnants of former life at the site of the former Roman camp and city, which lies 144km (90 miles) southeast of the Serbian capital Belgrade. 

"Here it is very difficult to find organic material, especially when it is not in water, but we were lucky enough to find preserved vessels in the field, at a depth of seven meters," explained Ilija Dankovic, an archaeologist at the camp.

"It was not found in its entirety, it was damaged a lot, but the wood is good, the wood is in good condition. It looks really great," added his colleague Dragana Gavrilovic.

Experts who have been studying the area for years have now transferred what remains of the ship to the archaeological camp, where further research continues.

"We moved it and buried it in sand so that the wood would not dry out," explained Gavrilovic, "because wood is one of the most delicate materials, and if it dries out it will fall apart, so in this way we actually preserve the wood."

For now, it is not known from exactly which period the ship dates from. Similar vessels were found three years ago, and experience shows that shipbuilding techniques in the region have not changed for centuries.

For that reason, experts say the ship could be from the Roman period – or even from the last century.

"The samples were sent last week to the laboratory in Hungary, and in a few months' time we expect to receive the results and then there will be no more doubts," said Ilija Dankovic,

In order to explore the ship further, the team is in need of time and money.

The archaeologists say they will apply for funding from the Ministry of Culture in Serbia, and visitors will be able to see it only when a museum is built for all the ships and boats that have been found on this stretch of the River Danube.

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