This is the second time in just three years that a Roman shipwreck has been found in the Serbian coal mine, which is located near the ruins of a Romanian city.
Ships brought goods to the buried city
Researchers are still awaiting a carbon date, but archaeologist Miomir Koray, who is leading the investigation of the new find, estimates that the ship dates back to the third or fourth century.
The vessel, which in better times was about 20 by 3.5 meters, had a flat bottom. So experts believe it was used to transport goods between Roman trading posts along the Danube.
Just a mile from the colliery are the remains of Viminacium, the capital of the Roman supremacy of Moesia, which included most of what is now Serbia and Kosovo, as well as parts of Albania and North Macedonia.
The city was built a few hundred meters from the Danube tributary Mlava, but then the river moved up to 3 km. So two shipwrecks were found under the sand, not in the water.
The city would have had a population of 40,000, and had aqueducts, an amphitheater, and a sewage system.
The fleet on the Danube was the last defense
In the first decade of our era, Emperor Augustus annexed the land south of the Danube to the Roman Empire.
For example, he wanted to extend the empire’s borders to the river, so that it could form a natural defense against warlike tribes such as the Dacians and Sarmatians, who made life difficult for Roman allies on the south side of the river.
However, the water did not drive the barbarians away, and in AD 70. Emperor Vespasian ordered the river to be guarded after the Sarmatians had killed the governor of the province a year earlier.
In addition, the Romans created a river fleet that constantly patrolled the Danube to hunt down the barbarians. The two ships found in the Drumno mine probably belonged to this flotilla.
Archaeologists believe the newly discovered cargo ship likely brought new troops to Viminacium, while the shipwreck found in 2020 was likely a warship patrolling the Danube River to deter warlike barbarians.
So far, archaeologists have only uncovered about 2% of the provincial capital, which, unlike most Roman ruins, was not buried under later cities.
Viminacium was decimated first by the Huns of Atilla in 441 and then by the nomadic Avars in 582. Although the Avars were later defeated by the Romans, the provincial capital was abandoned around 600 and never inhabited again.
Zombie specialist. Friendly twitter guru. Internet buff. Organizer. Coffee trailblazer. Lifelong problem solver. Certified travel enthusiast. Alcohol geek.