17 April 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

1,300-year-old shipwreck found in southwest France

Archeologists in France have discovered the wreck of a ship that navigated the Garonne river in southwestern France in the 7th-8th century.

The French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) revealed the 12-meter (40-foot) boat to the public Wednesday in Villenave-d’Ornon on the banks of the Garonne in southwest France.

The wooden ship was discovered buried beneath the Estey de Lugan, a silted-over creek just outside of Bordeaux. The biological parts of the ship, including some rope fittings, have been preserved for 1,300 years by the thick, water-logged clay.

There is almost no surviving written history chronicling navigation methods from the period, so the survival of this shipwreck is a unique testimonial to naval design in early medieval France.

The wreck is about 40 feet long, out of an estimated original length of about 50 feet when it was intact. The keel and dimensions indicate it was a cargo ship capable of both river and coastal navigation. It has a flat floor that would have allowed it to carry bulk goods. Both oak and softwood were used to construct it.

The foreground of the boat. Photo: Patrick Ernaux, Inrap
The foreground of the boat. Photo: Patrick Ernaux, Inrap

However, the wreck’s beams of oak, chestnut, and pine are delicate enough that air could destroy it. That’s why watering every 30 minutes is necessary to limit the degradation of the wood.

The boat is being taken apart to uncover its true nature and to learn about shipbuilding in the Middle Ages. Piece by piece will be dismantled and numbered. This dismantling will allow for a detailed analysis of the boat’s construction, an important operation to identify the naval architectural tradition to which it is attached.

The wreck’s clearance will provide archaeologists with an unprecedented opportunity to investigate how it was built and how it traversed the rivers. The crew will also be able to do research on the waterways themselves.

Other artifacts were found within the wreckage.

General view of the middle part of the boat. Photo: Patrick Ernaux, Inrap
General view of the middle part of the boat. Photo: Patrick Ernaux, Inrap

Laurent Grimbert, Inrap archaeologist said: “Inside the boat, between the floorboards, between the ribs and the hull, we found some ceramic elements, which correspond to the 7th-8th century, so that s not too bad,” said Laurent Grimbert, Inrap archaeologist.

“Pieces of leather that may have belonged to someone who worked with leather on board the boat and who threw away a scrap, a fragment of a wooden spoon that may have belonged to someone who lived in the boat or who had lunch there,” he added.

Cover Photo: General view of the boat. Photo: Patrick Ernaux, Inrap

INRAP

Related Articles

Rare medieval bone flute unearthed in Kent, southeastern coast of England

22 November 2022

22 November 2022

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology have unearthed a rare medieval bone flute during excavations in Herne Bay, located in Kent, southeastern...

2700-year-old Assyrian carvings found near Mashki Gate destroyed by Isis

20 October 2022

20 October 2022

The U.S. and Iraqi archaeologists have unearthed ancient rock carvings believed to be more than 2,700 years old in Iraq’s...

Medieval Moat and Bridge Discovered Protecting Farmhouse in England

14 March 2024

14 March 2024

Cotswold Archaeology’s excavations in Tewkesbury, a historic riverside town north of Gloucestershire, England, have revealed a medieval moat and bridge...

“Last Rhodes shipwreck” of Roman period found in Turkey’s Fethiye

5 March 2022

5 March 2022

Turkish researchers, a Rhodes shipwreck from the third century A.D. was discovered in the depths of the Gulf of Fethiye...

Peru finds perfectly preserved a wooden figure in the Americas’ largest mud-brick city

29 June 2022

29 June 2022

A perfectly preserved wooden figure has been discovered at the Chan Chan archaeological site, in northern Peru, the Ministry of...

In Fraueninsel in Lake Chiemsee: Romanesque a central building hidden underground for 1,000 years discovered

25 February 2024

25 February 2024

On Fraueninsel, an island in Germany’s Lake Chiemsee, archaeologists discovered a cult site that may have been slumbering underground for...

1,400-year-old coins found in a piggy bank in ancient city of Hadrianopolis

3 January 2024

3 January 2024

Archaeologists unearthed a collection of 10 coins believed to date back nearly 1,400 years, retrieved from what appears to be...

Oldest known arrowheads uncovered in the Americas

24 December 2022

24 December 2022

Archaeologists from Oregon State University have discovered projectile points in Idaho that are thousands of years older than any that...

60-million-year-old Snail Fossil Found in southern Turkey

22 May 2021

22 May 2021

A snail fossil dating to the age of 60 million was found in Mersin’s Toroslar district. The snail fossil discovered...

Bone tools for bleeding cows discovered in a 7,000-year-old cemetery in Sudan

24 March 2023

24 March 2023

During excavations in the Letti basin in northern Sudan, archaeologists have unearthed 7,000-year-old bone tools used to bleed cows. Explorers...

Archaeologists in eastern Newfoundland unearth the oldest English coin ever found in Canada

14 November 2021

14 November 2021

Archaeologists in eastern Newfoundland have unearthed a rare two-penny piece minted between 1493 and 1499 more than 520 years ago....

7500-year-old idol of Goddess Asherah located in Israel

22 May 2022

22 May 2022

Archaeologists excavating an ancient cemetery in Israel have discovered an idol they believe belongs to the goddess Ashera at a...

Rare Five Bronze Age Axes found in the Forests of Poland

5 December 2023

5 December 2023

Archaeologists in Poland have discovered five Bronze Age axes in Starogard Forest District, located in Kociewie. A metal detectorist named...

New Study: Middle Paleolithic Human Diet was More Diverse than Previously Thought

30 November 2023

30 November 2023

In a newly published study, archaeologists from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment at the University of Tübingen...