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2700-year-old Phoenician shipwreck to be extracted from the seabed in Puerto de Mazarrón

It has finally been decided that the wreck of a  is to be removed from where it has lain since the 7th century BC and will be restored at the Arqua National Underwater Archaeology Museum in Cartagena.

2700-year-old Phoenician shipwreck to be extracted from the seabed in Puerto de Mazarrón
Credit: Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte

This course of action has been decided on by representatives of the local Town Hall, the national and regional governments and the team of archaeologists who have been monitoring the condition of the wreck for the last two years, and at the same time it has been announced that experts from all over the world will be taking part in seminars to determine the exact details of how the remains of the boat can best be removed. 

The Ministry of Culture has also reiterated that following the passage of Storm Gloria in January 2020 urgent work was carried out to protect the site of the wreck and the casing in which it has been preserved in recent years. Following this work, the conclusion reached by a committee in 2019, when it was stated that the wreck could not be removed, has been overridden. 

This is the second Phoenician wreck found at Playa de la Isla – hence the name it has been given, Mazarrón II - and measures 8.15 metres in length and 2.25 metres in width. The boat was built using cypress, pine, olive and fig tree wood, and it was discovered in the 1990s when a storm disturbed the sand on the seabed under which it had previously lain concealed. 

Inside and alongside the boat were part of the cargo it was carrying, objects belonging to the crew and the anchor, which is the oldest of its type yet found and was made of reeds with a nail clamp. 

Ever since the Mazarrón II was found, a decade after the discovery of the Mazarrón I (which is now housed in the Arqua museum), decisions on how to excavate it, or indeed whether to do so at all, have been delayed. The Mazarrón I was in a poor state of repair and the remains were dispersed across the seabed, but the Mazarrón II is virtually intact and was found complete with a cargo of lead ingots weighing 2,820 kilos. It is believed that when it sank approximately 2,700 years ago the boat was either carrying the cargo along the coastline or was meeting a larger vessel in deeper waters to transfer the load.

The town hall of Mazarrón has always maintained that the remains must stay in the municipality and be housed in a museum as a tourist attraction; other bodies however, insist that the facilities of the nearby ARQUA, which already contains the remains of Mazarrón 1, are a better home for the vessel.

Source: Murcia Today [March 12, 2021]

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