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Gallic-Roman ship found in Rhone
August 22th, 2007

A river transport boat dating from the Gallo-Roman time was discovered in Arles on the banks of the Rhone River in the ancient port of the Trinquetaille district by the Department of Underwater Archaeological Research of Marseille (DRASSM).
The boat was found 10 meters under the water and about 0.6 meters below the mud, it measures about 30 meters in lenght and 2.5 width and it is remarkably well preserved
"We took samples from the wood that will undergo carbon 14 testing to establish the exact dating of the found," the department's director Luc Long said underlining that the pottery material found inside the remains has already been dated to 1st or 2nd century."A typical flat-bottomed ship for river transport duty - explains Long - it is a small miracle that this wreck was damaged neither by the propellers of the boats which circulate daily, nor by the multiple jokes of a river which knew many risings".

This kind of boat allowed the carriage of goods, like wine, oil and fish souce, by towing, either by going up the Rhone, or by connecting the seaports to the river ports.
Less than ten wrecks of this type, dating from Roman-Gallic era, would be listed up to now and it is the first time that one so well preserved has been found, and so low in the Rhone.
The national Company of the Rhone (CNR), requested the archeological investigation in parallel to the installation of a new landing stage for big river ships.
Potteries, such as amphoras, found in this sector of the Rhone are a lot because in ancient time was used as dump. "The boat was probably victim of a flood and it was undoubtedly here abandoned thereafter" analyzes Long Luc.

Up to 6 years of work
The boat could carry up to ten men and several tens of tons of goods. The wood of pine and its resin caulking let think that the boat was built in a place close to the site of discovery. It is known that it was in Arles, in 49 BC, that Julius Caesar built twelve galeraes in order to attack Massilia (Marseilles) together with Pompée.
The rest of the "Arles-Rhone 5", so called because of the number of wrecks or fragments of wrecks found, left in the Rhone-native silt is only one temporary solution. CNR and the Department Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur are discussing to finance a complete excavation and its restoration. The cost of the operation is estimated at 1.5 million of euros, the total duration of work with five or six years. The ship could then be added to the collection of the Museum of Arles and Provence antiques, just on other side of the river.

The city of Arles and the Trinquetaille district.
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