There and Back Again. The Wreck Portiței A. Interdisciplinary Research on a Roman Merchant Ship and Empties Transporter off the Black Sea Coast of Romania

Max Fiederling

Max Fiederling´s PhD project focuses on the archaeological analysis of the Roman shipwreck Portiței A, which was researched from March 2016 until 2018 as part of a cooperation project between the Bavarian Society for Underwater Archeology and the Institutul de Cercetări Eco-Muzeale Tulcea.

Analysing the shipbuilding technique and studying the cargo of the wreck are the primary goals of this project. Further goals included tracing back the origin of the ship, its last route as well as reconstructing the average.

The wreck site is of outstanding archaeological importance, due to its exceptional preservation status.

In contrast to previous, spectacular discoveries of antique wreck sites in the Black Sea, which were located during research campaigns of Robert Ballard and the MAP project, the wreck of Portiței A lies in shallow waters.

Due to its positioning, the researchers were able to fully prospect the wreck site with non-invasive digital methods and also to excavate parts of the wreck to gain more detailed knowledge as well as taking samples for further scientific analyses. The aim is to further our knowledge of region-specific shipbuilding techniques, Roman trade routes as well as economic interchange in the Black Sea at the time.

A further focus of the research lies on objects which have not always received the researcher’s attention such as ballast material, microscopical botanical remains as well as faunal remains.

The mid-size Roman merchant ship was identified as one of the first in situ preserved empties transporters of its time, which raises further questions about the trade network and the economic structures in the Roman period in this specific region.

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