The second category of activities is the most extensive of all. It consists of nine case studies (objectives) from different periods and with different goals, contributing to the common objective of the reconstruction of the evolution line of the cognitive and practical processes of the Adriatic shipbuilding and seafaring.
The first proposed set of activities deals with the complex problem of the Pre-Roman seafaring in the Adriatic, and the related indigenous ships like lembos and libournika (liburnica, liburna). As already argued by Džino (2003), the lembos and libournika belonged to distinct geographical regions, ethnic identities, and nautical traditions, and should be treated as different ships.
Prehistoric tradition in Roman times
The second set of activities deals with the surviving Pre-Roman shipbuilding tradition in Roman times. The consistent group of sewn/laced boats (planking joined by means of sewing/lacing) found in Liburnian territory (gulf of Zaton near Nin, bay of Caska on the island of Pag) confirm the information from the ancient writers about the specific type of the vessels, named serilia, used by the inhabitants of Histria and Liburnia in the Early Imperial Roman time, indicating that some prehistoric traditions survived into the Roman period.
The third set of activities is directed towards the examination of selected sites from Classical Antiquity, mainly from Roman period. The four main selected sites will become objects of various studies regarding the particularities of their hulls or cargos. Considering the fact that they all belong to the 1st c. AD, it will be interesting to record and study their different structural and functional features.
During the systematic research in the bay of Caska on the island of Pag, another ship, Caska 2, built with the ‘mortise and tenon joints’ technique was recently discovered, providing the opportunity for comparative studies on changing shipbuilding techniques. Planking joined by ‘mortise and tenon joints’ is the main characteristic of Late Greek and Roman shipbuilding. It demonstrates that the concept of ‘shell based’ structure, where the shell/hull of the ship provides the strength to the ship’s structure, still dominated Mediterranean shipbuilding.
The ship Trstenik 1, dating from the same period as Caska 2, but conceptually very different, represents an outstanding occasion to study the variety in contemporary ship types, and the adaptation of the hull to the original environment and function. The site of Trstenik lies in the immediate vicinity of ancient Salona, the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. The prosperity of the nearby Roman villa where the ship was sunk was based on the exploitation of the sea’s resources.
The cognitive sequence of the classical Roman shipbuilding process is not easy to reconstruct, as there are no written sources that could help us in understanding the conception of the ship’s form. The ship’s frames raised from the Plavac shipwreck about four decades ago represent absolutely unique study material, without analogy in the Mediterranean world. The timbers are marked with carpenter’s marks representing the Roman numerals.
The large Roman merchantman sunk near the cape of Glavat is the only ship in the Croatian undersea that carried an interesting cargo composed of raw materials. The site was rescued at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of 1990s, but never comprehensively studied.
The excavation and conservation of the two mediaeval boats from Nin figures today as Croatia’s only entirely realized project in the field of nautical archaeology in the 20th century. The two finds are currently the only mediaeval hulls preserved in Croatia. Unfortunately, the original documentation has been lost, and the finds in the Museum of Nin Antiquities are in decay. Through the accurate re-examination of the available evidence, we plan to reattempt the reconstruction of the hull lines.
Early Modern Age
The final period of wooden shipbuilding in the AdriaS project are the cases of the late sixteenth century merchantmen. The first one, named Gagliana Grossa, sunk during the trip from Venice to Constantinople, near the islet of Gnalić in the area of Zadar, in 1583.
The ship S. Girolamo, that sunk in 1576 in front of the bay of Suđurađ at the island of Šipan will also become the object of systematic research at the international level. It will be an outstanding opportunity to compare ships from different periods belonging to owners from the two main Adriatic powers at the time – the Republic of Venice, and the Republic of Dubrovnik.
Suđurađ (S. Girolamo, 1576)