During a storm in 1583, a large ship loaded with cargo from Venice and headed to Constantinople sank off near Biograd, Croatia. Amateur divers discovered the remains at a depth of about 80 feet (25 meters). Found in the 1960s, the wreck is currently being investigated by a joint team from the University of Zadar and Texas A&M University, under the direction of Dr. Irena Radi-Rossi and Prof. Filipe Castro.

David Bouman MA joined the excavation team as researcher and diver in the summer of 2013. From the archival records in Venice it was discovered that some of the cargo on board of this merchantman was traded by Dutch merchants: the Helman brothers. David Bouman was asked to do research on these Dutch traders. He did so and wrote an article about these traders [1].

For the summer of 2014 David has been invited to join this fascinating project again.

The cargo
It was soon realized that the wreck was a late 16th-century merchantman, which had sunk with its cargo intact. The most numerous amongst the goods being transported were items of glass, and even though only a relatively small area of the wreck has been completely excavated, over 5,500 vessels, windows and mirror plates have been recovered. As such it is the largest assemblage of post-Roman glass to have ever been recovered from a single context.
Most popular find are the nine bronze cannons – two of which were dated 1582, great numbers of brass chandeliers from Lubeck in North Germany, sheets of brass, coils of brass wire, tin bars, bell-shaped cinnabar and very expensive and colored purple most likely from Lucca, Italy. Besides the mentioned items, the cargo consisted of numerous items for daily use: thimbles, sewing needles, pins, razors, glass, scissors, various wether-bells, two precision scales… Most of the cargo, however, consisted of raw materials and semi-manufactured products.

Lidded tankard (left), diamond engraved bowl (centre) and mould-blown goblet (right)

A chest was found on the shipwreck, containing berets, shirts, over 50 m of silk cloth (!), and two scales with weights in their boxes.

Part of the exposed wooden beams of the wreck.

Barrels are an interesting subject because the study of their dimensions may yield new clues for the study of 16th century metrology.

References:
[1] Bouman, D.M., The Helman family: wealthy Netherlandish traders in 16th century Venice, August 2013.