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Sicilians In Ancient Salcombe

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Author Topic: Sicilians In Ancient Salcombe  (Read 1069 times)
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« on: May 18, 2009, 12:38:55 pm »

                                            Questioning the wrecks of time

They lay on the sea bed, 530km apart, for over 3,000 years. Hundreds of metal objects from Moor Sand, Devon and Langdon Bay, Kent now promise unique insights into the world of bronze age Europe. David Parham, Stuart Needham and Michael Palmer report.

The investigation of prehistoric "shipwrecks" in the United Kingdom (that is, of supposed cargoes rather than ships, which have not yet been found out to sea) dates back to the 1970s and the very early days of British underwater archaeology. It started with a large scatter of bronze artefacts in Langdon Bay, Kent. Then a much smaller group of bronze weapons and tools was found off the south Devon coast at Moor Sand, Salcombe. Remarkably, both collections date from around the 13th century BC.

The way in which these groups of bronzes came to be on the seabed is little understood. They are generally considered to be cargoes from wrecked boats which would be amongst the earliest known such sites in the world but there are other possibilities: they might have resulted from coastal erosion (buried artefacts falling into the sea) or ritual activity (objects deliberately sacrificed to the waves). However, regardless of how they were formed, both assemblages are unique, and contain objects of clear continental types in a coastal location. They thus have great importance for understanding cross-channel connections at the time they were deposited.

The Langdon Bay site was found in 1974 by Dover Sub-Aqua Club, 500m seaward of the famous white cliffs east of Dover Harbour. In May 1978 it was designated a "historic wreck" under the United Kingdom's Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. The British Museum and the National Maritime Museum then led investigations there between 1978 and 1984. Bronze tools, weapons, fittings and ornaments were recovered from 610m of water.
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