Skip to comments.Bronze Age shipwreck found off Devon coast [UK]
Posted on 02/15/2010 11:05:23 AM PST by SunkenCiv
...Archaeologists have described the vessel, which is thought to date back to around 900BC, as being a "bulk carrier" of its age. The copper and tin would have been used for making bronze -- the primary product of the period which was used in the manufacture of not only weapons, but also tools, jewellery, ornaments and other items. Archaeologists believe the copper -- and possibly the tin -- was being imported into Britain and originated in a number of different countries throughout Europe, rather than from a single source, demonstrating the existence of a complex network of trade routes across the Continent... It is first time tin ingots from this period have ever been found in Britain, a discovery which may support theories that the metal was being mined in the south west at this time. If the tin was not produced in Britain, it is likely it would have also come from the Iberian peninsula or from eastern Germany... In total, 295 artefacts have so far been recovered, weighing a total of more than 84kg. The cargo recovered includes 259 copper ingots and 27 tin ingots. Also found was a bronze leaf sword, two stone artefacts that could have been sling shots, and three gold wrist torcs -- or bracelets... it would have been up to 40ft long and up to 6ft wide, and have been constructed of planks of timber, or a wooden frame with a hide hull. It would have had a crew of around 15 and been powered by paddles... Although the vessel's cargo came from as far afield as southern Europe, it is unlikely it would have been carried all the way in the same craft, but in a series of boats, undertaking short coastal journeys.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
Again with the "short coastal journeys". But regardless, this is a BIG one, folks.
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My recollection is that the UK was an ancient source of tin, not an importer.
That’s correct, most of it from Cornwall (which is right next to Devon). This stuff must have been on its way out.
I thought so, too.
One of my favorite Jacques Cousteau books documented in detail his exploration and excavation of a wreck a lot like this one. Start of my fascination with the sea. ‘Course, he later went enviro-wack, but hey...
Tin was mined in western Britain, and you’re right it has long been suspected that the mines supplied tin for the Mediterranean bronze industry, via Phoenician and later Greek middlemen.
The Phoenicians blockaded the Straits at Gilbrater to prevent other nations from obtaining tin from the UK.
I believe an overland route was eventually established across either France or Spain that bypassed the Phoenician blocade.
The article notes that; but apparently Germany or the Iberian peninsula were producers as well.
Luckily, it's generally possible to determine the source of these metals based on the relative isotope ratios and such. You've got to figure they'll be checking on that, as the results would have significant implications.
I always thought ancient Britain was a source of Bronze Age tin...?
LOL, I am late to this party! Must...read...first...
I was curios about how they came to the conclusion that the boat, “able to carry a huge cargo” was 40” X 6’ with 15 crewmen, since they didn’t find any of the wooden strakes or keel or anything.
That is a very narrow configuration for a bulk cargo transport and would be relatively unstable in seas of any size.
Yeah, that 40” is supposed to be 40 feet I think. :’) Otherwise, this thing was just a glorified canoe, and not very glorified. :’) A cubic yard of water is about 1600 pounds, which won’t help us without the third D. 240 square feet is less than 30 sq yds, it’s not unlikely that a laden ship of this type and size had at least four feet below the waterline, and give or take not being square ended, the vessel thus displaced about 28 tons (+/- a ton).
Run of the mill Roman vessels displaced about 100 tons, which is comparable to colonial clipper ships (without looking it up, this is what I recall from Lionel Casson), although the Romans built some vessels which were much, much larger (moving 300 ton obelisks and whatnot from Egypt required bigger ships). Grain haulers were probably 100+. This particular ship wasn’t mass-produced I’m sure, but ships of this size were probably common.
The ancients would sail the length of a sea using vessels we wouldn’t use to crap over the side, much less take a voyage in. That was the case right up until iron started to be used, making much larger vessels possible.
But Oz never did give nothing to the tin man that he didn't, didn't already have.
So it was kind of small by our standards but it was pretty good by the standards of the time.
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