Illyrian ships discovered in Bosnia

March 24, 2007

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SARAJEVO: Illyrian ships believed to date back more than 2,000 years have been discovered for the first time at a marshland in southern Bosnia, local archaeologists said on Friday.

The wooden relics of the two ships were located some eight meters under water at the Hutovo Blato nature reserve, said Sarajevo University professor Snjezana Vasilj, whose team made the find.

They are believed to have been trading or pirate ships that sank in the marshlands some 2,200 years ago, and were identified as Illyrian based on design features, Vasilj said.

Illyrian ships are mentioned in Greek and Roman historic records, but this is the first time they have been found, she said.

At the site, archaeologists found fragments of numerous amphoras and lids bearing Roman and Greek emblems, as well as a Roman spear and remains of an ancient Roman settlement.

They also uncovered seven graves at a nearby site believed to date from the Bronze or Iron Age.

Vasilj said her team had protected the ships' remains using a special plastic cover until more funds could be found in order to enable the research to continue.-—AFP