Punic Ship Conservation Work

Following the successful workshop held at the Museo archeologico Lilybaeum Baglio Anselmi in October 2021, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Punic Ship, and also bought together specialists to discuss the future of the ship and its conservation, Pat Tanner (University of Southampton, Centre for Maritime Archeology) specialist in 3D relief and virtual reconstruction of ancient ships, and Toby Jones (Newport Museum and Art Gallery ), curator of the project on the 15th century merchant ship found in the River Usk of Newport (Wales, 2002) began the first steps in conservation intervention. 

The main aim of this phase of work has been to protect the hull of the ship from direct contact with the metal structure that supports the ship remains. In 2018 an assessment was carried out on the current state of conservation of she ship, this was a joint project between ARC-Nucléart, a laboratory mainly dedicated to wet organic archaeological material conservation and research established on the Atomic Energy Centre (CEA) of Grenoble, and the Centre Camille Jullian, a research unit of the Aix Marseille University, the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Ministry of Culture located at the Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme (MMSH) in Aix-en-Provence, in association with the Polo Regionale di Trapani e Marsala per i Siti Culturali – Museo Archeologico Regionale Lilibeo Marsala and the Soprintendenza ai Beni Culturali ad Ambientali di Trapani.

This was followed in 2019 with the 3D Documentation of the ship to undertake digital conservation and archiving. This was a joint project between the Centre Camille Jullian, a research unit of the Aix-en-Provence University, and the Centre for Maritime Archaeology, University of Southampton. The project documented the Marsala Punic ship with a high-resolution three-dimensional scan using the Faro Focus (S-series) 3D laser scanner. The primary goals of the project were to produce a high-resolution digital archive of the Marsala Punic Ship and its associated remains to inform conservators and archaeologists about the ship’s current integrity and future conservation efforts. 

The recent work by Pat Tanner and Toby Jones is the first step in reducing contamination of the archaeological timbers from the steel support structure, in the long term, research is required to design a new support for the vessel. The interim intervention was also featured in the press in Italy, click here to view the article. 

To find out more about the Punic Ship, and to explore a virtual tour of the site, head to the Punic Ship web page.