Chiselled lava-glass found on Stone Age wreck

A diver hovers over the obsidian core (Naples Superintendency for Archaeology, Fine Arts & Landscape)
A diver hovers over the obsidian core (Naples Superintendency for Archaeology, Fine Arts & Landscape)

An 8kg block of chiselled obsidian has been recovered from a newly discovered Stone Age shipwreck site near the White Grotto on the Italian island of Capri.

The presence of the wreck had been reported in October by the Naples Police underwater unit, though it did not disclose the exact location. Now the Naples Superintendency of Archaeology, Fine Arts & Landscape has worked with the police divers to recover what they describe as the first of a set of these obsidian cores, on 20 November.

The police divers at work at the wreck site (Naples Superintendency for Archaeology, Fine Arts & Landscape)
Police divers at work at the site (Naples Superintendency for Archaeology, Fine Arts & Landscape)

The wreck-site is described as Neolithic, which means that it would be at least 4,000 but possibly more than 6,000 years old.

Obsidian is the most common form of natural glass – dense and black, it is found in cooled volcanic lava. Fractured into sharp-edged shards, it was used in ancient times to make tools and weapons such as blades and spear- or arrowheads. 

The wreck-site lies between 30 and 40+ metres (Naples Superintendency for Archaeology, Fine Arts & Landscape)
The wreck-site lies more than 30m deep (Naples Superintendency for Archaeology, Fine Arts & Landscape)

The recovered core, said to bear clear traces of chiselling, measures 28 x 20cm and 15cm high. It has been sent for removal of marine concretion and conservation. 

Remains of the ship’s cargo have now been found to be dispersed over a wider area than originally thought, at depths between 30 and 40+ metres. An extensive survey of the seabed area is to be carried out to determine whether anything remains of the ship’s hull or other items of cargo.

An archaeologist examines the recovered core (Naples Superintendency for Archaeology, Fine Arts & Landscape)
An archaeologist examines the recovered core (Naples Superintendency for Archaeology, Fine Arts & Landscape)

Superintendent Mariano Nuzzo described the diving conditions as “particularly difficult” because of the depths involved, and praised the police divers for their expertise.

Further recoveries are to be be carried out in collaboration with the National Superintendency for Underwater Cultural Heritage.

Also on Divernet: Divers uncover Stone Age road in Croatia, IoW find alters Stone Age perceptions, Divers find ‘evil-eye' disc – and village of 100000 spikes, Divers with a stake in the past, Divers backdate ancient mini-islands

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