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International Archaeological Reports since 1974

COMING SOON: The Mortella III Wreck: a Spotlight on Mediterranean Shipbuilding of the 16th Century

Arnaud Cazenave de la Roche
Publication Year:
173 pages, With additional material online (Annex 1 and 2)
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During the Renaissance period, Mediterranean shipbuilding - particularly Italian - was renowned for its quality. But it is largely unknown today due to the scarcity of written sources and the lack of archaeological documentation. The discovery of the Mortella wrecks in Saint-Florent, Corsica, in 2005-2006, and the excavation of one of them between 2010 and 2019 (Mortella III from the 16th century) helps to fill these gaps. The main objective of this archaeological study is to identify ‘technical fingerprints’ and ‘architectural traits’ that could contribute to understanding the Mediterranean shipbuilding model from the early modern period, and more specifically the Italian one. The analysis is based on comparisons with archaeological data from other wrecks of the period as well as written sources. Finally, literature research allows us to link the Mortella wrecks to their history, that of Genoese ‘navis’ sunk during the Italian wars of 1527, complementing the archaeological study with historical research.

Arnaud Cazenave de la Roche is a researcher at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) with a research grant from Marie Sklodowsca-Curie Actions (Horizon 2020 EU Programme). He has been studying naval architecture from the Renaissance and modern periods for several years. He is an associate member of the Laboratoire d'Histoire et d'Archéologie Maritimes (FED 4124) at the University of Paris-Sorbonne where he defended his doctoral thesis.

‘The quality of both archaeological and historical data is excellent.’ Prof. Sylviane Llinares, Université Bretagne Sud

‘Le travail présenté par Arnaud Cazenave de la Roche est vraiment original.’ Dr David Plouviez, Université de Nantes