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The Fiumicino 4 wreck was found in 1965 during work on Leonardo
airport at Fiumicino (Rome) on the site of the ancient harbour
basin built in
42 AD by the emperor Claudius.
This hull was salvaged in 1968 in very good condition. After a
conservation process made with a mixture of resins, it was exhibited
in the Museum of the Roman Ships.
The hull of Fiumicino 4 is characterised by a very elegant shape
concave-convex section typical of maritime ships.
The vessel is conserved for a length of 7.96 m and for a maximum
width of 2,79 m. The starboard side is preserved for a maximum
height of 77 cm while the port side is broken along the knee.
The hull remains
The keel is joined to the stern-and-stemgripes by hook scarfs.
These are partially restored because the butts of the keel have
been replaced with two modern pieces of wood.
The stern-and-stemgripes have rectangular sections (6/6,5 cm wide
cm high) with two rabbets to fit the garboards in place (made
with a single
plank) and the end of the other strakes. The connection is made
tenons and iron nails.
The planking is single and carvel built.
There are a total of 39 planks, of which there are 23 on the starboard
side and 17 on the port side. The average thickness is 2,5 cm,
while the lengths go from a high of 7,58 to a low of 4,30 m and
the widths fall between 17 and 7,7 cm.
The assembly of the strakes is made by mortise-and-tenon joints
average spacing between pegs fixing tenons is 27,2 cm. The tenons
than the mortises into which they are inserted (5,2/6,8 cm wide,
deep and 0,55/0,9 cm thick) and both mortises and tenons are tapered.
treenails are lightly troncoconical (0,8/0,95 cm and seem to have
in from the interior of the hull.
The planks are extended longitudinally by Z-scarfs.
Fiumicino 4 also possesses 22 frames. Their average distance is
25 cm and the
cross section is rectangular, squared or rhomboidal because of
the deformation of the wood.
The floor timbers towards stern and stem are larger and higher
others which have widths between 6 and 4 cm and heights of 5,5/3
frames are fastened to the planking by wooden treenails (diameter
1,3/1,5 cm). In addition, the starboard side conserves 5 futtocks
only butted to the floor
In the interior, the hull presents some elements of the longitudinal
woodwork, such as stringers and ceiling. These are deformed and
not in the
original position because they shifted after the salvaging of
The mast area
The mast step (1,17 m long, 14,6 cm wide and 12 cm high) is set
the keel and has a rectangular recess with a slide to lower the
Aftwards, there is also another recess to insert a stanchion to
The mast step is situated side by side with two lateral posts
aftwards, there are two semicircular recesses in which the bilge
conserved) would have been fitted.
Types of wood
The types of wood used in the structure of the ship have been identified as holm
(Quercus ilex) for the keel, oak (Quercus sp.) for the stern-and-stemgripes,
cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) for the planking. The oak, the holm, the
walnut (Juglans regia) and the stone pine (Pinus pinea) were used
for the frame. Many different types of wood were used for the ceiling while the
mast step is made of stone pine. The holm was used for tenons while the olive
tree (Olea europaea), the willow (Salix sp.), the cypress, the black
pine (Pinus cf. nigra) were used for the pegs. The olive tree was used
for the treenails connecting frame to planking.
Interpretation of the hull remains
The dating of Fiumicino 4 is still uncertain. The results of C14
imprecise (170 ± 50 AD) an very different if compared with the
date given by
the associated material (II-III cent. AD).
The construction principle of Fiumicino 4 is shell-first because
homogeneity of the mortise-and-tenon joints, the weakness of the
the absence of connection between these and the keel.
Fiumicino 4 was a cargo ship used in coastal trade or a fishing ship. The propulsion
systen consisted of a single squared sail supported by a mast set slightly forward
in the ship.