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The Fiumicino 2 wreck was the first one found in 1958 during the
work on the
Leonardo da Vinci airport at Fiumicino (Rome) on the site of the
harbour basin built in 42 AD by the emperor Claudius.
The hull was salvaged in 1959 and sheltered under a span of the
Rome-Fiumicino motorway. Here it was unfortunately subject to
vandalism: some pieces of the structure being removed for firewood.
After the conservation process made with a mixture of resins and
some restorations with modern pieces of wood, the hull was exhibited
in 1979 in the Museum of the Roman Ships.
Fiumicino 2 is a flat bottomed ship which is very similar to the
Fiumicino 1 wreck.
The hull bottom of Fiumicino 2 is conserved from stern to stem
for a length
of 13,94 m and for a width of 4,5 m. The maximum height conserved
starboard side is 0,85 m while the port side is broken above the
planking is heavily damaged and the transversal woodwork has been
The hull remains
The keel is formed by two pieces connected with a scarf. The type
of the scarf is not known because of the modern restorations.
The sterngripe has a rectangular section (14 cm wide and 22 cm
high) and two rabbets to fit in the garboards and the end of the
other planks with iron nails.
The keel, a single piece 11,32 m long, starts with a rectangular
section (17 cm high, 13,5 cm wide), it then becomes an overturned
trapezium (13,4 cm high, 11 cm wide). The sides are straight and
not moulded for connection with the garboards.
The ship is single planked and carvel built.
The garboards are formed by two elements both on the starboard
port side (27 cm wide and 5,5 cm). The scarfs between these two
not original but there are two modern repairs.
The assembly of the garboards with the middle body of the keel
is made by mortise-and-tenon joints. The tenons are, as usual,
There are 42 other planks. If we consider the transversal section
central body of the ship, there are 9 stakes on the starboard
side and 4
on the port side. The starboard planks have decreasing lengths
knee (from a high of 8,92 to a low of 7,27 m), while they are
(more than 5.5 cm).
These planks, wide on average 35 cm, are sharpened
aft-and-forwards are joined to narrower and thinner planks by
tenon joints and iron nails driven into the board edges. In this
manner it was
possible to close the hull shape at the ends.
This structure of the planking is very similar to the Fiumicino
1 one but is of
Contrary to Fiumicino 1, the structure of this wreck (planking
keel) seems not to have been repaired in ancient times, because
of the homogeneity of the mortise-and-tenon joints with the pegged
tenons. Few unpegged tenons are present at the end of the middle
body planks in correspondence with the longitudinal joints.
The distance between pegs fixing the tenons is irregular and measures
on average 42,3 cm. The tenons (5/7,8 cm wide and 1 cm thick)
are smaller than the mortises into which they are inserted (6.5/10
cm wide, 1,1/2 cm thick and 4,8/5 cm deep) and both mortises and
tenons are tapered. The pegs are lightly
troncoconical and seem to have been driven from the inside of
In the interior of the hull, there are 35 frames connected to the planking with
iron nails (squared shaft of 1/1,3 cm; head diameter 4/5 cm) driven through
pre-inserted treenails (1,2/1,5 cm). The average distance between floor timbers
and half frame is 24,5 cm.
Actually, three floor timbers are connected to the keel with iron bolts similar
to big nails driven in from the bottom of the keel (diameter 2,2/2,4 cm). It
is possible that other bolts are now hidden by modern restorations.
The types of wood
The types of wood used in the structure have been identified as stone pine
(Pinus pinea) and oak (Quercus sp.) for the planking, the keel
and the frame. The holm (Quercus ilex) and the ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
were used for the tenons and pegs while willow (Salix sp.) was used for
the pre-inserted treenails connecting frame to planking.
Interpretation of the hull remains
In brief, the Fiumicino 2 wreck has technological characteristics
which are very
similar to the Fiumicino 1 ones. These are:
- the structure of the longitudinal carpentry (planking and keel);
- the structure of the transversal carpentry (frame);
- the joints (mortise-and-tenons, iron nails in the board edges,
iron nails into pre-inserted treenails, iron bolts).
For these reasons, Fiumicino 2 seems to be the same type of ship
as Fiumicino 1 but larger in size.
The technological features together with the assumption that Fiumicino
Fiumicino 2 are "sister ships", leads us to other conclusions
1. the date of the ship;
2. the principle and methods of construction;
3. the type of ship.
The dating of Fiumicino 2 is still uncertain. The result of
is imprecise (130 ± 50 AD). The late date of the ship, in absence
associated material, seems confirmed from:
The high distance between mortise-and-tenon joints. Similar
are present on the IV century AD wrecks of the County Hall, Yassi
Dramont E and on the V cent. AD wreck Dramont F.
The shape and size of the mortise-and-tenon joints are similar
to those of
the Yassi Ada II.
The widespread use of iron (nails driven through pre-inserted
fasten the frame to the planking.
Principles and methods of construction
The principle of construction is shell-first because of the
homogeneity of the planking while the floor timbers bolted to
probably are connected to "skeleton-first" construction
Type of ship
The type of ship is the same proposed for Fiumicino 1, even
the keelson to support a towing mast is not present. The general
structure of the
hull, with the curved stern and the elongated stem lead us believe
Fiumicino 2 could be a caudicaria navis too.
The family of the caudicariae naves - towed boats utilised on
the Tiber river
up the city of Rome - is known not only from ancient sources (Sen.,
Vitae,XIII, 4; Varr. and Sall. apud Nonnius s.v.;
Isid., Etym. sive Orig.,
XIX, I, 27), but also from several pictorial representations dating
II to the IV century AD, such as the Vaticano fresco, the Piazzale
Corporazioni mosaic, the Museo Nazionale Romano and the Salerno
Distinctive elements of the family are: the rounded hull at stern,
elongated stem typical of river barges, the advanced towing mast
the absence of sails, the tow line fastened to a bollard on the
towing posts or a little support at the gunwale, the lateral rudder,
and a stern cabin.
Finally, Fiumicino 2 was towed from the right bank by beats as
is reported by
Procopius (Bell. Goth., V, XXVI), a practice used on the
Tiber until the