Date Posted: 11/01/2022

The retired director of the National Museum of Underwater Archeology of Cartagena fears for the future of the wreck

According to the retired director of the National Museum of Underwater Archeology of Cartagena, the 2,700-year-old Phoenician ship Mazarron II, which has rested on the seabed of Mazarron Bay since the 7th century, could be lost forever due to errors in its protection. Ivan Negueruela.

In a recent interview, he warned that “the oldest preserved ship in the world could disappear as a result of a DANA (kind of cold) or a hurricane”.

In 2016, there were plans to bring the ship to the surface for display, and since then a series of studies have looked at the options available to find the most appropriate method to preserve the ship and make it available. for public viewing.

At the time, the decision was made to leave the vessel on the seabed with a protective metallic coating, and although the vessel had undergone periodic inspections, according to Negueruela, the Mazarron II “now rests on the bottom. from the sea, surrounded by the walls of the box, but without lids “.

“Moreover, the last two expeditions show that even the sleepers they were standing on before are still not there,” he told El Pais, adding: “Between the ship and the steel roof we have put sand, which is the best protector, the one that preserved it for 2,700 years.

“In 2000, we opened it to search it and take out the objects it contained. I said that it had to be extracted in its entirety, but the ministry only offered 500,000 pesetas (3,000 euros). , so we left it until better times ”.

In 2008, the box was opened again, but not properly closed after shipping, Negueruela claims.

“They left the plates that protected it without the padlocks that prevented it from moving in the event of a storm. The government of the Region of Murcia, which was responsible for this, did not send quarterly inspections to verify that everything was fine, and already 80 sandbags have been broken. “

The former museum director, who retired in October 2021, remembers when he learned the wreck had been located.

“It was complete, from bow to stern, and sealed with a kind of carpet of dead seaweed. It was ideal for archaeologists and looked like Tutankhamun’s tomb that Howard Carter found sealed.

“Pieces of the ship’s wood and seaweed were sent to Holland and dated between 630 and 600 BC” and sawn into pieces “.

“I wrote to the minister at the time, José Guirao, who reacted immediately and prevented him,” recalls Negueruela, who now wants to see efforts made so that the wreck does not deteriorate and is not lost forever.

In 2019, a project was put forward to remove the boat by dismantling the structure, but no company submitted bids to undertake the project.

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