The Slovenia Times

Massive floods uncover giant ancient dugout

Acient dugout canoe found on the bank of the Mura River. Photo: institute Skupina Stik
The floods that wreaked havoc across Slovenia in early August have led to the discovery of a giant ancient dugout canoe in the north-east of the country. The 11-metre dugout was found on the bank of the Mura River between the villages of Hrastje-Mota and Vučja Vas. Experts say the vessel could date back to the late bronze and iron ages.

Their assumption is made based on the characteristics of the stern and the dugout's size, which correspond to those of the vessels used in Central and Western Europe in the late Bronze Age and Iron Age, when the transport needs increased due to demographic and economic rise in the early first millennium BC.

The dugout was found in mid-September by Ljubomir Zečević, an expert on the natural and cultural heritage of the Prekmurje region. He immediately informed director of the regional museum, archaeologist Branko Kerman, of the find.

The dugout probably surfaced during the massive floods that hit the country in August.

Zečević, Kerman and a conservator from the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, visited the site to determine that the canoe was dug out of an oak tree with a hand tool.

The find is considered spectacular because of the length of the vessel, measuring more than 11 metres, and an interesting and rare type of stern, ending in a massive vertical plank inserted into a groove.

The experts say that the original location of the vessel is difficult to determine, but it is almost certain that the floods could not have ripped it out of the nearby plains but that the dugout had probably rested in the sediments of the Mura riverbed upstream from the spot where it was found.

Based on the studies of dugouts of comparable size it could be concluded that this one could carry between nine and 14 persons or a corresponding amount of cargo and a two- to three-member crew, the archaeology institute Skupina Stik said in reporting about the find.

The Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage has ordered the dugout to be transferred to a safe location. Several history and archaeology institutions, including the Archaeology Department of the Faculty of Arts from Ljubljana, will join forces to pull out the vessel this weekend.

The dugout will be secured and fastened to a support platform, on which it will be moved downstream along the Mura to a spot from where it can be lifted. It will then be transported to the Murska Sobota Lake, where it will be stored at the bottom of the lake pending a decision on further conservation procedures.


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