The Slovenia Times

Giant Mura dugout way more recent than initially thought

Analysis show a dugout canoe found on the Mura in September is much more recent than initially thought. Photo: Vida Toš/STA

A giant dugout canoe that was washed up on one of the banks of the Mura River in the northeast of the country in early September and hailed by experts as an exceptional find dating back to pre-history has now turned out to be far more recent.

"The dugout dates back to the 16th century and is not prehistoric as we first presumed, which is fairly surprising," Andrej Gaspari, an archaeologist specialising in underwater archaeology and ancient shipbuilding, told the Slovenian Press Agency.

The age of the 11-metre dugout was established based on analysis of the moss and wood conducted in the Beta Analytic lab in Miami, Florida, with Gaspari commenting on the development by saying that it proved just how little certain technical solutions used in simple wooden devices changed through history.

"We've established that this is a type of dugout or float typical of the Pannonian Basin and parts of Ukraine as made between the 14th and 16th centuries," the archaeologist said, adding that the dugout was very likely an external float of a floating mill.

The dugout was discovered by Ljubomir Zečević, a connoisseur of the natural and cultural heritage of the Prekmurje region. He informed the director of the regional museum of the find, who then turned to the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

They found the dugout was made from an oak tree with hand tools. It also features a rare type of stern, ending in a massive vertical plank inserted into a groove.

The canoe was then transported to Murska Sobota Lake where it was protected with felt and stored at the bottom of the lake at a depth of around ten metres.

Before re-submersion, samples of wood and moss were taken from the canoe and sent to analyses in the US, which show their age with a 30-year margin of error, Gaspari said. They date it to the 2nd half of the 16th century.

Certain analyses are yet to be conducted of the wood that the bungs to seal off the bottom of the dugout were made of and of the materials used to carry out repairs - most likely resin or wax mixed with ashes.

Monitoring dives will be conducted every three months before the experts decide how to preserve the dugout and where to put it on display. The team will monitor what is happening to it and take appropriate conservation measures should any changes occur, Gaspari said.


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