An archaeologist looks at parts of a wooden Roman ship dated to the 3rd century AD, at the ancient city of Viminacium, near Kostolac, Serbia, May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Marko DjuricaREUTERS
BELGRADE (REUTERS) - AS the sun sank over a vast opencast coal mine in eastern Serbia earlier this month, a small crane eased the front half of a Roman ship from the steep sides of the pit.
An excavator cutting through the coal rich soil had pulled out some muddy timber weeks before, but coronavirus restrictions had meant the retrieval had to wait.
The ship was part of Viminacium, a sprawling Roman city of 45,000 people with a hippodrome, fortifications, a forum, palace, temples, amphitheatre, aqueducts, baths and workshops.
Lead archaeologist Miomir Korac said the vessel dated from the 3rd century AD when Viminacium was the capital of the Roman province of Moesia Superior and near a tributary of the Danube river.
"A Roman (river) fleet was based here to defend this region from barbarian invasions," he told Reuters. "Such findings of Roman ships are really rare, especially in such a good condition where one could see how the boat was built."
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