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Rare 400-Year-Old Trumpets Found on Shipwreck in Croatia

Archaeologists have unearthed a 16th-century shipwreck in Croatia, finding several brass trumpets. Photos show the cargo is very rare and expensive.

Photo from the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar

Beneath the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea lay the remains of a 400-year-old shipwreck. Currents had eroded its structure. The passing centuries had stripped it of its identity.

However, as archaeologists recently discovered, the ship’s extremely rare and expensive cargo survived.

Scuba diving archaeologists recently returned to excavation work at a 16th-century shipwreck off the coast of Premantura, Croatia, the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar reported in a July 2 press release.

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Previous work at the site led to the discovery of iron ship guns and various fragments of pottery.

This year, archaeologists unearthed a much more valuable cargo: a large number of brass trumpets, the center said. These musical instruments were considered very rare and expensive at the time of the ship’s sinking.

An archaeologist holds a fragment of a 400-year-old trumpet found near the wreck. Photo from the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar

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One of the best-preserved trumpets bore the inscription “LVGDVNY BATAVORVM,” the Latin name for the modern city of Leiden in the Netherlands, the center wrote in a Facebook post. A photo shows the inscription, which appears to be a fragment of the trumpet’s bell.

One of the best preserved trumpets found at a shipwreck. The brass artifact is inscribed “LVGDVNY BATAVORVM”, the Latin name for Leiden in the Netherlands. Photo from the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar

Archaeologists said the 400-year-old trumpets were made in Leiden and Strasbourg, France. The discovery surprised researchers because no similar trumpets have survived from either city.

Archaeologists excavate 400-year-old shipwreck. Photo from the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar

Based on its preserved cargo, archaeologists believe the wooden ship sailed between present-day Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands before it sank in a sudden storm.

The original name of the ship remains unknown, but archaeologists suspect it is a Dutch vessel.

One of the pottery fragments found at the shipwreck. Photo from the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar

The photos show a 400-year-old shipwreck. Its cargo also included a bright red bowl and other silvery pottery fragments, the photos show.

Archaeologists plan to continue excavating the shipwreck and analyzing its artifacts. They hope to find more ship equipment, such as ropes or pulley systems.

Another pottery fragment found at a shipwreck. Photo from the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar

Premantura is a seaside town in northwestern Croatia, approximately 280 kilometres southwest of the capital, Zagreb.

Google Translate was used to translate the press release of the International Centre of Underwater Archaeology in Zadar.

Aspen Pflughoeft is a real-time news anchor for McClatchy. She graduated from Minerva University, where she studied communications, history and international politics. She was previously a reporter for the Deseret News.