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Exhibition opening: Zambratija – Prehistoric sewn boat
The sewn boat from Zambratija, on the northern Istrian coast, is the oldest example of a completely sewn boat found in the Mediterranean. Its remains date back to the period from the last quarter of the 12th and the last quarter of the 10th century BC.
The 6.7 m long and 1.6 m wide remains preserved have been explored in shallow waters. The analysis of the wood from Zambratija boat showed the use of five different species of wood: elm (Ulmus sp.), alder (Alnus sp.), wild pear (Pirus communis L.), poplar (Populus sp.) and fir (Abies alba). These analyses indicated that the species available near the coast, a rich freshwater environment characterized by marshes and coastal lagoons, were used. Only fir, which grew in the mountains, probably came from forests situated at some distance from the coast.
The construction principle applied to the Zambratija boat is based on the shell concept for the hull structure, and on a longitudinal, strake-oriented concept for its shape. The building process is shell first. Indeed, only a shell process is compatible with longitudinal sewn planking.
The boat from Zambratija is a logboat built from the elm log coated with planks longitudinally sawn together and a lath that was inserted to ensure the hull water tightness. This boat is the only evidence of sewn vessels in the Mediterranean in the transition period from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, and it can be used as a determinant of the local shipbuilding tradition of later sewn boats in the North Adriatic region.
The boat structure exploration was performed by the following institutions: The Archaeological Museum of Istria in Pula, the Croatian Ministry of Culture – Conservation Department in Pula and the Centre Camille Jullian – the research department of Aix-Marseille University (CNRS), based in Aix-en-Provence, France.