Raising the secrets of the deep

Amphorae recovered from sunken boat in Palma

Amphorae recovered from sunken boat. Credit: Consell de Mallorca

A project is underway to raise a ship which sank in the Bay of Palma some 1,500 years ago.

The Consell de Mallorca intends to build a 12-metre replica and raise the wreck. The ancient ship will be moved to a pond for desalination towards the end of the year.

In 2019, a diver discovered the wreck of a 4th century ship quite by chance, a few meters from Fontanelles beach in the bay of Palma.

The ship was submerged in shallow water, not far from the shore, is extremely well preserved, and was carrying a cargo of 300 sealed amphorae. It is believed to have been sailing from Cartagena to Rome.


On April 2, the Heritage department of the Consell de Mallorca will start the process of preparing the vessel to bring it to the surface. They have named the complex project ‘Arqueomallornauta’.

The definitive move will take place towards the end of the year, when it will be transferred to a pond being dug in the Sant Carles castle in Porto Pi. It will spend one-and-a-half to two years resting in the pond desalinating, during which the public will be able to view the wreck.

What is in the amphorae?

The sealed amphorae are still being documented, after which they will be placed in the Museum of Mallorca.

Once raised, the boat will be covered with sandbags to protect it and prevent it from deterioration. The first task will then be to carefully remove the sandbags using suction pumps.

Forty helpers and € 1 million

It will take forty people and €1 million to build a replica, raise the original and transport it for desalination.

The boat will allow researchers a fascinating insight into the history of trade and life in the Mediterranean.

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Annie christmas in the Bay of Palma
Written by

Annette Christmas

Annie Christmas loves language and communication. A long-time resident of Mallorca, she enjoys an outdoor life of cycling, horse riding and mountain walking, as well as the wealth of concerts and cultural events on the island. She also plays fiddle in a traditional Mallorcan dance troupe.