The Laeotropic Aspect

Planier 3: A Roman Imperial Shipwreck of the First Century CE


The Roman shipwreck Planier C (or 3) was found 250 meters south-east of the island of Planier in the early 1960s and the first published reports are Benoit's, from 1962. It is a small merchant vessel put together by mortises and tenons, with a crew of probably five men. This ship has been dated to the middle or third quarter of the first century CE, although Cicéron dates the ship, by the terra sigillata pottery, to just before 47 CE.

The wreck spilled over a reef or ring of rocks and spilled its main cargo, 75+ amphorae mostly of Lambroglia 2 and Dressel IB type, across an area of 10 x 15 meters. The amhporae in part were stamped with the mark of a perfumer from Herculaneum and possibly sailed out of the port of Puteoli (Puzzeoli). Other cargo were personal effects, such as a black-glazed lamp and part of a bronze candelabrum moulded in the shape of a panther. There were five plates and five drinking vessels, as well as a terra sigillata-ware serving platter, also probably in use by the men on board. Pollen and animal bones, evidence of the crew's eating habits, were also found on board. Besides the perfume, the other valuable cargo on board was a cache of colourants; litharge, realgar, and blue frit. Found also was a set of serpentine weights. My conclusion is that this was a small merchant vessel which had connections with trade in Egypt and Gaul, due to what we know about the uses of the minerals and their source, as well as information about the ports.

Outline of the finds on the Planier C wreck

Bibliography and Notes

Benoit, Fernand. (1962) "Nouvelles épaves de Provence: III" Gallia 20, 147-76.

Liou, Bernard and Pomey, Patrice. (1985) "Informations archéologiques. Direction de recherches archéologiques sous-marines." Gallia 43, 547-76.

Liou, Bernard. (1973) "Informations archéologiques. Recherches archéologiques sous-marines." Gallia 31, 571-608.

Lucas, A. and S. Harris. (1962) Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries. London: 205-18, 340-46

McCann, Anna Marguerite, Joanne Bourgeois, and Elizabeth Lyding Will. (1977) "Underwater Excavations at the Etruscan Port of Populonia." Journal of Field Archaeology 4, 275-96.

Oswald, Felix. (1966) An Introduction to the Study of Terra Sigillata. [Farnborough, Hants] : Gregg Press. Maps.

Peltenburg, E.J. (1987) "Early Faience Studies, Origins and Relations with Glass." in Early Vitreous Material, ed. Bimson, M. and Freestone, I.C. London : British Museum. 5-29

Strong, Donald and David Brown. (1976) Roman Crafts. New York: New York University Press. Chapters 'Glass' and 'Enamel'.

Tchernia, André. (1969) "Informations archéologiques. Direction de recherches archéologiques sous-marines." Gallia 27, 465-99.

Tite, M.S., M. Bimson and M.R. Cowell. (1984) "Technological Examination of Egyptian Blue." in Archeological Chemistry 3, ed. Lambert, Joseph. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society. 215-42

Vitruvius, trans. Rowland and Howe. (1999) Ten Books on Architecture. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press. 92-5, 268

Baldassari, Roberta. (1999 or 2000?) "Le anfore romane e puniche dei rinvenimenti sottomarini." Found at "Le Tesi di Laurea" at Last accessed 16 Jan 2004 (almost three years after the original citing!)

Some thanks to L. Licata for partial translations of sections of the French Gallia articles.

Send comments to Cobalt via Contact Page
All pages should validate XHTML and CSS. Last updated 16 Jan 2004.