Divers Discover Tramp Steamer's Roman Secret
Keys, David, The Independent (London, England)
A group of British amateur divers has discovered a 2,000- year- old Roman treasure in a wreck on the Channel sea-bed.
The divers were exploring the remains of a previously un-identified wreck three miles off Dungeness when they stumbled upon a chest full of marble sculptures and inscriptions.
Now research by the Independent and Britain's Shipwreck Index data bank has identified the vessel as the 1,500-ton Scottish-built steamship the Castor, which sank while shipping antiquities and other cargo from Turkey to the Netherlands in 1894.
However, who owns the newly discovered "Channel marbles" is at present unclear.
Surviving correspondence in the Netherlands' top antiquities collection, the Ryksmuseum in Leiden, has revealed that the lost treasures originally came from the Turkish towns of lzmir (ancient Smyrna) and Sultanhisar (Nysa). They had been bought by the Dutch consul in lzmir, an antiquities dealer called Alfred van Lennep who regularly supplied classical material from Turkey to the Leiden museum.
According to the correspondence, there were 12 sculptures and inscriptions on the ill-fated steamship, which sank in dense fog on 28 July, 1894, after colliding with a German sailing vessel.
Possible claimants of the "Channel marbles" could therefore include the descendants of the original consignor Alfred van Lennep; the original consignee, the museum; the Turkish government, on whose soil the items were originally found; and any insurance company that may have settled claims.
If no one claims the items within a year and a day the marbles will become Crown property and would probably be given to an institution, most likely the British Museum, or possibly to the divers who found them.
The divers will receive salvage rights compensation if they do not get the marbles themselves.
So far seven of the dozen sculptures and inscriptions have been recovered - …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Divers Discover Tramp Steamer's Roman Secret. Contributors: Keys, David - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: May 16, 1995. Page number: 5. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.