The exhibition itinerary

The large ship that left its mark on the seabed takes us in a virtual and diachronic sail through centuries and coastal landscapes in continuous evolution, from pre-roman age to modern age, among ways and forms of ancient navigation, of relationships, of trade, of harbouring facilities and of settlement on the Adriatic shores.

The many themes of the exhibition are developed in the initial diaphragm and in the sections of the large ship. On the head of the sections each theme is introduced and the specifc subthemes, which are exposed on the faces, are announced. Each case illustrates a theme through the materials of a specifc context: a coastal settlement, a port structure, the hull or the cargo of a shipwreck, an isolated


A journey through the “geographic concept” of the Adriatic sea as represented in maps over the centuries, in order to understand not only how the “sea of intimacy” has been portrayed on paper but also how it has influenced our imagination..

Aquileia, Ancona, Ravenna, Brindisi, then Trieste, Pula, Split and many others. Since ancient times, the Adriatic coasts have been graced by a rich embroidery of harbours, docks and piers which were points of access to the dryland, frontiers between roads, rivers and the sea, trading posts, distribution centres, naval bases.
From one coast to another, following the commercial routes, we discover the extensive network of movement and transport at sea connecting tha many shores of the Adriatic through the constant exchange of goods, languages and stories.

The story of the ships crossing the shores of the Adriatic is marked by the use of high technology and by hybrid construction techniques developing in time, as shown by the findings of naval archaeology featured in this section.
The exploration begins with the oldest sawn vessel of the Mediterranean, followed by ancient merchant ships, galleons, vessels, Venetian rasconas and galleys, Ottoman ships, warships of the Kingdom of Italy, and submarines, together with ships made of stone and glass, and even engraved on coins!

Navigation on the Adriatic sea has always been marked by trade. All kinds of goods have travelled across this sea: cereal, wine, oil, meat, fish, honey, glass, marble, metal, minerals, stone, bricks, precious crockery, artistic handicrafts, works of art, furniture, decorations, china, bronze, amber, gold, silver, ivory, gems, pearls, drugs and medications, incense, ointments, perfumes, leather, skins, wool, silk and other fabrics, wood, slaves...
A floating store which never stopped working.

At the centre of it all – commerce and military expeditions, big enterprises and evil trades, shipwrecks and recoveries – always them: the inhabitants of the Adriatic shores, one great people sharing many different languages and cultures, extending well beyond the sea. Admirals, sailors, merchants, emperors, landowners, courtesans, pirates, slaves: stories of men and women coming back to life thanks to the relics re-emerging from the sea.

The Adriatic holds witness to the very first beginnings of fishing, the mother of all activities, practised throughout the ages.
Fish is reared, caught and processed, but above all it is shipped, live and preserved, together with shellfish and shells, which can be used as decoration, and murexes, which provided purple needed to dye fabric. Landscapes change slowly, at least until more recent times, allowing explore the earliest fishing sites which, just as the salt mines, stay unchanged for centuries.

Water holding people and places together, but also border dividing them: the Adriatic has forever been the battleground to the peoples of an unborn Europe, the homefront against piracy and the theatre of naval wars about religion and the East – West relations. It has witnessed the changes of peoples and territories coming together and dividing for ethnic and political reasons after the fall of the great Adriatic empires: Byzantium, Venice, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, up until the end of the Yugoslav Federation.

Holy buildings, monuments, temples, steles, mounds...
The shores of the Adriatic are punctuated by holy sites and places of resting, fundamental reference points for anyone crossing the sea, but also places where people coming from the sea could meet those looking at the sea from the dryland, places where those coming from the sea could find hospitality, pray and give thanks for surviving a shipwreck, leave a tribute to the gods, maybe going deep down the dark bowels of the earth in one of the many caves of the coast, visited by many since very ancient times.

The Adriatic witnesses another thousands-year old story which seems neverending: the movement of enormous amounts of human beings across its shores, an incessant flux of wanderers, pilgrims, invaders, traders, fugitives.
A close web of human destinies travelling on luggers, Venetian pielagos and brazzeras, galleys, brigs, gulets, foists, galliots, ferries, rafts, patrol boats and NATO maritime units whose stories still prompt us today to think about concepts like individual and social identity and immigration policies.

Two impressive videos to understand the challenges and methodologies of marine archaeology, the complexity and limitations of a far-reaching profession based on research and the passion for discovery and the restoration of lost heritage.