Rare 16th Century Brass Trumpets Discovered in Southern Istria

A Groundbreaking Discovery in Underwater Archaeology

Underwater archaeologists have made an extraordinary discovery off the southern coast of Istria near Cape Kamenjak. They have unearthed a remarkable find in a sunken 16th-century ship – rare brass trumpets, unique on a global scale.

Unveiling the Past: 16th Century Brass Trumpets

In the depths of the Adriatic Sea, near the tranquil waters of Premantura, archaeologists have uncovered a shipwreck filled with historical treasures. Among these treasures are exceptionally rare brass trumpets from the late 16th century, produced in the Netherlands and never before found in any other archaeological site.

A Rare and Valuable Cargo

Dr. Luka Bekić of the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar shared insights on this incredible find. “These trumpets were transported in pieces. Based on the number of parts, we estimate there were over ten trumpets. Globally, fewer than ten 16th-century trumpets exist in known museums.”

This discovery positions Istria to host the world’s largest collection of these rare trumpets, exclusively manufactured in Leiden, Netherlands. Additionally, the ship’s cargo included beads and ceramic vessels, likely en route to Venice, which was suffering from famine during that period.

Confirming the Ship’s Dutch Origin

The origin of the ship was further confirmed by the northern European ceramics found alongside the trumpets. Dr. Bekić emphasized that these artifacts provide solid evidence of the ship’s Dutch heritage.

Advanced Techniques in Archaeological Documentation

Roko Surić, also from the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology, explained the use of modern digital methods in documenting the site. “Today, we can create a photogrammetric model using digital methods, which shortens diving time and allows for precise documentation of the site segment we are investigating, ultimately giving us a complete picture of the site.”

Preservation and Future Exhibition

The trumpets, after undergoing meticulous restoration, are expected to be displayed in Pula. Meanwhile, the ship’s remains, including three cannons, will stay submerged, protected by a state-of-the-art method implemented for the first time on this project.

Cutting-Edge Preservation Techniques

Zdenka Vrgoč highlighted the innovative preservation techniques used on the site. “We protected the cannons with anodes and measured the potentials using this instrument. This method has proven highly effective, ensuring that not only cannons but also ships and other metal objects can be preserved underwater and presented to the public.”

An Attraction for Divers

This latest find is expected to draw divers from around the world. Robert Lehotkaj of the Diving Center Indije noted, “New discoveries mean new opportunities for divers to explore fresh locations. This site will attract both new and experienced divers looking for novel experiences.”

Southern Istria: A Hub of Underwater Heritage

To date, about 20 sunken ship sites have been discovered in southern Istria, with five of them under protection. This latest discovery adds another significant chapter to the region’s rich underwater heritage.


This groundbreaking archaeological discovery not only enriches our understanding of historical maritime trade but also positions Southern Istria as a significant site for underwater archaeology and diving tourism. The region continues to reveal its hidden treasures, inviting history enthusiasts and adventure seekers to explore its depths.