We have recovered an ancient treasure in Vis!

A few months ago I posted about the treasure in Vis (Croatia) that I had found. It was an ancient Greek jug that I discovered while diving. Today I can finally write more and share my video showing how this treasure was recovered by the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media.

Mariusz Milka holding the treasure in Vis he had found.
The treasure in Vis. Photo by Piotr Stós

Where did I find it?

I found this jug near the islet of Krava, a few minutes by boat from the port of Vis. A few thousand years ago, an ancient Greek ship sank there. To this day, the remaining broken amphorae lie at a depth of 35-37m. It is one of the oldest known shipwrecks from this period in the whole Adriatic. It was discovered and studied by archaeologists several decades ago.

It is quite a popular dive site. It is available for recreational divers, as long as they dive with one of the diving centers registered in Croatia and have with them a qualified dive guide.

On the day I found this treasure, I was the guide. I led a group from Nautica Vis Diving Centre. I dive at Krava regularly, I know this place very well and I like it very much. We usually reach the wreck within the firtst 10 minutes of diving. So we only have about 10 more minutes to explore, before we have to swim further and ascend a little. And so it was on that day. I was really lucky, that in this relatively short time, I was able to spot and discover the jug among all the broken amphorae.

How is it even possible that I found something that other divers had not noticed before? After all, this wreck has been known and available for diving for several decades. Furthermore, archaeologists had already examined it!

Well, two things contributed to it. First of all, as I mentioned earlier, I know this place very well, because I regularly dive on it. So I know the location of the broken amphorae, I know where which fragment should lie and what this place should look like. That day I immediately realised that the arrangement of the amphorae was slightly different, and there was less sand in some parts of the wreck. This could be due to the movements of large masses of water, for example as a result of a storm. Or it could also be done by fish that dig in the bottom for food. Secondly, I regularly work with underwater archaeologists, so I can distinguish fragments of amphorae from fragments of other ceramics. They have a different color of clay, different shape, thickness, and sometimes they are also covered with different marine organisms or some are not covered at all.

So that day, a little more of the wreckage was exposed, and as I was swimming, I noticed something in the sand between the amphorae. It looked like a fragment of a small ceramic pot. I was convinced it was just a small piece, like the one I found a year before. But I gently cleaned it from the sand and it turned out that it was an intact ancient jug. So I asked one of the divers to take a picture for the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media, and then masked the find so that no one would take it out before the arrival of their expert.

Many weeks passed before the expert could come, and the treasure waited under water. After all, a month of waiting or even a few is still not much, since it has been lying there for over two thousand years. Finally, I got a call that archaeologist Saša Denegri would come from the ministry, so we could start preparing the recovery. Together with Piotr Stós from Nautica Vis Diving Centre, we organised an expedition, which he documented with photographs and I with the video below.

film by Mariusz Milka. The recovery of the treasure in Vis.

This is not the first ancient jug I have found in Vis. Here you can read about the previous one. You can also read about our other discoveries here.

Remember! If you find any object of archaeological interest underwater or on land, please report it to the relevant authorities. Don’t take it out. Leave it where you found it, unless there is a possibility that someone can steal it or something can happen to it.

Mariusz Milka