Contributions of the excavation
The GRAN

 

Click on to enlarge the compilation
Axonometric compilation of the structures
The excavation of Lomellina has brought substantial progress to the study of 16th century shipbuilding and artillery.
The study of archaeological artefacts in general has also contributed to improving our knowledge in very diverse fields such as manoeuvring tackle, cooperage, light weaponry, ceramic, and glass.

This contribution is all the more significant as we managed to identify the wreck and to pinpoint the date of its sinking. This provided a precise reference that allowed us to chronologically place all the objects resembling those that have already been brought to the surface.
The study of the ship's framing was particularly fruitful in the sense that since the ship's remains were nestled down at approximately 2m and their slope being at nearly 45° on port side, a considerable part of the hull was preserved

This is how the central part of the wreck could be studied in detail.
The structure of the bottom sections (skittle, fuselage, floor timbers, garboard), the implantation structure of the main mast, the floor of the hold, the orlop deck, the first deck, were explored and able to be reconstructed. Their reconstruction was initially in the form of drawings and then into the form of an archaeological model.

The principal characteristics of Lomellina deduced from the excavation and the corresponding studies are as follows :

  - Length from the head of the stem to the head of the stern post): 46,45 m
- Length of the skittle: 33,80 m
- Width with the mid-ship beam: 14 m
- Belly (from the top of the skittle to under the main deck: 4,40 m
- Tonnage: 810 tons.

The principal contribution of the hull study is the evidence of the Mediterranean shipbuilding tradition of the large “round” ships whereas, until today, the latter were regarded as being only of the Atlantic tradition.

The discovery of several elements (rigging, manoeuvring tackle or equipment) is particularly significant:

  - An almost intact capstan.
- A drainage pump base and its system of evacuation.
- Two portholes (probably the oldest ever discovered because their invention dates all the way back to the beginning of the 16th century.
- The jeer bitts (bottom part of a system of hoists used to hoist the mainyard).
- The head of a mast made of elm, with “Latin”sail.
- The structure of the gunpowder room and around twenty powder barrels.
- Part of the rudder.

As for the artillery, a dozen wrought iron parts were found, one of which was still fixed onto its mounting. Only four of them were brought up to the surface, two underwent a preservation treatment and the two others are still to be done. These parts still had their mobile cylinder heads.
To this day very few archaeological sites have been witness to this type of artillery, which come from two vastly different periods (construction wise); the first period being that of bronze (of which two small gauge fragments were found on the site), and which precedes iron artillery production.
These artillery pieces are accompanied by numerous stone, iron, and lead bullets some of the lead bullets even containing an iron core, and bullet moulds that were used to manufacture the lead bullets.
In addition to the mountings of certain parts, a great number of various wheels were also found stocked in the hold.

The light armament is very diverse. Next to the remains of the crossbows we found the vestiges of arquebus, of hand combat weapons like swords and daggers, equipment (coats of mail armoured suits, loops of cross-belts) as well as a great number (about hundred) of terra cotta fire grenades..

About fifteen large capacity barrels (capacity ranging between 317 and 580 litres), undoubtedly intended for the ship's water supply, and around twenty barrels still containing gun powder were found and studied. These barrels constitute a significant body of research which allows us to know more about the methods of their manufacturing and their use aboard the ships.

Large numbers of objects of everyday life and personal effects of the crew were recovered:

  - Luxury ceramics (glasses, jugs, “albarelli”, bowls)
- Common ceramics (bowls, jugs, dishes, apothecary jars)
- Dishes and wooden eating utensils such as forks and spoons
- Tins (Plates, goblets, jugs, candlesticks)
- Glass (bottles, glass, flasks)
- Currencies
- Weights and measures (yarn scales and counterweights)
- Playing pieces as for checkers or chess, gambling dice
- Sewing thimble, combs, pearls, knife cases, fragments of shoes, handles of various tools, baskets of various sizes.
- Hazel nuts, almonds, pine buts, peach pits.

To conclude, human bones were also found. The remains of a man, woman and child are there as a reminder of the tragic end of Lomellina, sunk by a brutal hurricane while quietly moored in the port of Villefranche for heavy repairs. Its capstan and halyard were dismounted and works were underway below its decks.

Evolution of the state of the wreck over the centuries :

   
16th century : after the storm , the ship tips over. 17th century : mollusks ravage the superstructures. 19th century : passing ships' anchors disperse the debris.

© Max Guérout