Relitto di Capo Rasocolmo
17 May



The wreck of Capo Rasocolmo, along the Tyrrhenian coast of Messina, was a setting in two digging periods in 1991 and in 1996, which were promoted by the authorities. A ship sank  on a gravelly low depth near the coast a long time ago.

Only metal parts were found out:

  • copper nails;
  • an iron anchor;
  • a half iron anchor-stock;
  • the bronze eye-plate;
  • ten big bronze hooks, in the shape of a webbed foot, used to keep the riggings of sails.

The cargo was made up of fifteen elements of lava millstone, used as ballast, a lead engraved bar coming from Spain, fifty-one coins and fifteen lead glands, without inscriptions. Examining these metal elements, we can observe, that the ship sank because of a fire on board. In fact the bronze hooks show clear fusion marks. Lead foils are melted and have some wood carbonized fragments inside. There isn’t a wooden part.

Dating and attribution of the wreck.

The bronze and silver coins are very important for the dating and the attribution of the wreck. They date back to between 43 B.C. and 36 B.C. Most of them are coined by Pompeian side. There is also a small half-moon-shaped bronze foil. It could be the collar of a sailor or a slave.

Then we can read the surname of the great Pompeius, inherited by his sons Sextus and Gneo. Therefore it was a warship. It sank during an action, perhaps before  36 B.C. .

A lot of elements are concerning the Great Pompeius family. This wreck may be attribuited to the fleet of Sextus Pompeius, who had occupied Sicily in 43 B.C. The triumvirate’s war against Sextus Pompeius involved the northeastern side of Sicily, such as Taormina, Messina, Tyndaris, and the Aeolian Islands.  Finally it ended in 36 B.C. in Nauloco, near Milazzo. The fleet of Octavian won; Agrippa was the captain.

Ten bronze hooks in the shape of a webbed-foot

Among the ten bronze hooks in the shape of a webbed-foot, five of them are very similar. Their wings and legs are essential. While the bird has a strong natural shape in the other five hooks, then the feet are evident. Afterwards some circular holes for nails are visible in the wings. In all hooks the lower part of the neck is flattened and it forms a right angle shaped tablet, that is as a hanger to anchor the hook to a wood parallelepiped support.

In conclusion these hooks were likely to be placed along the sides of the ship and they were used to hold the riggings of sails.

But similar hooks have been found also in Lazio and in the sea of Israel.

We can see these hooks in the archaeological section in the Regional Museum of Messina.

Luana La Fauci (Daniela Dottore for the translation)