Venice lagoon reveals grim secrets

From the BBC: Venice lagoon reveals grim secrets.

The Venetian authorities are surveying two ancient ships found beside the lost island of San Marco in Boccalama that disappeared beneath the rising lagoon over 500 years ago.

The island — the site of an abandoned 11th century monastery — became a mass grave for scores of thousands of victims of the plague, the Black Death, in 1348.

Now, on what was the foreshore, they’re unearthing the two oldest ships ever found in Venice – sunk by the island’s monks in a doomed attempt to bolster sea defences against the encroaching lagoon.

On the lost island of San Marco, a ship is being uncovered that was built 700 years ago. The second ship, a 13th century galley, is now only a few inches below the water.

Aided by the new discoveries, historians are tracking the path of the plague.

Near the lost island is another abandoned monastery, San Lazaretto Nuovo.

This was Venice’s quarantine outpost during the 500 years of recurring plague — a haunted place where incoming crews and passengers were detained in the hope of checking the Black Death. [continue]