Croatian scholar, underwater archaeologist to present lecture at URI on 16th century merchant vessel shipwreck, March 20

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KINGSTON, R.I. – March 11, 2014 – “The Gnalić shipwreck is a tremendously important window into the late 16th century, a time of dazzling wealth and culture in Europe and the East, but also a time of deadly political and trading rivalries,” according to URI Assistant Professor of History Bridget Buxton, “When the ship struck a small rocky island and sank, it was carrying thousands of valuable glass and luxury trade goods, cannons, everyday items, and an apothecary of toxic compounds.”

Irena Radić Rossi, a professor of archaeology at the University of Zadar in Croatia, will present a lecture at the University of Rhode Island on March 20 entitled “The Gnalić Shipwreck: Mirror of the Renaissance World,” about the 16th century merchant vessel that sank in the Adriatic Sea laden with precious cargo.

Radić Rossi is the next guest in the URI Distinguished International Visiting Scholars Program. Her lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in Swan Hall on the URI Kingston campus, preceded by a reception beginning at 6 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

“Today, an international team of archaeologists and archivists are piecing together the fascinating history of everyone connected to the ill-fated ship, which belonged to the Gaglianos family of Dubrovnik,” Buxton said. “So far the story includes the Ottoman Sultan Murad III and his mother, a Venetian lady abducted and sold to the harem of Selim II by the famous pirate Barbarossa; the Doge of Venice, Nicolò da Ponte, and the Grand Duke of Florence, Francesco I de’ Medici. The Gnalić shipwreck is like a time capsule from the world of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.”

Rossi’s lecture will showcase the latest technology and discoveries of one of the most important underwater archaeological excavations in Europe against the backdrop of the Renaissance world.

Radić Rossi is a leading scholar in Mediterranean underwater archaeology and a pioneer in developing interdisciplinary collaborations among the European maritime and marine robotics research communities. She has participated in dozens of underwater archaeological excavations and surveys over the last 25 years, and she has served as the leader of more than 50 projects since 2002, including the survey and excavation of the Gnalić beginning in 2011.

Prior to her position at the University of Zadar, Radić Rossi held archaeology positions at the Croatian Conservation Institute, the Croatian Ministry of Culture, the Croatian Administration for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage, and the Croatian Ministry of Education and Culture. She has graduate degrees from the University of Zadar and the University of Zagreb.

Radić Rossi is speaking as part of URI’s Distinguished International Scholars Program, which provides funding to invite notable researchers from outside the United States to visit URI for several days to meet with faculty, students and administrators and present a public lecture.

Those unable to attend the lecture can watch it live online URI Live!

Her lecture is sponsored by the URI Office of the Provost, the College of Arts and Sciences, the URI Archaeology Group, and the URI Departments of History, Art and Art History, and Sociology and Anthropology. For more information, contact Bridget Buxton at