Roman Cargo Ship Discovered in Mediterranean

Credit: The Guardian

Ancient Roman cargo ship found on bottom of Mediterranean, states a Guardian news source.

Archaeologists insight

The vessel, from the first or second century BC, contains hundreds of jars, giving archaeologists insight into ‘ancient maritime trade routes’.

An ancient Roman cargo ship dating back to the first or second century BC has been found at the bottom of the Mediterranean in what has been described as an “exceptional” discovery.

The vessel, which was loaded with hundreds of jars, was found at a depth of about 160 metres (524ft) close to Civitavecchia, an Italian port city about 80km (50 miles) from Rome.

The discovery was made by archaeologists from Italy’s cultural heritage protection police squad and scuba divers from the national superintendency for underwater cultural heritage, an institution that protects and regulates underwater heritage sites.

The cultural heritage protection police unit said in a statement: “This exceptional discovery represents an important example of the sinking of a Roman ship which faced the perils of the sea in an attempt to reach the coast and bears witness to the ancient maritime trade routes.”

Police are working to survey and safeguard the site

The cargo ship is estimated to have been more than 20 metres in length and was filled with hundreds of ancient Roman jars, known as amphorae. They are categorised as Dressel 1 B type jars, which tend to be tube-shaped. It is not yet known what the jars might have been used for.

Italy’s Mediterranean coastline is teeming with underwater archaeological treasures, which police scuba diving squads patrol regularly to protect the sites from looters.

In 2021, within the space of a few weeks, Sicilian archeologists discovered two ancient Roman ships – one off the coast of Palermo, the other close to the island of Ustica. Both ships had been carrying large amounts of wine amphorae.

Other Roman ships found in the Mediterranean

Other Roman ships have been found in the Mediterranean, including an almost intact vessel dating back to the second century BC found in 2013 off the coast of Genoa. In that case, police were tipped off about the whereabouts of the boat during a year-long investigation into stolen artefacts sold on the hidden market in northern Italy.

Every year, hundreds of ancient Roman amphorae, taken illegally, are found by the Italian police in the homes of art dealers.

In June 2021, Italian authorities recovered hundreds of illegally gathered archaeological finds from a Belgian collector, dating from the sixth century BC and worth €11m (£9.4m). The nearly 800 pieces “of exceptional rarity and inestimable value”, including slabs known as stelaeamphorae and other items, came from clandestine excavations in Puglia.


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Source: The Guardian