An ancient Roman ship has been discovered 92 metres deep off the coast of Sicily. Close to Isola delle Femmine, the vessel dates back to the second century BC.
The ship lies 92 metres (302ft) deep in the Mediterranean Sea, near Isola delle Femmine. The first images taken by a submarine robot show it was carrying a large cargo of wine amphorae.
“The Mediterranean continually gives us precious elements for the reconstruction of our history linked to maritime trade, the types of boats, the transport carried out,’’ said the superintendent of the sea of the Sicilian region, Valeria Li Vigni, who launched the expedition. “Now we will know more about life on board and the relationships between coastal populations.’’
Most important archaeological finds in recent years
Sicilian authorities described the discovery as one of the most important archaeological finds of recent years.
Findings will shed light on Rome’s trade activity in the Mediterranean. The Romans traded spices, wine, olives and other products in north Africa, Spain, France and the Middle East.
Another wreck discovered by Sicilian archaeologists a few weeks ago also had a huge load of amphorae. Containing wine, and dating back to the second century BC, it lies about 70 metres deep near the island of Ustica.
Numerous Roman wrecks in the Mediterranean
Throughout the Mediterranean, there are numerous Roman wrecks. One example is the second century BC ship near Genoa discovered in 2013. Containing approximately 50 amphorae, polie divers spotted it roughly one mile from the shore of Alassio, 50 metres underwater.
Then, police received a tip off as to its location during a year-long investigation into stolen artefacts sold on the black market in northern Italy.
Amphorae marketed illegally
Every year, the carabinieri responsible for cultural heritage find hundreds of ancient Roman amphorae, taken illegally, in the homes of art dealers.
In June, Italian authorities recovered hundreds of illegally gathered finds from a Belgian collector. Totalling €11million, the 800 or so pieces are “of exceptional rarity and inestimable value” the police said.