A Roman shipwreck that dates from the time of Jesus Christ has been discovered in Greece, with a cargo of around 6,000 amazingly well-preserved pots used for transporting wine and food.
The 110-foot-long ship and its cargo, discovered off the coast of the Greek island of Kefalonia, could reveal new information about the shipping routes taken by Roman traders across the Mediterranean.
The wreckage was found using sonar equipment and contains thousands of amphorae, elaborate pots used for moving food and wine.
The wreck was found near the fishing port of Fiskardo on the north coast of Kefalonia, dates between 1 BC and AD 1, Greek researchers say.
The cargo is visible on the seafloor and is in a good state of preservation.
‘It’s half-buried in the sediment, so we have high expectations that if we go to an excavation in the future, we will find part or the whole wooden hull,’ said George Ferentinos at the University of Patras, Greece, who led the study of the findings.
The Fiskardo shipwreck is one of the largest four found in the Mediterranean Sea, and the largest yet found in the eastern Mediterranean.
The ship’s dimensions are thought to have been about 110-feet long and 42 feet wide, with a cargo load almost as big — 98 feet by 39 feet.
Its cargo is estimated at about 6,000 amphorae, a distinctive type of Roman pot with two handles and a narrow neck.
The shipwreck was found off the present-day Fiskardo fishing port, where ancient houses, bath complexes, a theatre, a cemetery and a tomb dating back to Roman times between 146 BC and 330 AD, were recently found.
This indicates that Fiskardo was an ‘important port at that time’, the researchers said in their study, published in Journal of Archaeological Science.
The researchers say Fiskardo port was probably a significant calling place along the Roman trading route that ferried goods around the Mediterranean.
Goods such as cereal, wine, oil and olives were transported throughout all the Mediterranean harbours, with Rome as their final destination.
It has not yet been decided if the shipwreck is to be raised from the bottom of the ocean, but if recovered further study could reveal more about its origin.
The underwater sonar techniques may also provide information about the ship’s hull stowage and its vulnerability to human activity, as well as what might have sunk the ship.
While earlier Mediterranean shipwrecks were found using Scuba divers, the team used computer vision techniques to process side-scan sonar seafloor images.
This kind of modern underwater sensing technology is a valuable tool for separating ancient shipwreck targets from other seafloor features with similar acoustic signatures.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Jonathan Chadwick