Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman shipwreck dating back nearly 2,200 years stocked with jars used to transport wine and olive oil off the coast of Palermo, Sicily.
According to a translated statement from the Sicilian Region, the shipwreck, dated to the 2nd century B.C., was found in the Mediterranean Sea at a depth of 92 meters (302ft), near the Isola delle Femmine.
An ancient Roman shipwreck dating back nearly 2,200 years has been discovered off the coast of Palermo, Sicily. The wreck was full of amphorae, jars that were used to transport wine and olive oil
The wreck was found in the Mediterranean Sea, near the Isola delle Femmine, off the coast of Palermo, Sicily
The researchers were able to document ‘the presence of a conspicuous load of amphorae, most likely of the wine type,’ the statement added.
The discovery is also considered ‘one of the most important findings of recent months,’ officials added.
An amphorae is an ancient jar with two vertical handles that were used for transporting wine and olive oil and used throughout ancient history, from the Phoenicians to the Romans, according to World History.
According to Italian newspaper La Stampa, the Sicilian wine trade was ‘one of the most profitable and widespread activities for entrepreneurs of the time.’
A type of wine, known as Mamertino, ‘became so renowned as to attract the attention of [Julius] Caesar, who offered it to his diners in occasion of the celebratory banquet of his third consulate (46 BC),’ the newspaper added.
The wreck was full of amphorae, jars that were used to transport wine and olive oil. It’s believed these amphorae were mostly used for wine
The Superintendence of the Sea of the Sicilian Region is responsible for safeguarding historical and natural objects found in the waters off the Italian island, according to Italian newspaper PalermoToday.
‘The Mediterranean continually gives us precious elements for the reconstruction of our history linked to maritime trade, the types of boats, the transports carried out, the thalassocracies, but also data relating to life on board and the relationships between coastal populations,’ Valeria Li Vigni, expedition leader and superintendent of the sea for Sicily, said in the statement.
Li Vigni continued: ‘The discovery confirms the presence of numerous archaeological remains in the bathymetric bands over 50/80 meters, which stimulate us to continue our research in the deep sea in synergy with the skills of the ARPA technicians, who will continue to produce excellent results.’
The Calypso South oceanographic vessel investigated the wreck and its remotely operated vehicle was used to photograph it
The scientists used the Calypso South oceanographic vessel to investigate the wreck, using the vessel’s remotely operated vehicle to photograph it.
‘The study and monitoring of the marine environment, constantly operated by Arpa Sicilia continue to enrich the picture of the precious beauties present in the Sicilian sea in many respects, not only in terms of species and environmental resources,’ director Vincenzo Infantino added in the statement.
‘[Their] protection is an essential imperative for our community, but also of the recovery of essential elements for the reconstruction of the history of our sea from the point of view of commercial movements.’
The discovery of the wreck and the wine amphorae may also signal a time of peace in the region, known to ancient Romands as Mare Nostrum, La Stampa added.
This shipwreck is the latest one unearthed by archaeologists near Italy in recent memory.
In 2012, divers found a 2,000-year-old shipwreck off the town on Varazze in the province of Liguria, that is believed to be a Roman-era commercial vessel.