Friday, August 10, 2012

Roman shipwreck found with sealed jars of 2,000-year-old food and wine

A 2,000-year-old Roman merchant vessel with a well-preserved cargo including wine and food has been discovered off the coast of Italy.
The ship was first spotted by fisherman, who had pulled some of the amphorae (terracotta, jar-like containers) out of the sea near the town of Varazze with their nets. After tipping off the Carabinieri Subacquei (police divers), the ship was examined using a Pluto remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and later by divers.
They found the vessel to hold around 200 amphorae. When tested they were found to contain a range of perishables including pickled fish, grain, wine and oil. While some of the jars have been broken, it appears that most of them remain sealed. The boat itself is also well-preserved, having been almost entirely covered in sandy mud, although there is some damage caused by trawler nets.

The ship dates from sometime between the 1st Century BC and the 1st Century AD and sank while travelling between Spain and central Italy.
Italian authorities are currently securing the area, preventing fishing and water traffic, until they decide whether or not to raise the vessel. The police are eager to prevent looters from visiting the ship to take "souvenirs".