Roman Shipwrecks of Ventotene

This has finally hit the newswires, it appears … excerpts from the Reuters coverage:

A team of archaeologists using sonar technology to scan the seabed have discovered a “graveyard” of five pristine ancient Roman shipwrecks off the small Italian island of Ventotene.

The trading vessels, dating from the first century BC to the fifth century AD, lie more than 100 meters underwater and are amongst the deepest wrecks discovered in the Mediterranean in recent years, the researchers said on Thursday.

[…]

The vessels were transporting wine from Italy, prized fish sauce from Spain and north Africa, and a mysterious cargo of metal ingots from Italy, possibly to be used in the construction of statues or weaponry.

[…]

Due to their depth, the ships have lain untouched for hundreds of years but Gambin said the increasing popularity of deep water diving posed a threat to the Mediterranean’s archaeological treasures.

“There is a race against time,” he said. “In the next 10 years, there will be an explosion in mixed-gas diving and these sites will be accessible to ordinary treasure hunters.”

A few days ago, the primary researcher on this one (Dr. T. Gambin) posted to Ostia-l a link to the project’s webpage, which includes a very nice photogallery of finds. This sonar image of the set should give a sense of how major this find is (those are individual amphorae):

Aurora Trust Photo
Aurora Trust Photo

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