Early Roman Shipwreck Carried Fish Sauce

This July 2018 video says about itself:

Really impressive to see all those Roman amphorae of over 2 millennia old at 40 meters deep about 1km from Lastovo in the direction of Korcula. The wreck from the wooden ship has completely disappeared. Amazing how they are preserved at this depth untouched by storms and fishermen.

Associated Press reports:

MADRID, Spain Nov 13, 2006 — A shipwrecked first-century vessel carrying delicacies to the richest palates of the Roman Empire has proved a dazzling find, with nearly 2,000-year-old fish bones still nestling inside clay jars, archaeolgists said Monday.

Boaters found its cargo of hundreds of amphoras in 2000 when their anchor got tangled with one of the two-handled jars.

After years of arranging financing and crews, exploration of the site a mile off the coast of Alicante in southeast Spain began in July, said Carles de Juan, a co-director of the project, who works for the Valencia regional government.

The ship, estimated to be 100 feet long with a capacity for around 400 tons of cargo, is twice the size of most other Roman shipwrecks found in the Mediterranean, de Juan said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Its cargo of an estimated 1,500 well-preserved clay amphoras was used in this case to hold fish sauce a prized condiment for wealthy Romans, he said.

For nearly 2,000 years, the 3-foot-tall amphoras lay undisturbed except for the occasional octopus that would pry one open, breaking the ceramic-and-mortar seal in search of food or shelter.

Besides the size of the ship and good condition of its cargo, the site is also important because it is so easily accessible in just 80 feet of water about a mile from the coast.

Other wrecks are so deep they cannot be examined by scuba divers.

“I am not going to say it was on the beach, but almost,” said de Juan, who was among the first divers to examine the shipwreck in 2000.

“We knew it was an important find but had no real idea until now,” he said. “It is an exceptional find.”

The last time a ship of this size and quality emerged was in 1985 off Corsica, he said.

Javier Nieto, director of the Center for Underwater Archaeology of Catalonia and not related to this project, also called it immensely important because of the good condition of the cargo.

No other Roman shipwreck is currently under study in the Mediterranean, he added.

See also here.

11 thoughts on “Early Roman Shipwreck Carried Fish Sauce

  1. Source: University Of Haifa
    Date: January 28, 2007

    Shipwreck From Early Islamic Period Discovered Off Israeli Coast

    Science Daily — An 8th century shipwreck was discovered off Dor Beach and excavated by researchers from the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies of the University of Haifa. It is believed to be the only boat from this period discovered in the entire Mediterranean region.

    “We do not have any other historical or archaeological evidence of the economic activity and commerce of this period at Dor. The shipwreck will serve as a source of information about the social and economic activities in this area,” said Dr. Ya’acov Kahanov from the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies and the Department Of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa.

    The wreck itself was found almost a decade ago during a joint survey of the area conducted by an expedition of the Institute for Maritime Archaeology from the University of Texas A & M and the Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa. Using carbon dating techniques, the wreck was dated as from the early 8th century. Only now, after the completion of the latest excavation season, are the details of the1,300 year old shipwreck becoming clearer.

    The small boat, 15 meters long and 5 meters wide, was involved in local commerce and sailed along the Lavant coast between the ports on the Mediterranean Sea. It was found in a lagoon off Dor Beach, 0.75 meters beneath the surface of the water. Dr. Kahanov explained that this ship is a rare find given the amount of wood that has remained intact and in a good state of preservation. In addition to the wooden hull of the boat, many of the boat’s contents have also been preserved. Among them are 30 vessels of pottery of different sizes and designs containing fish bones, ropes, mats, a bone needle, a wooden spoon, wood carvings and food remains, mainly carobs and olives.

    Dr. Kahanov stressed the importance of this find owing to the fact that there are so few archaeological finds from the ancient Islamic Period in this area.

    Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University Of Haifa.



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