‘Undisturbed’ Roman Shipwreck Loaded With Ancient Goods Discovered in Cyprus

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
June 29, 2019 Updated: July 1, 2019

Archaeologists have discovered an undisturbed Roman shipwreck loaded with ancient-era products, the study of which is expected to bring new understandings about ancient trade in the region.

The discovery was made in the sea off Protaras, a resort town popular among tourists for its beaches along the Mediterranean, according to a statement from the Department of Antiquities in the Republic of Cyprus.

The Department of Antiquities says that the ship belongs to the time after Romans annexed the island in 58 B.C. and is loaded with “transport amphorae.”

Amphorae were “two-handled ceramic coarseware storage containers … used extensively for the transport and storage of wine, olive oil, marine products, preserved fruits, and other commodities throughout the ancient Mediterranean,” according to STQRY.

Ancient shipwreck in the sea off Protaras, eastern Cyprus. (Department of Antiquities, Government of Cyprus)

The official release said the shipwreck site was reported by a team of two volunteer divers from the Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory (MARELab) at the University of Cyprus.

“The Department of Antiquities acted immediately after it was reported, in order to secure the necessary funds to cover the cost of the preliminary in situ investigation, as soon as possible,” the Department of Antiquities said.

A team of archaeologists is already at Protaras and is working on the documentation and protection of the site.

“The site is a wreck of a Roman ship, loaded with transport amphorae, most probably from Syria and Cilicia. It is the first undisturbed Roman shipwreck ever found in Cyprus, the study of which is expected to shed new light on the breadth and the scale of seaborne trade between Cyprus and the rest of the Roman provinces of the eastern Mediterranean,” said the Department of Antiquities.

Transport Amphorae

Transport amphorae were plain and unglazed, compared to highly decorative versions. According to STQRY, they were specifically designed for marine transport and each could hold up to almost half a ton.

Stock image of amphora. (Stux/Pixabay)

“Transport amphorae shared these common features that enabled both pouring and stacking in ships: Two opposed handles; thick walls for strength; and a tapering base (usually with a short peg, though some had flat bottoms), allowed the amphorae to be stacked safely one upon the other,” said STQRY.

Ancient History Encyclopedia says that the amphorae were used to store and transport wine, olive oil, honey, milk, olives, dried fish, dry food such as cereals, or even just water.

“The Romans used amphorae in much the same way as the Greeks but with the addition of such Roman staples as fish sauce (garum) and preserved fruits. For this reason, amphorae were sealed using clay or resin stoppers, some also had a ceramic lid when used to store dry goods,” said Ancient History Encyclopedia.

By studying the amphorae and its products, it is possible to analyze the trade that took place in the ancient era.

Decorative amphorae were used to transport or store wine. (Pcdazero/Pixabay)

In another startling discovery, marine archaeologists discovered what they say is the world’s oldest intact shipwreck, at 2,400 years old, in the Black Sea.

The ship was found at a depth of two kilometers (about 1.25 miles), using state-of-the-art technology previously only available to oil, gas, and renewable-energy companies.

The ship is designed in the style of an ancient Greek trading vessel known only from ancient artworks, until now.

It has been officially radiocarbon-dated to 400 B.C., after being first discovered by the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea MAP) last year, according to a statement on Oct. 23, 2018.

“A ship, surviving intact, from the classical world, lying in over two kilometers of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” said University of Southampton professor Jon Adams, the Black Sea MAP’s principal investigator in a statement.

Epoch Times reporter Simon Veazey contributed to this report.

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