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Ancient Roman cargo ship discovered with “perfectly preserved” cargo intact

PortandTerminal.com, October 5, 2019

Incredible footage reveals more than 100 ‘perfectly preserved’ Roman amphorae used to store olive oil and wine in a 1,700-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Majorca

MAJORCA – Incredible footage reveals a Roman shipwreck containing more than 100 perfectly preserved amphorae that underwater archaeologists are painstakingly recovering.

The wreck — which experts have dated back to around 1,700 years ago — was found off of the coast of Mallorca back in July 2019.

Based on some of the inscriptions on the long, two-handled jars, the archaeologists believe that the amphorae were used to store fish sauce, oil and wine.

However, researchers will not be able to open them to check until they have finished preservation work that will stop the salt in the seawater cracking the jars.

The wreck was found off of the coast of Mallorca’s Can Pastilla Beach in July after local resident Felix Alarcón and his wife spotted pottery shards on the seabed.

Institute of Maritime Archaeology Studies said that the amphorae were perfectly conserved in the ship’s hold.

After investigating, archaeologists found the Roman boat buried in the seabed mere feet from the shore. 

In a press conference, archaeologist Sebastian Munar of the Balearic Institute of Maritime Archaeology Studies said that the amphorae were perfectly conserved in the ship’s hold.

The vessel is around 33 feet (ten metres) long and 16 feet (five metres) wide. 

Example of a typical Roman cargo vessel from the period

The merchant ship is thought to have been carrying its wares between Mallorca and the Spanish mainland.  

Experts think that the Roman vessel sank around 1,700 years ago — although likely not as a result of a storm, given the excellent preservation of its fragile cargo.  

With the assistance of the Spanish navy and national police divers, archaeologists have removed the jars, however, the wreck itself is to be left on the seafloor.

The amphorae on-board the vessel have been transferred to the Museum of Mallorca, where experts will be analysing and restoring the spectacular artefacts.

‘The amphorae are now in swimming pools where they are being desalinated and we think this process will last about four months,’ Mallorca council heritage director Kika Coll told CEN.

‘This process is important because the salt crystallises and can break the amphorae.’

‘The amphorae have spent 1,700 years underwater and we do not want to make mistakes.’

‘Once we are able to translate the inscriptions, we will learn more about the merchants, the products they transported and where they came from.’

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