Roman shipwreck discovered off Albanian coast

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A research team comprised of Albanian and US archaeologists found the wreckage this week at a depth of 50 metres and believe it dates to between the second and first century BC. 

Remains of ancient ship found off Albanian coast [Credit: RPM Nautical Foundation]

According to archaeologists, the discovery of a 30 metre-long ship with more than 300 amphoras-a type of ceramic container- aboard, sheds new light on the ancient population of the southern Illyrian coast and its trade relations in the Mediterranean.   

“The growing maritime evidence points toward an intense wine industry and associated heavy trade that developed in the 2nd century BC and continued into the 1st century CE,” Dr Jeff Royal of the RPM Nautical Foundation said in a statement.   

“The heavy traffic of this commodity ran southward down the Eastern Adriatic route to the Vlora area before cutting over to Southern Italy and continuing into the West Mediterranean,” Royal added. 

During ancient times, Albania’s coast stood on an important trade route, receiving traffic from Greece, Italy, North Africa and the western Mediterranean. 

“This discovery is important not only for the expedition but also for Albania’s underwater archaeology,” Dr Adrian Anastasi from Albania’s Institute of Archeology said. 

The expedition was financed by the RPM Nautical Foundation, which was founded by US financier George Robb Jr. It has discovered 20 shipwrecks from ancient, medieval and modern times in its survey of the Balkan country’s coast in the last five years. 

Robb and his research team have called repeatedly for the creation of an underwater archaeology museum, which would allow for the excavation and preservation of these relics, but so far they have received little support from local authorities.   

“The discoveries of the last five years could create a unique museum for the Balkans, an opportunity that Albania should not miss,” Robb said. 

Source: Balkan Insight [August 17, 2011]

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