One of the best preserved shipwrecks ever found has been discovered off the Italian coast.
Divers say they have found a ship off the coast of Italy which they believe is about 2,000 years old.
The ship, which was spotted in the sea off the town on Varazze in the province of Liguria, is thought to be a Roman-era commercial vessel.
Divers examine one of an estimated 200 pots found on a shipwreck off the coast of Italy. The pots are so well preserved food still remains inside them.
The ship, a navis oneraria, or merchant vessel, was located at a depth of about 200 feet after a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was used to scour the seabed.
A search for the shipwreck was launched after local fisherman revealed they kept finding pieces of pottery in their nets.
The divers found the wreck so well preserved even the food, still sealed in over 200 pots, is intact.
‘The peculiarity of this is that the wreck could be almost intact,’ Lt Col Francesco Schilardi of the police divers’ group told the BBC.
‘We believe it dates to sometime between the 1st Century BC and the 1st Century AD.’
THE ROMAN MENU
The ship was found to be carrying over 200 pots containing food.
Initial tests have found pickled fish, which was often used to create a sauce called garum.
Garum was a popular staple of menus for wealthly Romans, made from fermented fish and served as a side dish to meals.
It was created by placing fatty fish such as sardines along with fish guts and blood into a large container with herbs and layers of salt.
The container was then left in the sun for several days, before being mixed ever day for around 20 days, until it became a liquid.
Other foodstuffs found in the pots include wine, oil and grain.
The team has so far been unable to find the name of the ship, but it was believed to be a sailed vessel used to carry commercial goods.
The ship would have been travelling between Italy and Spain, a popular shipping route, and would have been carrying food to sell at its destination.
Roman ships were commonly named after gods, mythological heroes or concepts such as harmony, peace and victory.
Researchers believe the mud on the seabed protected the wreck.
Test on some of the recovered jars revealed they contained pickled fish, grain, wine and oil.
The foodstuffs were traded in Spain for other goods.
The containers found in the wreck are known as amphora, and are a unique shape, often containing handles.
The large containers were commonly used to transport large quantities of food and wine, and were able to hold both solid and liquid.
The examples found in the latest wreck were ceramic, but they were also made in metal.
‘There are some broken jars around the wreck, but we believe that most of the amphorae inside the ship are still sealed and food filled,” said Lt. Col. Schilardi.
It is hoped that further tests on the foodstuffs could give an insight into Roman lifestyles.
The ship is thought to have travelled on trade routes between Spain and what is now central Italy and was loaded with more than 200 clay amphorae likely to have contained fish, wine, oil and grain.
The ship, which dates to sometime between the 1st Century B.C. and the 1st Century A.D., is hidden under layers of mud on the seabed, which has left the wreck and its cargo intact.
The vessel will remain hidden at the bottom of the sea until Italian authorities decide whether to raise it or not, and police have placed an exclusion zone around it to protect it from other divers.