Ancient Shipwreck Contains Food

2,000-Year-Old Roman Shipwreck Could Contain Food

A 2,000-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Varazze, Italy, buried in mud may contain ancient food preserved in clay jars also called amphorae.

The name of the ship is not known, however, it is believed to be about 2,000 years old and is almost perfectly preserved, thanks to the mud it is resting in.

That mud also kept the wreck hidden for centuries. Live Science reports that it was discovered after local fisherman reported that they kept finding pieces of pottery in their nets.

So, police divers used a remotely operated vehicle to search for the shipwreck, which was eventually discovered under about 160 feet of water.

Lieutenant Colonel Francesco Schilardi, commander of the police diving team, explained that there are some broken pottery jars around the Roman shipwreck. However, they believe that most of the jars inside the ship are still intact.

Schilardi also called the wreck “an exceptional find,” adding that the team’s next goal is “to preserve the ship and keep thieves out.” They will then do surveys and excavations to study the boat’s contents, notes Yahoo! News.

The amphorae being recovered from the Varazze shipwreck still have intact caps that were made from pine and pitch. Because of this, scientists hope the jars’ contents are still preserved well enough to identify. Often, amphorae recovered from shipwrecks were empty.

The area where the wreck was discovered was once part of a trading route along the Italian peninsula, France, and Spain. To prevent looting from the almost perfectly preserved wreck, the site of the shipwreck was sealed off.

Technology like ROVs, sonar mapping equipment, and genetic analysis have helped scientists discover more about shipwrecks and recover more well-preserved artifacts than ever before. Using this technology, they will attempt to identify any substances still contained in the amphorae discovered in the Roman shipwreck.

[Image by Ad Meskens via Wikimedia Commons]