Thursday, December 14, 2006


A Roman ship, wrecked off the coast of Spain in the 1st Century AD, has been dazzling archaeologists with the array of historical treasures on board. It is 100 ft long and would have held 400 tons of trading goods. Those would include hundreds of jars of garum - a fish sauce which was a favourite condiment for rich Romans. Garum was a highly-prized delicacy served to wealthy Romans as an accompaniment to a wide variety of dishes. Romans considered it an aphrodisiac. It is thought that the ship was also carrying ingots of lead.

It was accidentally discovered six years ago by sailors whose anchor snagged a jar. The ship is in great condition and extremely accessible - lying in just 25m of water, and 1.5km (one mile) from the coast of Valencia.
Once news of the ship's discovery was announced in 2000, souvenir hunters targeted it, forcing Spanish authorities to erect a steel cage around the wreck to protect it.

After years of arranging funds, expertise and equipment, a proper exploration of the site began in July of this year. Since then, marine archaeologists have been conducting the painstaking work of cataloguing what was on board.

"For archaeologists, a sunken ship is a historic document that tells us about ancient history and how its economy worked," Javier Nieto, director of the Centre for Underwater Archaeology of Catalonia, said of the find. "This ship will contribute a lot," he added.


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