Undisturbed 2,000-Year-Old Roman Shipwreck Discovered In Cyprus

Undisturbed 2,000-Year-Old Roman Shipwreck Discovered In Cyprus
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Undisturbed 2,000-Year-Old Roman Shipwreck Discovered In Cyprus

From the 8th century B.C. in the classical age. Roman ports dominated the Mediterranean Sea coasts until the sixth century A.D.

Before its notorious collapse in the third century the Roman Empire – which was famous for trade in everything from fresh perfumes to papyrus to purple dye.

Recently, volunteer divers with the University of Cyprus’s underwater archaeological research team came face-to-face with a fragment of Rome’s maritime trading history.

When they discovered an ancient shipwreck filled with imported cargo near the resort town of Protaras.

“It is the first undisturbed Roman shipwreck ever found in Cyprus, the study of which is expected to shed new light on the breadth and the scale of seaborne trade between Cyprus and the rest of the Roman provinces of the eastern Mediterranean,” Cyprus’s Department of Antiquities said in a statement.

The shipwreck was spotted off the southern coast of the island and is the second notable wreck from antiquity to be discovered in the region in recent years.

One found in 2007, near the village of Mazotos in Cyprus, dates to the mid-fourth century B.C. and revealed intact jugs of (very) aged wine.

After stumbling upon the centuries-old cargo, the divers reported their find to the Department of Antiquities.

Given the rarity of the discovery, funding has already been secured for a team of archaeologists to do preliminary research on the wreck in situ.

And while a thorough examination of the goods is still forthcoming, experts have already made an initial determination of what lies within the wreckage.

The shipwreck dates back to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century when the U.S. was expanding its trade with the rest of world by sea.
The shipwreck dates back to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century when the U.S. was expanding its trade with the rest of world by sea.

“The site is a wreck of a Roman ship, loaded with transport amphorae, most probably from Syria and Cilicia,” said the Department. Amphorae were jars commonly used to hold olive oil and wine.

In addition to supporting the archaeological investigation, the Department is also working on securing protections for the site, to ensure the conservation of this important watery wreck.


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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.