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Archaeology breakthrough: How 2000-year-old Roman shipwreck discovery ‘redefined’ history

Underwater researchers were exploring waters in Florida when they came across the shipwreck of a Roman vessel.

The ship was named ‘Panarea III’, and is thought to have sailed around 218-210 BC, during the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage.

It was discovered at a depth of 130 meters in 2010 by US archaeologists using sonar gear and a remotely operated submersible.

The Italian archaeologists that were at the centre of the research believed the ship was a supply vessel in the fleet of the Roman consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus.

Among the stunning artefacts were “small fishing plates, kalathoi, pitcher, and the louterion,” the archaeologists said.

They said the latter was probably used as a sacrificial altar on board the ship.

Jarrod Jablonski, one of the divers, added: “Metal supports still embedded in the base were likely used for fastening to the deck.

“The Louterion (the ship) is one of many unique discoveries that promise to help redefine what we understand about ancient trade routes and commerce in the 3rd century BC.”

A similar discovery was made in the waters of the Mediterranean when a Phoenician vessel was found by researchers.

The Phoenicians were the direct descendent of the Canaanites of the south Syrian and Lebanese coast – known as a great maritime people who had developed a high level of ship-building technology.

They used galleys, or man-powered vessels, and are credited with the invention of the bireme (galley with two decks of oars).

The Phoenicians established trading colonies all around the Mediterranean, in North Africa, the Italian peninsula, Sicily and Corsica.

As a result, they enjoyed trading dominance.

The shipwreck found near Malta was from around 700 BC, according to Dr Timmy Gambin and his colleagues from Texas A&M University and the French National Research Agency.

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It was found at a depth of 125 metres below the surface.

According to Science News, after the find Dr Gambin said: “This shipwreck may offer new and significant information about Phoenician seafaring and trade in the central Mediterranean during the archaic period.

“To date, little is known about the earliest contact of Phoenician mariners with the Maltese islands.”

The researchers claimed that the ship was sailing from Sicily to Malta when it sank.

It was about 15 metres long and carried a cargo of 20 grinding stones (about 35 kg each) and 50 amphorae of seven different types – indicating the ship had been in different harbours.

Dr Gambin added: “This discovery may be considered as one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Malta datable to the early Phoenician period.”

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