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Wreck of 2,000-year-old ship found off Italian coast

posted 8 Aug 2012, 05:43 by Mpelembe   [ updated 8 Aug 2012, 05:43 ]

Hundreds of clay jars found on sunken Roman-era merchant ship discovered by Italian police divers near the port city of Genoa.

VAREZZE, NEAR GENOA, ITALY  (CARABINIERI POLICE HANDOUT) - Italian police divers have discovered a 2,000-year-old sunken ship in the waters near the port city of Genoa, which contains hundreds of amphorae, or clay jars, used for shipping oil, olives, wine and other food products.

An automated underwater rover located the wreck on the sea floor at 60-70 metres after searching an area where fisherman had reported hauling up pottery fragments in their nets, Carabinieri military police said in a statement.

The police scuba unit said the upper part of the wreck contains numerous fragments of amphorae damaged by fishing, but the lower section is intact and contains "several hundred amphorae" of a type used by Roman merchants between the first century B.C. and the second century A.D.

Divers have so far recovered only one crusty amphora, but they said that it was likely that some of the ancient jars remained sealed, which would allow scientists to study and identify the exact contents of the cargo.

Police said they would now monitor and protect the site of the ancient wreck.