Five Roman shipwrecks!

Maritime archaeologists of the Aurora Trust have discovered no fewer than 5 ancient Roman shipwrecks lying in the deep Tyrrhenian waters off the west coast of Italy, near the island of Ventotene.

The ships were probably heading for the island to find a safe harbor in the storm, but obviously the storm got them first and sank them within this relatively small area.

The trading vessels, dating from the first century BC to the fifth century AD, lie more than 100 meters underwater and are amongst the deepest wrecks discovered in the Mediterranean in recent years, the researchers said on Thursday. […]

The vessels were transporting wine from Italy, prized fish sauce from Spain and north Africa, and a mysterious cargo of metal ingots from Italy, possibly to be used in the construction of statues or weaponry.

Gambin said the wrecks revealed a pattern of trade in the empire: at first Rome exported its produce to its expanding provinces, but gradually it began to import from them more and more of the things it once produced.

Aurora has some great pictures and footage of the wrecks on their website.

Here’s a neat comparison. The following are captures from Site 5, which is a well-preserved ship carrying North African amphorae of garum from the 5th century AD. On the left is the sonar image, the right the camera closeup.