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Tracing Ancient Trade Networks…

Archaeologists recently found ancient wine jars, named Amphora, around 300ft below the sea, and each one is more than 2,200 years old. This discovery has triggered a stir among archaeologists.

Sicily, the largest Mediterranean Island, is just off the “toe” of Italy’s “boot“. Archaeologists have unearthed these jars under the sea near the Italian island. They consider the Mediterranean Sea as a treasure trove of precious artefacts. They often find many historical items inside the Mediterranean Sea. The sea has helped them learn about the flourishment of maritime trade centuries ago. The recent discovery of wine jars, too, is related to the ancient maritime trade. However, archaeologists are still not sure whether these jars were used only for commercial purposes.

In a statement, the Local Authorities of the Sicilian Region have said that the shipwreck, dated to the 2nd Century BC, was found in the Mediterranean Sea at a depth of 92mt (302ft), near the Isola delle Femmine. Archaeologists have claimed that they found the jars inside the shipwreck. However, all of them are empty. The jars are almost intact, despite being in the salty sea water for more than 2,000 years! They are quite large in size, with each having two vertical handles. Archaeologists believe that they were also used to store olive oil at that period of time.

Italian daily La Stampa reported that the Sicilian wine trade was “one of the most profitable and widespread activities for entrepreneurs of the time”. According to the daily, a type of wine, known as Mamertino, “became so renowned as to attract the attention of Julius Caesar, who offered it to his diners on occasion of the celebratory banquet of his third consulate (46 BC)”.


Meanwhile, Expedition Leader and Superintendent of the Sea for Sicily Valeria Li Vigni stressed: “The Mediterranean continually gives us precious elements for the reconstruction of our history linked to maritime trade, the types of boats, the transports carried out, the thalassocracies, but also data relating to life onboard and the relationships between coastal populations.” She further said: “The discovery confirms the presence of numerous archaeological remains in the bathymetric bands over 50-80mt, which stimulate us to continue our research in the deep sea in synergy with the skills of the ARPA technicians, who will continue to produce excellent results.

For his part, Director of Arpa Sicilia Vincenzo Infantino said: “The study and monitoring of the marine environment, constantly operated by Arpa Sicilia, continue to enrich the picture of the precious beauties present in the Sicilian sea in many respects, not only in terms of species and environmental resources.” He added: “Their protection is an essential imperative for our community, but also of the recovery of essential elements for the reconstruction of the history of our sea from the point of view of commercial movements.

The Shipwreck

Archaeologists are trying to find out the destination and route of the ship, and what caused it to sink. Ancient shipwrecks were discovered in this particular region in the past. In 2012, the wreckage of a ship was recovered from the sea near Liguria, a crescent-shaped region in northwest Italy. Later, research revealed that the Roman-era commercial vessel had sunk at least 2,000 years ago.

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