A Roman shipwreck from approximately 1,700 years ago was discovered off the coast of Mallorca, Spain, in July of this year and what was found inside is absolutely incredible. More than 100 perfectly preserved amphorae were uncovered on the ship.
The long jars with two handles had inscriptions on them which led archaeologists to believe that they were used to store oil, fish sauce, and wine. Archaeologists, with the help of the Spanish navy as well as national police officers, removed all of the amphorae from the shipwreck. The ship will not be removed, as it will remain at the bottom of the sea.
The amphorae were brought to the Museum of Mallorca to be further analyzed and restored. The researchers will need to wait a bit longer though to find out what exactly was stored in the amphorae as they need to be careful that the salt in the sea water does not crack the jars.
Kika Coll, who is the Mallorca council heritage director, told CEN, “The amphorae are now in swimming pools where they are being desalinated and we think this process will last about four months,” adding, “This process is important because the salt crystallizes and can break the amphorae.”
As for why the jars were on the ship and their origins, Coll stated, “Once we are able to translate the inscriptions, we will learn more about the merchants, the products they transported, and where they came from.”
The shipwreck was located off the coast of Can Pastilla Beach after a local resident named Felix Alarcón and his wife discovered pieces of pottery on the seabed. The Roman vessel, which measured approximately 33 feet long by 16 feet wide, was found by archaeologists at the bottom of the sea very close to the shore.
The vessel was thought to have been carrying the pottery between Mallorca and the Spanish mainland when it sank approximately 1,700 years ago. Based on the excellent condition of the amphorae, it is not believed that a storm sank the merchant ship.
Archaeologist Sebastian Munar, who is from the Balearic Institute of Maritime Archaeology Studies, said in a press conference that the amphorae were “perfectly conserved in the ship’s hold”. You can see them for yourself, as several pictures of the amphorae as well as a video from when divers found them can be seen here.