Antiquities and Archaeology
Phoenician shipwreck found off the coast of Malta could be the Mediterranean's oldest
But the exact location of the 2,700-year-old underwater ruin is being kept secret until research is finished
By Emily Sharpe. Web only
Published online: 27 August 2014
Cargo from what may be the oldest shipwreck in the Mediterranean has been discovered off the coast the Maltese island of Gozo, reports the Times of Malta. Around 20 lava grinding stones and 50 amphorae of various types and sizes from the 50ft-long Phoenician wreck were found by a team of researchers from Malta, France and the US. Experts date the artefacts to around 700BC, when Malta was among several areas in the Mediterranean colonised by the Phoenicians.
The exact location of the 2,700-year-old wreck, which lies 120m under the Mediterranean, is being kept secret until the team has had a chance finish their research, which includes the 3D-recording of objects using photogrammetry—a project funded by the French National Research Agency as part of the Groplan programme.
“This discovery is considered to be unique not only here but internationally as well because it is considered to be the oldest shipwreck in the central Mediterranean and it is in a fantastic state of preservation,” says Timmy Gambin, a senior lecturer in the classics and archaeology department at the University of Malta and the co-director of the project. He says that more than 8,000 photographs have been taken of the 14m x 5m site.
A culture ministry spokesman says: “It’s an important reference point for the entire central Mediterranean. It’s a point where we can understand interregional trade and exchange in antiquity. It’s a very unique site and first we would like to protect it and then research it as much as possible.” He also says the wreck will be added to the national inventory of 150 to 200 sites in Maltese territorial waters.
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